Tennis: Seven’s deadly sin

by Andrew Gigacz

The events of Day 8 at the Australian Open cannot be allowed to pass without comment. Not about the departure of Australia’s last two representatives, Stosur and Hewitt; with both coming up against the top seeds, their losses were unsurprising, if not inevitable. Not about Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s five set marathon win, as magnificent as it was, over the unlucky Spaniard Almagro. Not even about Henri Leconte’s bizarre commentary style in that very match.

What demands comment is the Seven Network’s appalling treatment of the match between Sam Stosur and Serena Williams.

Because of the very nature of the sport, scheduling tennis matches will always be an inexact science. In their wisdom the Australian Open directors scheduled the fourth-round match between Stosur and Williams as the third match to be played on rod Laver Arena on Day 9 (Monday), following Venus Williams’ match against Fransesca Schiavone and the Fernando Verdasco v Nikolay Davydenko match. From discussions I heard on ABC radio, the expectation was that these matches would be over in time for the Stosur-Williams clash to commence at around 4pm.

The organisers could perhaps be forgiven for not expecting the Willliams-Schiavone match to extend into a third set, which it did. But they could hardly have been surprised by the fact that a match between the men’s 6th and 9th seeds went for almost four hours and into a fifth set. In hindsight their prediction of a 4pm start for Sam and Serena would appear to have been optimistic at best.

Presumably these schedules are arranged with at least some input from the broadcast partners. For Australian television viewers, this means Channel 7. If Seven had expected a 4pm start to what surely would have been a huge television drawcard match, then they too have revealed a naivety beyond comprehension.

Whatever the case, the Davydenko-Verdasco marathon ensured it was nigh on 6pm when Stosur and Willliams finally began hitting balls in anger.

The time 6pm has an hypnotic effect on those in charge of programming at Seven. Over at Channel 9 the programmers are similarly mesmerized. No matter what the state of play in an important sporting event, the sanctity of the flagship 6pm half-hour news bulletin must not be desecrated.

So when Serena and Sam took to centre court, the zombies simply switched over to the Seven “news” bulletin. Now it would be perfectly understandable for them to make such a decision if there were some seriously news-worthy items that deserved some airtime. But what did we get? Debate, discussion and dismay over the possible split between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? We missed potentially the most important women’s singles match in Australian tennis for many years for that? Yes, we did; for these programming zombies can do nought but bow to the power of the 6pm bulletin.

Through gnashed teeth I hoped that the match would be a long one and that Seven would return to a live broadcast once the bulletin was over. I did worry that they might show a delayed telecast of the match, which would therefore mean a delay in the telecast of the matches following.

I needn’t have concerned myself. At the end of the news, they did not go to a delayed broadcast. They didn’t go back to the tennis at all. Instead they felt it necessary to bow to that other god, Today Tonight. If this was a hard-hitting current affairs show, I might have had some semblance of understanding of this decision. But what did they provide us with? An insight into why Brad and Angelina are breaking up, if indeed they are. So we lost the first half-hour of the match to Brad and Ange and the second half-hour to… Brad and Ange. Funny, I don’t think I heard more than a sentence or two about the several hundred thousand dead and homeless in Haiti during this important “news” hour.

As if not happy enough to inflict this sort of pain on tennis fans, Seven had the gall to broadcast BOTH of these shows from Rod Laver Arena! We could see the very building within which Williams and Stosur were slugging it out while being treated to a piece that was of the inane, by the inane, for the inane. Nothing could define the expression “rubbing salt into the wound” any more eloquently than this.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that, when this tortuous hour finally ended, Seven then went on to the third part of their Holy Trinity: the 2010 premiere episode of Home and Away.

I’m no fool. I know that the vast majority of the human population is of sufficiently low intelligence to actually want this mindless pap. But even these plebeians and the programming zombies must be aware that the Seven Network now has control over FIVE different digital channels. Flick through the channels and you’ll find they have 7, 70, 71, 72 and 73 at their disposal. On four of these, you will find the SAME programming. Not even so much as a half-hour delay for latecomers to be found. And the one channel for which they have been “brave” enough to alter programming, well, it was broadcasting 1980’s “comedy” shows that were bad 25 years ago and are now only worse.

How hard can it be to broadcast tennis on one channel and whatever crap you choose on another? Not that hard. But the zombies are caught in the headlights of the oncoming digital revolution. They are scared to make such a move because they “might” lose their viewers. I can assure them that they are not maintaining any fans with their current daft decision-making.

Get with the times, Seven and show ALL your viewers that you have at least SOME vision.

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

Comments

  1. I agree Gigs, nice rant. Channel 7 has always been sub-par at broadcasting the footy, going to ad-breaks as soon as the ball goes through the goals, cutting to the news as soon as the siren sounds, and just bad commentary. And have noticed that we miss the start of the new game when 7 go to an ad break at the end of a set, how hard is it to show a couple of ads and then return to see the start of the new point? Plus they over-advertise their new shows using tennis!

  2. Steve Healy says:

    forget 7 (as hard as it is to), channel 9 arent much better. There were 2 balls left in Australia’s innings and they cut to the news! 2 balls! 2 balls! They also have done the same in the previous one-dayers, cutting a few overs

  3. But they were the best at delivering the football in their day. Sadly that day is gone, for now, but when it comes back i’ll doubt we’ll see Brian Taylor or Dwayne Russell back.

    And i just don’t like Channel 10, they worry too much about their viewings

  4. Steve Healy says:

    yeah channel 9 were good, I think channel 10’s great

  5. You’re right about 9 and the cricket, Steve. I made the same point about the different digital channels they could have used in a letter to the Green Guide a few weeks back. It’s hard to believe that professional organizations like this could get it so wrong.

  6. Richard Hinds makes the same point about Brad and Angelina in today’s Age:

    http://www.theage.com.au/sport/tennis/seven-killing-golden-goose-20100126-mway.html

    Hinds refers to Seven’s treatment of the Stosur-Williams match as a betrayal. I could not agree more.

  7. Peter Flynn says:

    Gigs,

    Correct and I’m pleased somebody has written an article offering these sentiments.

    A few comments relating to the essence of the issue that Ch 7 business decisions ruin the experience for the couch punter

    Ch 7 has a very big say in programming.
    For me the tournament, particularly the night sessions, starts when all the Aussies are ‘bundled’ out. I have no interest in watching overhyped (by Ch 7) Aussie fodder.
    It was a disgrace that a wildcard Aussie ranked 286 was programmed to play on Centre Court at night when Del Potro v Blake was a far better choice for the viewer. You have to earn the right to play on Centre Court don’t you?

    Over the last few years, Fox Sports had a ripper secondary coverage. I used to watch that mostly. They had good commentators i.e. no Courier smarm, no JA inane mogadon crap and no Rasheed psychobabble. They paid a fee to Tennis Australia. This year they had to deal with Ch 7 who asked for a ridiculously high price. Fox Sports said stick it up your jumper.

    At the moment, I don’t think (I’m not entirely sure) the anti-siphoning laws allow the tennis to be put on the other digital channels. Can somebody ratify this?

    Bottom line is that all sport should be removed from ‘free-to-air’. The commercial channels will continue to stuff us around because they are running a business.

    In protest, I do small things like refusing to watch their news etc.

  8. John Butler says:

    You Go Gigs! (sorry about the Oprah moment there).

    Commercial TV’s towering contempt for its viewing audience always shows at times like this (and the mere fact that the 6.30 crapfests are described as “current affairs”).

    Yet people continue to just wear it. I feel a Peter Finch moment coming on.

    PF, as a fellow sports nut I empathise with your sentiments. But remember, in this brave new Australia of McMansions and 3 cars in every garage, there are still many who can’t afford to shell out for the 57 channels with (often) nothing on.

    A nice rant clears the sinuses eh?

  9. Thanks for the support Peter and John.

    Peter, if your interpretation of the anti-siphoning laws means that Channel 7 cannot switch the tennis coverage to one of their OWN other digital channels, then things are even more ridiculous than I had imagined!

    I remember many years ago Channel 7 facing a dilemma because they had the rights to broadcast an important Davis Cup tie and something else that was important (must’ve been footy!) and both were scheduled for the same time-slot. Things were very different in those days because Seven actually showed the viewer some respect by engaging SBS to broadcast the tennis while they broadcast the footy.

    So they were able to find a solution 20 years ago without having ownership of more than one channel but now, with five channels at their disposal, they cannot come up with a satisfactory outcome!

    Isn’t progress a wonderful thing…?

  10. Peter Flynn says:

    Gigs and JB,

    The next instalment in the debacle and sham could see Federer and Davydenko at 2 sets all between 6-7pm today.

  11. Part of me hopes you are right about that, Flynny, just so we can build up a critical mass of disgust amongst viewers and force Channel 7 into fixing the situation.

  12. Looks to me now like Federer and Davydenko will barely have started the 1st set by 6pm. If only Venus could have finished off Li when serving for the match in the 2nd set and Azarenka didn’t blow a 2 break lead against Serena. What the hell are they doing scheduling the mens match last anyway?

  13. Peter Flynn says:

    Federer is in strife and Ch 7 goes to the news.

    Crap.

  14. Disgraceful. Still, at least I can switch to Ch 7-Two and watch quality TV like a rerun of… Alf. !?!?!

  15. 7-Two is good, it gives us footy replays, even if they start at 1:45am

  16. OMG WHERE IS MY FEDERER MATCH GONE!!
    :(
    IM SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOT HAPPY JAN!

  17. I’d be happy for 7-Two to play reruns of Alf 24 hours a day if they would just put live QUARTER-FINAL tennis on one of their other channels (71 and 73 are just showing what’s already on 70.)

    More big news stories on Seven News: some ex-air hostie kneed a cop in the groin and their gonna open a souvenir shop in Victoria’s Parliament House.

    Hard-hitting stuff, eh?

  18. STATUS- having tantrum at channel 7 and throwing stuff at tv for going off the Federer match. :(

  19. GOOD GOD!! :( I DONT CARE ABOUT THE SHARE MARKET!! WHERES MY FEDERER!! :(

  20. Peter Flynn says:

    Josh, I love your positive comment.

    It’s the positiveness of youth.

    Gigs and I are grumpy and Danielle is rightly worried.

    Try this link below. Non-english commentary. Better than JA.

    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/patrusprezece14

  21. You know how most website have a “contact us” link? Try finding one on Seven’s website. Looks like they’re too scared to hear what we have to say.

    Danni, I suggest you call (03) 9697-7777 and let those lovely people at the Seven Network know what you think.

  22. Peter, i had Seven as much as you all do. But the footy replays really refresh me.

    Is Jim Courier a good tennis commentator or not? I can’t figure out if he is, or just really annoying and outgoing.

  23. Peter Flynn says:

    Federer is looking better.

    I reckon he’ll win in 4 or 5.

    Have you got the link to work?

    Josh, I’m not a Courier fan. I love McEnroe.

  24. that should be *hate seven*

  25. Thanks Mr Flynn. Remarkable how commentary I can’t even understand makes more sense than channel 7’s commentators and decision-makers.

  26. HMMM gigs i would do that but i don’t want to be on the next Today Tonight ‘outof control teens with attitude’ special.
    Plus anything i would say to them would mean that i would have to eat a bar of soap after, meaning it would sound very Gordon Ramsey.

  27. When Courier interviews players after the match, i can feel the players’ awkwardness and can see they desperatly want to get into the rooms and recover. I think Courier is too outgoing to the players and puts them out of their comfort zones.

  28. status- throwing english notes at channel 7 weather man.

  29. Peter Flynn says:

    Federer is serving for the 2nd set.

    His variety is starting to unravel Davydenko.

    Playing short chip backhands and drawing him in.

  30. Peter Flynn says:

    Josh,

    I agree mate.

    I reckon Courier is a nob.

  31. Steve Healy says:

    if alf was on 24 hours a day they wouldn’t play the footy replays

  32. But Steve, you wouldn’t care if they used 71 or 73 to show 24 hours of footy a day.

  33. Time for a Gigs moment:

    ALF = AFL :O

  34. i can’t believe this! seriously they are depriving year 12 students who will no longer have any free time to watch stuff as of next week by taking off the tennis!
    How can i be expected to pass year 12 if channel 7 can’t play a full tennis match without putting on the news or whatever!

    status- distressed

  35. Distressed? Does that mean your NOT stressed?

  36. Peter Flynn says:

    Danielle,

    I’m watching it on the net.

    Federer is 3-0 up in the 3rd.

    He is now playing at his brilliant best. His forehand is really working.

    Davydenko is making many errors.

  37. Steve Healy says:

    no it means that she’s distressed.

    yeah, I have no idea why they dont put anything different on 71 and 73. Have you noticed how there’s an SBS 3 and 4?

  38. Hate scrolling through 4 channels of SBS, then 5 channels of Seven!

  39. Nice ALF anagram Josh.

    If Danni was not stressed that would be de-stressed.

  40. okayy..thanks Peter ill breathe now…

    Josh- ahahhahahaaha no

  41. imagine the uproar..the dying minutes of the grandfinal and then hey cut to the news.
    i think i would just die.

  42. Steve Healy says:

    nah theres 4 of SBS, cos theres SBS HD.

    Does anyone know why there’s a One digital channel? whats the point?

    That’d never happen Danni cos footy is waayyy better than tennis

  43. That would be the last straw Danni, channel seven would be kicked off TV

  44. Steve – yes. But at least SBS were smart enough to use SBS1 and SBS2 to make sure both cricket and cycling were covered when there was a clash between the Ashes and the Tour de France.

  45. Beginning of the fourth set, at this rate Fed will have cleaned up Davydenko before the end of Home and Away :(

  46. REALLY!!?
    Hes playing that good AND IM NOT WATCHING IT BECAUSE BLOODY CHANNEL SEVEN HATES ME!

    :(

    COME ON FED!!!!! :)

  47. SBS are smarter than Channel 7, news of the century :P

  48. Peter Flynn says:

    Federer blitzed the 3rd set 6-0 and is up 2 sets to 1.

    He’s broken Davydenko in the first game of the 4th set.

    I have to start cooking dinner soon.

  49. Watching the game on the computer – found a good streaming site.

    The stream is from an ESPN broadcast – seeing NBA scores along the bottom of the screen.

  50. Hey guys, my richo series 2 is up, fed will win the slam danni

  51. LETS GO ROGER, LETS GO
    WOOT WOOTTTTTT
    LETS GO ROGER, LETS GO
    WOOOTTTTTTT WOOOTTT!!

    :D 8)

  52. Davydenko finally managed to win a game! But is still 2-1 and a break down in 4th set.

  53. Does anyone know how to do the smiley that Richard Naco did in a comment on Adan Hesketh’s report?

  54. nope.

    Xavier from home and away used to look hotter with longerish hair.

  55. Davydenko, amazingly, just broke back, 3-3 in the 4th set. Some good rallies in that game.

  56. Steve Healy says:

    I watched port Adelaide V Carlton from 2000 (that I taped) today, gee Port finish the game so cleanly. If Mackay hadn’t run over the mark in the first quarter the Blues might’ve won

  57. American commentators:
    “I wonder if any player has ever won a Grand Slam match after losing 13 consecutive games?”

    Davydenko just had 3 break points to go up 3-5, Federer pulled out some fantastic clutch serving – 5 serves in a row that were either aces or forced errors from Davydenko. 4-4.

  58. …And Federer breaks back, the last point being a Davydenko double fault. Davydenko just can’t step up in critical situations like Federer can. 5-4, Fed serving for match.

  59. Fuck, I just realised it’s on normal TV now, but slightly delayed. If anyone didn’t want me to spoil anything, I’m really, really sorry.

  60. YEAHHH BABYYYYY THE FED EXPRESS KEEPS ON CRUISIN’

    (Must admit I was tenser than Mirka I was biting my fist for ages.)

  61. lol its okay Adam no need to swear now.

    :) GO FED WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

  62. Damian Watson says:

    Nice work Gigs,

    In a way it is a similar situation to the footy on Friday nights, Ch7 have the ability to show it live but since Better Homes and Gardens supposedly rates well they choose to delay the footy.

  63. I apologise for swearing, Danni.

    I’m annoyed now, my bro’s in love with Novak Djokovic and I said something during the 10-second, cliche-filled interview they gave him in the tunnel before entering the arena and he started complaining about it. More than 5 minutes later, he’s still going.

  64. Better Homes and Gardens usually gets my attention, but live footy should be shown instead of it for sure.

  65. I like Novak Djokovic too, but hope he loses tonight

  66. Apology accepted :)

    lol looks like it will be A Federer vs Djokovic final then ey boys?

  67. hmmm im not in love with Novak but i would like him to win this match.
    Tsonga reminds me of Buddy Franklin.

  68. I saw the large photo of Andy Murray on the back of the Hun today and I thought he looked a bit like Jack Anthony.

  69. ROFL
    Murray looking like Superman..now thats just too far! they look NOTHING like eachother. lol

  70. My Mum and Dad thought they looked alike also…

    They look most similar when they both have their mouths wide open!

  71. Steve Healy says:

    John McCarthy looks a lot like superman

  72. lol okay then.
    hahah Steve…mm just a tad but not that much like him.

  73. I agree with Steve, I thought the same thing when I first saw him. And they’re both Johns!

  74. Steve Healy says:

    exactly, I also think Toovey looks a little bit like Anthony, not the eyes though

  75. According to the ESPN commentators, if Djokovic wins, he’ll pass Nadal and go to number 2 ranking behind Fed. However, if Murray wins the championship, HE will become number 2. So potentially Nadal could slip to number 4.

  76. I agree, McCarthy and Toovey look alike, and McCarthy looks alot like Anthony. They’re worse than Adelaide! Vince, Thompson, Van Berlo, Mackay, you can’t tell them apart!

  77. OMG superman DOES NOT look like Toovey!!

  78. Damian Watson says:

    Adam which site are you streaming from? I have a couple of internet sites that show every AFL game and sports event live, it’s probably the same site as yours.

  79. look at it this way.
    if Toovey looks like Superman then WHY arent i attracted to Toovey!
    Case Closed!

  80. Steve Healy says:

    none of those sites work on my computer.

    Danni, you need to see past his possum eyes

  81. Steve- shutup!
    Toovey and Superman DON’T look alike!

  82. Steve Healy says:

    think what you like Danni, think what you like

  83. She’s thinkin about Toovey then

  84. Steve Superman has tigher facial structure in the cheeks and jaw! Toovey has a baby face!

  85. So does Shaun Higgins, i hate Higgins face it annoys me

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