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TV Forums report card

Discussion boards, forums and messageboards. TV Tonight visits TV show websites and rates our networks. Who invites your comments and who would rather you just went away?

Since the advent of online, television fans have had ways of letting networks know what they think. No more writing letters to newspapers, it’s as easy as logging onto a network website anonymously and speaking your mind.

TV Tonight has been looking at how our networks embrace free and open discussion. Here’s how they stacked up.

ABC:
Within the ABC site there are individual show pages, many of which have open forums. Shows including Enough Rope, Compass, Can We Help?, At The Movies, Life at 3, Good Game, Media Watch, Spicks and Specks and Sunday Arts all feature messages from viewers, both positive and negative. Some shows like The Hollowmen and Very Small Business didn’t feature a discussion board. The ABC also features a more general message board divided into ABC1, ABC2 and ABC TV Online, but within these there is no clear heirarchy, making it near impossible to find a topic or discussion. Linked by a “Have Your Say” link on the TV homepage, many viewers head straight to the general board, ignoring shows that have specific boards. Some nifty navigation might help send the right comments to the rightful homes, which will only help everyone in the long run. Grade: B

SEVEN:
Seven has separate messageboards for key shows, which operate on a “last post first” basis per show. As part of the Yahoo brand, it requires contributors to have a Yahoo ID. A number of posts have been deleted for “breach of service” along with some complaints by users that their negative comments have been removed. That said, there are still plenty of negative and positive posts. Sunrise’s very-developed website appears to include discussion mostly for specific topics such as “Why can’t women break the glass ceiling?” and “Are we a nation of cheapskates?” The show’s personalities have individual blogs with reader comments, with a handful of comments, which were overwhelmingly positive. The Morning Show‘s only comments were so old they wished the presenters “good luck with the new show.” On Dancing with the Stars readers were unhappy with “racist comments” by Sonia Kruger. Prison Break fans are angry over the show resting for 3 weeks. Today Tonight’s site invites feedback, but doesn’t appear to publish it, not even allowing discussion on its most recent stories. For programmes without a dedicated forum, viewers are sent to a Yahoo messageboard for television which even includes forums for Australian Idol and Big Brother. GRADE: C

NINE:
Nine’s site is desperately in need of a makeover. There is one gigantic discussion board expected to support almost all of its brands. Only 8 shows are listed with unique forums -the rest are lumbered into a general discussion, again making it nigh on impossible to track any conversation. Right now popular topics include complaints about the absence of Fringe and questions over the return of McLeod’s Daughters. The 9HD forum is exploding with complaints. 60 Minutes dedicated blog welcomes comments on its stories, but The Today show site has no viewer input visible. Kerri-Anne Kennerley has added a blog on her own site, but there is no reader contribution element either. A Current Affair story comments are attached to a video -very hard to find. The Nine News site, in conjunction with MSN, allows comments on certain news stories. The overall impression of inviting viewer input, is that it is currently very far down Nine’s priority list. GRADE: D.

TEN:
TEN has a single messageboard for most of its shows, with a long title list allowing comments. Popular threads include a call for Burn Notice to return. Supernatural is popular. There is even a section to ask a TEN moderator questions. Like Nine, the TEN HD forum indicates lots of confusion. Other shows have dedicated sites / messageboards including 9am with David and Kim, So You Think You Can Dance, Neighbours, Australian Idol and 90210 -lots of calls for the latter to return. Rove’s site is devoid of any comments. Generally speaking, the TEN board appears to function with some order and focus. For a network with younger viewers it’s just as well. GRADE: B+.

SBS:
Key SBS shows have their own site and forums including First Australians, Global Village, My Generation, The Circuit, Insight, Dateline and more. But there is no general messageboard, meaning if the show isn’t listed comment isn’t invited. With just 14 titles listed (including radio) this leaves too many shows on the outer. Mythbusters forum link didn’t work. There is no place to discuss Top Gear Australia (TV Tonight has previously reported SBS doesn’t have copyright to run these over the TGA magazine). Bogan Pride invites no comment -a spokesperson recently told TV Tonight comments would return once abuse had been cleaned up. It hasn’t. As yet no comments for Swift and Shift Couriers have been published. And the Newstopia forum appears to be so unmoderated as to include some comments full of obscenity and racial vilification. For SBS this is unacceptable. GRADE: D.

FOXTEL:
Foxtel parcels any viewer interaction off to separate channels, many of which are separately managed. But in doing this it sidesteps the need for a general viewer messageboard too. Where do viewers post comments on subscription fees, new channels, upgrades or customer service? They appear to be unwelcome. A few channels have excellent messageboards including Arena, W Channel, Channel [V] and Sci Fi. The History Channel’s forum didn’t load. Others including FOX Sports and Sky News are either non-existent or useless. Some individual shows also feature good forums including Australia’s Next Top Model and Football Superstar. But all Crime Investigation Australia offered was a poll. With so many channels and shows it was impossible to check them all, but Pay TV appears to have both top and bottom of the class players. It really needs a general subscriber’s forum pronto. GRADE: C.

Running an effective messageboard for a television show clearly requires not just good design and navigation, but ongoing attention, including moderation. Some sites are clearly under-resourced when it comes to such support. The best ones are simple to find and participate in, with a clear balance of positive and critical commentary.

If you’ve had an experience in adding comment to a network show, feel free to share your thoughts. And as with any website, remember to abide by conditions of use (refer footer!).

32 Responses

  1. If you are going to show the Golf Show the Golf , not start halfway through with English sports Which is of No Interest at all to the Majority of Australians but the Golf is one weekend and a very important tour The Bridgestone , so please get your act together and show the Damn Golf you bunnies and the Omni sport gave a leader board result that was ahead of your Socalled live coverage ***********

    am I a Little annoyed ??? you bet ya and so are many others

  2. And That’s The Way It Is

    -Walter Cronkite, CBS News, For 19 Years: 1962-1981.

    The religion here is slick and fast and so polished as to have no name, soaked-up, subliminal and not-so-subliminal, night after night, a ritual aesthetic, fills the spaces, tele-grazing vidiots, coccooning, periscopes up, retreating, hermetically sealed in a sensual immediacy and intensity, perceptions rendered into many
    languages, structured, amusing ourselves to death in an endless round of entertainment and some disturbing shallowness, glamour, exoticism and chicness with our
    perceptions structured, in an eider-down of unreality and a smorgasbord of ephemeral, light-weight, engineered appearances with revolution coming to be closer to sheer impulse-a narcotizing dysfunction and truth running along behind an implosion of playful trivia..knowledge’s vast explosion everywhere in evidence…….

    Ron Price

  3. In response to Channel Ten having decent forums and Border Patrol “Senior Moderator” beating their own drum.

    I am incredulous at the inconsistency of moderation on the Channel Ten forums. Consistent favoritism for example allowing “long term online friends” to post anything they like while beating down newbies, deleting and locking threads because “it is already being discussed” without posting a link to where the topic is already being discussed.

    Regulars seem to be able to post anything they like, including sexually suggestive posts. While newbies are consistently beaten into silence by having their posts deleted and their starting threads locked without any real explanation or any link to where their thought might already be being discussed.

    The forums on Channel Ten are a total clique. They might be great for the long term posters and regulars but as for new posters, forget it. The moderators do not want new posters and neither do the regulars.

  4. Thanks Channel 10 for the great Rush webpage which includes an excellent forum!! Not only are there all the episodes on there, there is also Behind the Scenes footage and trailers for the following episodes.

    The forum is fantastic with heaps of people weighing in on what’s going to happen in future episodes and giving their interpretations of what has happened in past episodes.

    Keep up the great work with the forums and the show!!

  5. Not really bothered with checking out forums run by Networks.
    Call me cynical but get feeling anything controversial or too negative would get censored heavily.

    Anyway being totally honest, since I found this site many moons ago, I do not feel the need to go elsewhere.

    TV Tonight offers me opportunity to have my say, keeps me much more informed and upto date than vast majority of other media and in many cases before the networks even bother to tell us.

    Throw in the bonus that other users are prepared and allowed to ‘have their say’ within reason, even if I don’t agree with their opinion.

    Plus super bonus, I don’t have to make phone call or vote sms to be heard.

  6. Hi David, I am also a senior moderator on the TEN Site and appreciate your positive feedback on the TEN forums. I am blessed to be able to work with a great team who help to make the forums a user friendly and safe environment for all aged members to be involved in.

    I agree with your comment re: HD, very confussing for many at the moment, however, we (moderating team) do support the members with their questions and concerns quickly and do so because we have amazing administrators, who in turn support us with the information and tech support we need to keep meeting the needs of our members.

    OK back to forums for me also so I can work on that A+ rating for your next review.

    Keep up the great work. Cheers. BP

  7. i use 10’s website all the time, if i miss a shows ep its rite there to watch with no hassels, if you have a question about something its answered by moderators who help us as much as they can, and its been upgraded which makes it alot more easy to use

  8. Yes the Gruen Transfer site is very dedicated, and I’ve previously reported on it before. It was impossible to check each show, so I focussed mostly on ones that are current (naturally their comments haven’t moved much since August).

    That said, I wasn’t reviewing actual website designs, so much as capacity to invite comment. It’s not about who has the snazziest website but who allows for easy viewer comment.

  9. The Comedy Channel used to have a very active messageboard that was shut down after people kept complaining about the endless repeating of the same half a dozen shows. Sadly, the only thing that seems to have changed is the fact that it is a different half a dozen shows.

  10. Hi David, I am one of the Senior moderators on the Channel 10 forums. Thanks for the report card. Its actually great feedback for Admin, Senior moderators, and Junior moderators. It takes a lot of work by all of us to keep the forums in good shape. We have some very dedicated posters on all of the forums. (You missed a few of the other forums – video hits and Biggest Loser). I have of course gone to the other boards to check them out, but sometimes they are hard to follow. However, I guess I am now used to our set up to be fair. Anyway, back to the forums for me lol

  11. Nice analysis David!

    Nine’s is pretty pathetic. I’m sure people have noticed that the tv shows that people desperately want back on the air are at the very front of the discussion board, probably to discourage people from calling them directly, and minimal effort by the network. Moonlight, McLeods, Fringe etc.

    The day that prison break’s season premiere came out (september 2) an entire thread of getting the show via other means was deleted, i guess not surprisingly

    10’s is pretty good since its reinvention.

  12. Nope Knuttsy…. A blog has a different purpose to a messageboard in my book, and we have several TV messageboards out there already, both within networks and independently run. There’s ample comment on posts here and a TV Lounge for other comment. I’m comfortable staying as a blog!

  13. i hate channel 9’s website. no information whatsoever. when a show’s not on the air it’s impossible to find. or even the shows on really late.
    channel 7’s is……ok i guess.. but i really like channel ten’s. it has all the shows that have been on it in the past 8 years. like the OC and veronica mars. which i am hoping will be repeated on TEN HD as the third season isn’t availiable on DVD yet.
    i think network websites should always have information on the shows that aren’t on the Air atm. and tell us if it’s ever gonna return. and every show should be availiable to watch online

  14. have to say I agree with the report card. Some networks websites are so nazi it’s not funny. And some don’t seem to give a hoot about the viewer, and there’s me thinking that we the viewers were the actual customer of the network. I have a producer friend who said to me that all TV is concerned with is advertising revenue, at first i didn’t believe him but now I really do! Because the way shows are axed left right and centre it appears that networks have lost the plot and they don’t want to read about it on their websites.

  15. Thanks David – a very intersting topic. Over the past few years I have frequented the Ten and NIne sites – sometimes to ask questions, other times to complain and quite often to enter into a discussion or two (forum style) about my favourite shows – e.g. BB, Idol, The BIggest Loser, Survivor, The Amazing Race.

    Nine’s “Discussion Board” is a poor excuse and does not even live up to its name. It does not allow true discussion. Posts are moderated, fair enough, yet spoilers still get through – which I am particularly annoyed about when one of my BIG issues is the delay in which they are screening the Survivor franchise. At the very least if you are going to take 12 – 24 hours to allow posts to be read, then moderate for the good of all. Channel 9 never offers any comment or answers to questions that are posted in their Discussion Board. Still, I like to vent, and I figure someone at NIne must monitor public opinion via this medium – even if they don’t want us to think so. There is no attempt to keep popular “threads” at the forefront of the board so discussion can continue – you have to troll through old pages to see if another viewer has replied or added to your post.

    Ten’s set up is far more real in terms of discussion and the specific sites for the big shows have served them well over the years – allowing people to develop online “friendships” etc. Ten does at least try to answer programming questions as they are posted – I respect them for that.

    I have had very little hands on experience at Seven or ABC – so unfair to comment.

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