Last month it was the Arts & Entertainment Network’s turn to run The Godfather (about the 600th time it’s aired on cable) and what did not escape Carat Programming’s eye is the way this network treated the movie so disrespectfully, they reported. When Marlon Brando, as Don Corleone appears in the wrenching scene after rival mobsters killed his boy Santino, the network thought to put up an animated logo reminding viewers to tune in for a program called Paranormal State, thoroughly forgettable reality voodoo that is neither Art nor Entertainment. It ruined the scene. Not that the networks seem to care.
Network logos, which run during programming (known as “bugs”) and lower-third-of-the-screen promos (“snipes”), have been around since the 1990s, but they’ve gotten more plentiful and annoying lately.
It’s been over nine years since Saturday Night Live presciently spoofed the on-screen glut with its “MSNBC Newsforce” sketch in which bugs, snipes and other graphics took over almost the entire screen. It would all be quite humorous if it hadn’t become so deadly off-putting in real life.
Carat got to thinking about all this again around Christmastime when NBC saw fit to besmirch the classic black and white movie It’s a Wonderful Life with a glaring color NBC bug that remained on screen for the entire film.
Almost every network does it, and usually to excess. TV Spam has become so bad that the producers of some shows (notably The Simpsons) have asked their networks to cut it out.
All too often, network logos obscure information that is an important part of the program that producers want the viewer to see (like VH-1 Classic’s recent airing of The Rutles). When this occurs it gives the impression that the people in charge of the network’s on-air look don’t care enough to look at their own air.
As comedian Lewis Black noted, “We don’t care about the next show. We’re watching this show.” By spoiling the viewer experience, the networks are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
…and Carat is not even dealing here with the networks that run news tickers under their clients’ commercials – that’s a topic for another rant – “but no, we don’t like it and thanks for not asking for our permission first ESPN and CNN…Oh, and someday A&E is gonna have to answer for Santino.”