It’s not been easy to stop myself writing about the horrors of charter
airlines this week, but you’ll be relieved to know that I’ve done it. So
you won’t be treated to a diatribe about travel companies that treat
customers like cattle on the grounds that once they’ve separated them
from their money nothing else matters.
Instead, let’s talk about another experience from my recent, cheap but
cheerful holiday: CNN. I hate to bring this up, but am I the only person
in the world who thinks it’s well-nigh unwatchable?
Now I know that the last thing I should be doing on holiday is watching
TV, but I’m hopelessly trapped in the spiral of information overload.
Terrified that I might miss something which could change my life, I
listen to the Today Programme on the way to work, read the papers when I
get there, check the wires a couple of times a day and look out for News
at Ten in the evening. And that’s just on the days when nothing much
It is, I suppose, a cheaper addiction than, say, cocaine, but it can
lead to similar degradations.
Scouring Spanish newsagents and coming away with a day-old copy of The
Sun, for example, or trying to decipher local news programmes more
impenetrable than anything The Fast Show ever came up with.
In the end, I’m afraid, I succumbed to the inevitable and ended up
watching CNN on cable. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, if you have the
attention span of a gnat on methedrine. For the rest of us, it’s
irritating in ways too numerous to mention - but I’ll try.
First, let’s talk about promo trailers. Why was my attempt to watch the
news interrupted every two minutes by a lengthy trailer explaining that
what I should have been doing was watching CNN? This is less preaching
to the converted than hitting them over the head with a large mallet.
Second, what about those advertorial listings of Partner Hotels. Am I
expected to rush to the drawer for a pencil and paper to write down
their names - or refuse to book into the George V until I’m sure I’ve
seen it appear for three seconds in a CNN break?
Third, those commercials. Blimey, they do go on a bit, and blimey, they
are dull. We can only hope there’s a species of business traveller who
finds them compelling.
For all its supposed usefulness to World Leaders at times of crisis, CNN
rather strikes me as a string of promo videos kept apart by little bits
It is, dare I say, a great example of what happens when no one’s minding
the advertising minutage.
This is something of a revelation for the free-marketeer in me, but two
weeks enforced viewing left me with two resolutions: to thank God for
the BBC, and to man the barricades against the idea of an extra minute
of advertising every hour on terrestrial TV.