17 December 2009

Why does a government department force visitors to watch Sky News in silence?

If you want to get really steamed up about 'scandalous wastes of tax payers money', you can't beat spending a day or two in a government department - as I did earlier this week.

Needless to say, I'm not talking about the extraordinarily worthwhile benefits they gain from paying modest fees to external consultants like me.

What does concern and baffle me are the two gigantic flat screen television sets that were mounted side by side on a wall in the reception area. At first sight, you might think, it's a nice idea to deploy top of the range TV sets to provide some entertainment for visitors as they wait to be allowed a little bit further into the building.

Why silent movies?
But just what is the point of wasting money on two identical TV screens showing the same programme with the sound turned off?

Are they trying to improve their visitors' lip-reading skills, or is visual wallpaper some kind of subliminal protest against the ever-more prevalent scourge of piped music?

Why Sky News?
Then there's the question of why the viewing of choice from a government department should be Sky News?

If the idea is that their visitors might be interested in the ticker-tape 'breaking news' captions, why don't they show us publicly-funded BBC News 24, which would at least spare us from having to watch commercials funneling yet more cash into the Murdoch family's pockets?

Or is it a last feeble attempt by a dying government to persuade the owners of The Sun to reverse their newspaper's support for the Conservative Paty at the forthcoming general election?

Whatever the answer is to these perplexing questions, would you spend thousands of pounds of your company's hard-earned money on state of the art television sets for showing silent (news) movies to your visitors?


Will said...

I've been in a fair number of business reception areas that do just that. But agree it is surely not to much to ask they put on the subtitles...

finiteattentionspan said...

My dentist's does this. My gym does this. My local Tesco does it, for crying out loud. It makes me absolutely insane. Not least because I loathe Murdoch in all his election-rigging repulsiveness.

Inexplicable, unless they are all being paid to show it and reinforce the Sky brand.

Reinforce this, I say.

dreamingspire said...

The idea is that you can read the ticker along the bottom - so why not mix tickers from half a dozen channels and just display them? Oh - that way you would not be able to ogle the presenters and admire the graphics.

Max Atkinson said...

I'm in another office building today showing Sky News in its reception area. But they've actually got the sound switched on, so you don't have to guess what the story is about. So far, I haven't asked why their preferred 24 hr news channel is Sky News.

morpork@blueyonder.co.uk said...

Who needs sound? Surely watching old-time silents such as the Keystone Kops in action would better prepare anyone visiting a government department, or anywhere else for that matter. Or other classics such as Charlie Chaplin eating his boot, Buster Keaton having the house collapse around him or Harold Lloyd hanging by his fingernails on to the skyscraper's clockface could be adopted by the appropriate department according to its current policies.