Hot on the heels of of my mention of Quality Telly, along comes a classic example of today’s Rubbish Telly.
The sad thing is that it relates to factual content, and shows how many such programmes are becoming trivialised by their lack of objectivity as they are being produced by people with a personal message that they are using their privileged position to present, instead of presnting their subject from a neutral, or balanced perspective.
Last night we had a programme in the Dispatches series on Channel 4, outwardly promoted in its pre-publicity blurb as some sort of expose of how the supermarkets are lying to their customers on the labelling describing the contents of their products.
Instead of learning something of value and interest (and I have to declare here that the presentation was so poor and irritating that I kept channel-hopping while it was on), all we seemed to be treated to was the presenters campaign against the various methods of labelling, and an incessant moan about how all the supermarkets were not forced by the Government to use the same labelling system. At no point did we appear to be presented with any basis for the apparent pre-programme publicity that the supermarkets were lying anywhere, and the presenters problem seemed to be that they were simply too thick, and assumed that everyone else was similarly thick, and couldn’t read the label and make any sort of decision based on what was reported there.
They want labels colour coded, so that we (rather they) can see whether the contents are low, medium, or high, in respect of the amount of any particular constituent eg salt, sugar etc. While I’m sure this may seem like a good solution to them, this is a joke, as it means that they don’t have to decide, and can rely on someone else to decide exactly what constitutes high, medium, or low. To see what a farce such a system is (as opposed to simply reporting the amounts on the label), one simply has to look at the steadily falling figure given by the Government for ‘safe’ alcohol consumption over the years. Outwardly a simple figure of ‘alcohol units’, with one for men and one for women, it remains ignored, with consumers not having a clue what a unit is, how it relates to the different strengths of drink available, and clueless when it comes to assessing how the figure varies for a sub-10 stone featherweight, and a 20 stone man-mountain. They just ignore it, drink what they want, and have a good binge to forget it.
The programme (maker) tried to make points about the labelling and methods of reporting the contents, but the best they could come up with was griping about thinks like the cereal manufacturers quoting 30 gramme servings. They rubbished this by giving some kids a bowl and a packet of cereal, and coming up with the shock surprise result that most kids poured themselves a larger helping than 30 grammes, and then rubbished the figure because no-one knew what 30 grammes was anyway.
After that sort of stupid comment, one is left wondering if the maker was truly interested in their subject, or just filling a programme slot, and earning a commission for doing so.
Why was the comment stupid? Well, if the consumers the programme is so keen to provide with ‘correct’ information about the content of the product are smart enough to be as concerned as it claims, aren’t they going to have at least some sort of a clue about what 30 grammes of product is?