We built this city on rock and roll, but not television broadcasting

Mein Gott, I love my TiVo.

Back in the good old days of university, I was allowed to be an insomniac. It practically gave me an edge over the rest of you normal people who sleep. While you were snoozing away dreaming pleasant dreams, I was reading about mereological systems to replace set theory and why Carthage should be destroyed.

The other advantage was cult television. Egads, there was some terrible (but terribly fun) television on at ungodly o’clock. It was the lurking ground for poorly scripted SciFi — oh, and horrible (… no, just horrible) pr0n adverts. Sure, it was almost impossible to schedule your viewing pleasure because television stations got a bit lax in the wee hours. Farscape, for example, was usually scheduled for 2am. It rarely aired before 3. Not the Nine O’Clock News rather annoyingly cut to an episode of Keeping Up Appearances half way through an episode at 1am.

But now I have a real job. I can’t go for little naps in the afternoon. I can’t fall asleep at 7 and sleep to noon. I can’t do my work at 4 in the morning when I’m maximally productive.

Enter TiVo.

TiVo is like the nerdy, unemployed, insomniac, obsessive compulsive sibling you wish you had. You say: ‘I feel guilty for watching such utter dreck. If only I could watch the dreck when it suits me instead of when it suits the television station.’ And so it tapes it for you. Better yet, it works out all of your guilty little pleasures and tapes things that are sort of like them.

Admittedly, it falls down in this respect quite a lot with me. I watch documentaries and SciFi/Fantasy. TiVo thought that this meant I would like to watch Today Tonight and some weird ABC kids cartoon about a space dog… or something. On the other hand, it taped a lot of Babar without me telling it to. Yay, Babar. Keeping it vaguely right wing with its fables about dictatorial elephants (the symbol of the GOP).

But in this brave new world of multi-channel digital broadcasting, most of those cult shows are finding new homes in the waking hours. Stargate Atlantis (the show which finally shrugged off the ‘Americaaaaaaaaans iiiiiiiiiiin Spaaaaaaaaaace’ theme of Stargate: SG1) is screening on the brand spanking new 7TWO. 7TWO will also be home to Count Duckula and Dangermouse.

Or, at least, 7TWO would be airing these wonderful, high quality, and not-at-all-B-grade television programmes if they could be bothered to broadcast in Canberra. Yup, it’s the nation’s capital when it comes to politics, pr0n, and phireworks, but when it comes to getting the same sort of television as we get in Sydney or Melbourne… nope. For some batshit reason, Canberra is a ‘regional’ area. What cheek. We get fewer senators than the rest of Australia. We get less public transport than the rest of Australia. We have no foreign language bookshops. And how we miss out on B-grade science fiction.

So, yes. While the rest of Australia will be enjoying repeats of nobody’s favourite shows, Canberra will have to wait until January of next year.

Author: Mark Fletcher

Mark Fletcher is a Canberra-based PhD student, writer, and policy wonk who writes about law, conservatism, atheism, and popular culture. Read his blog at OnlyTheSangfroid. He tweets at @ClothedVillainy

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