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Platform Paper 21
Though threatened by the internet and cable, blunted by the lowest common denominator, television is still unassailable as the most direct expression of our immediate, collective ambition. Television holds the power to blend truth, scandal and daily information into a re-enactment of life that reinforces popular prejudice in the face of common sense. Or it can cut through, inform and inspire, connect the world and assuage isolation. Where is it going? What is driving our dependence? In a personal reminiscence of the police chases that became Manhunt and the case of Rodney King, to the ‘truth’ behind Underbelly and the ethics of The Footy Show, TV writer Ian David shows how editing can distort and simplify; how management dictates the culture, how unregulated TV can destroy a society. Whatever is caught on camera is fodder for television, he says, and our appreciation of recorded history has undoubtedly been abused. As the digital age gains dominance, the networks must raise their values, recognise past damage and grasp the opportunities offered by the new diversity and the reconstructed global marketplace of the GFC.
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Every day I’m reminded of how television influences us and how we influence it. It shouldn’t be so important, just a small screen in the corner with an on/off switch, a volume knob and a channel selector. However, despite its ephemeral, almost throw-away nature, it is unassailable as the most direct expression of our immediate, collective ambition. Only our sophistication as viewers and the choice afforded proper access and resources can determine whether those aspirations are positive or not