Archive for September 28th, 2009

Subliminal advertising for Desperate Housewives during FlashForward

It took me three viewings to notice this, but there was what appears to be a subliminal ad for Desperate Housewives during the premiere of FlashForward, which screened on Seven this evening.

I was actually trying to check something on the television screens shown in a store window while Mark Benford was on his way to the hospital, but I let the video run and that’s when I noticed it. In the background while Mark is talking to his wife on the phone, a stationary bus comes in to view briefly, and on the side of it there is a banner which advertises Desperate Housewives, and contains the ABC America logo. I was watching the ABC footage at the time so I wasn’t overly surprised by this, as ABC were carrying watermarks promoting Desperate Housewives for much of the show, even at the time the banner briefly appeared.

Desperate Housewives banner in the background on FlashForward

I then became curious to see if this was an ABC-only thing, or if it carried through to the syndicated version of the show. As I didn’t have a recording of what aired on Seven tonight, I resorted to the Seven website which just happened to be carrying the full episode, and sure enough, there it was, ABC logo intact.

Desperate Housewives banner in the background on FlashForward

I count the banner appearing in 19 frames, however it is only fully visible for five frames, or one fifth of a second.

This raises the question of whether Seven were aware that the ad was in the show…I believe that they probably were, as the offending scene appears at the 17:41 mark of the ABC version and the 16:57 mark of the Seven version, which indicates that Seven may have edited the show. It’s also possible that they simply received a cut-down syndicated version of the show, although why there would be a need to cut bits out of the show for syndication, in the case of this show, is beyond me.

Regardless, Seven are responsible, as a broadcast licence holder, for what they put to air, although whether the regulator ACMA would deem this to technically be a subliminal ad is hard to say. Based on previous rulings…probably not.

It’s ruled that a two-frame flash like this… is ‘near the threshold of normal awareness’, and therefore outlawed.

But a three-frame flash – like this… is ‘at or above’ that threshold.

And in ACMA’s world, something that is at or above the threshold isn’t near the threshold.

So that this Yaris flash, which appeared later in the ARIA broadcast and lasts six frames, doesn’t breach the Commercial TV Code of Practice, and is perfectly OK.

So a five frame ad is most likely to be “at or above the threshold of normal awareness” and therefore not in breach…despite the fact that it took me three goes to notice it. Maybe that means that I am below the threshold of normal awareness?

Illegal or not, I still think it’s grubby, and that ACMA’s previous rulings are ludicrous at best, mainly due to the fact that, for ACMA to take any notice of such things, somebody has to first complain to the TV station and then to ACMA, and if they do that, it means they noticed the ad and are therefore aware of it, which kills off notions of the ad being “below awareness”, despite the fact that most people won’t have noticed it.

Where the threshold should be, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it should be much higher than two frames.


2 comments September 28th, 2009 at 11:58pm

Angela Merkel and the centre-right win in Germany

Here’s some news that I find pleasing. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been re-elected in Germany’s federal election, and has had the good fortune of having the centre-right parties claiming a virtually unbeatable number of votes, allowing her to now form coalitions with the parties on her side of politics, rather than forming a squabble with the left-wing parties as she was forced to do in her first term.

This is not only a vote of confidence in Angela and her party (who claimed 34% of the vote), but in her side of politics (the main three parties of which claimed 49% of the vote), and a vote against the main left-wing party who recorded their lowest number of votes since World War Two (23.5%).

It’s nice to see these glimmers of hope occasionally, and see that bits of the world are waking up to the fact that governments and countries based on conservative and capitalist principles benefit everyone, not just in economic terms, but in terms of personal liberty and freedom as well.

Congratulations Angela.


September 28th, 2009 at 05:29pm

FlashForward tonight 8:30 on Seven

I try not to plug TV shows that are already being promoted to death, but I need to make an exception today.

If you haven’t already seen FlashForward, then I highly recommend watching the premiere on Seven tonight at 8:30. I’ll be watching it simply so that I can re-watch it in high definition, having already seen it in standard definition with a few technical glitches.

I have more that I want to say…but as the show hasn’t screened in Australia yet, I don’t want to write anything that would be considered a spoiler.

For now, suffice to say, if FlashForward doesn’t win the ratings for at least the next few weeks, then there is something wrong with the ratings methodology.


September 28th, 2009 at 01:00pm

Alan Jones is back

And Jason Morrison is on leave this week.

Alan has returned after two months of sick leave, and a report in The Australian today quotes Alan as saying that he is negotiating a four-day work week for next year, to help him lighten his load, which is partially seen as the reason for his extended illness.

It’s great to see that Alan is back and taking some steps to protect his health, but I have two questions. Firstly, given the amount of time Alan has had to take off this year, will he work through the summer non-ratings period? Secondly, and more importantly, what will competing stations do next year to program against the Jones-free day?

Alan not working on a weekday gives other stations a golden opportunity to see what does and doesn’t work in a Jones-free environment over an extended period, and over at 2UE, that’s something they will surely relish. The very interesting possibility is that if a station can come up with a format that works, people might just stay for the other four days of the week, and it gives stations a practical trial period before the free-for-all which will occur when Jones comes off contract, which is currently slated for the end of 2013.

That said, 2GB would be well-aware of this, and would be planning to have their own strong non-Jones programming on his off day. One wonders if 2GB may adopt a 4/3 approach to breakfast radio, putting together a news-focussed breakfast show for the three days of the week (including the weekend) that Jones isn’t on-air. Currently, news-focussed breakfast programming is noticeably absent from weekends, and in many ways it is simply not viable to put the required resources in to such a show if it only airs two days per week…but if it airs for three days per week, it might not only be viable, but hold the Friday audience over the weekend. It would also allow 2GB to use the weekend host as a fill-in for Jones, rather than poaching a presenter from their regular weekday shift.

It’s just a thought…but if I were in charge at 2GB, it’s what I would be doing if and when Jones drops back to four days per week.

Regardless of what happens, it’s great to have Alan back on the air, and I’m looking forward to what stations come up with in the coming few years.


September 28th, 2009 at 10:50am

Um, where?

By decree of the New South Wales Police Media unit, Queanbeyan has been relocated.

A police officer will appear in court after allegedly drink driving in the State’s south west yesterday (Friday 25 September).

About 10.45pm an off-duty Detective Senior Constable was driving south along the Jerrabomberra Parkway, Jerrabomberra, when he was stopped by police for the purposes of a random breath test.

The 27-year-old man allegedly returned a positive reading before being arrested and taken to Queanbeyan Police Station for a breath analysis.

Either that, or they’ve just moved selected suburbs to the state’s south-west and are driving an awfully long way to visit the Queanbeyan police station, presumably for sentimental reasons.


September 28th, 2009 at 09:51am

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Some useless information to start your week. Due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is illegal for radio stations in the US to play a song within an hour of it being requested by a listener online. Presumably, this is only for radio stations which have a webstream, and for songs which were not already scheduled to play within an hour of said request…but who knows? And who really wants to try it?

More importantly, how the heck do you enforce that law? There better not be a government minion public servant locked in a small dark room ensuring compliance.


September 28th, 2009 at 08:06am

Canberra drivers can’t drive in the wet

I can not believe how many car accidents I saw over the weekend, especially considering the fact that I only spent about four hours on the road in that time.

I passed three crashes which were being attended by the police, two of them were single vehicle accidents, the other looked like it should have been a single vehicle accident and the other driver found themself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Add to that the four or five abandoned wrecks I drove past and the person who nearly flew out of their lane in to my rear right quarter, and I’m left wondering what caused the carnage.

It really wasn’t that wet over the weekend. We had muddy rain on Friday night which limited my visibility because I couldn’t be bothered washing the car…but the vast majority of crashes occurred last night, by which time more, mostly light rain had washed away the mud. It probably comes down to a combination of people underestimating how wet the roads are after the rain stops, and Saturday nights probably having a higher number of drink-drivers.

In many ways I think Canberra’s roads are more dangerous after the rain than during it…the weekend that just passed seems to lend credence to that theory.


September 28th, 2009 at 05:43am


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