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• His work with Artists for Peace and Justice
• UN Ambassadorship for The World Food Programme
Friday, December 29, 2006
Has The Hour Lost Its Relevance?
Personally, and sadly, for me, the show is no longer a factor in my daily existence. This is primarily a function of the unfortunate scheduling changes that The Hour has undertaken this season, but even disregarding that factor, I have been hearing cries of discontent regarding changes to the format itself.
One of the primary complaints seems to be the disconnect with the viewing audience. With the show moving to a taped format, one level of communication with viewers, the real time response to emails, has been removed. Although the show is now taped in front of a live audience, it seems strangely removed from the immediacy that was once such a vibrant part of the show's fabric. The (admittedly) few times I have been able to watch the show this year, the presence of an audience did not seem to add any degree of life to the show. Rather, their presence had no more impact on the show than a laugh track would provide. In contrast to past seasons, where the addition of an audience for special occasions, most particularly when the show went on the road, added a real spark and a real connection to the Canadian public, the presence of a daily audience now feels mundane and, I'm sorry to say, a trifle pointless.
The website, which appears to have been an integral part of the show's function since its inception, continues to post daily video clips and this year has included a complete download of the previous day's show. And this of course begs the question, is the website enhancing The Hour's presence on television or it is actually replacing the show? Does having the entire episode available on-line in fact increase the overall audience numbers, or is download viewing simply cannibalizing the existing audience?
When The Hour first aired, it was unique in its presentation of rapid-fire short snippets in amongst lengthier and more indepth stories. All these seemingly disparate parts flowed into a surprisingly uniform and seamless show. But with some of us being turned off the show by scheduling inequities, others choosing to watch only those video clips of immediate interest on the website, is The Hour as an entity still fulfilling a need of the Canadian public?
With the rise of YouTube culture and the collective shrinking of the human attention span, can we even sustain an hour long (well in reality, 40 minutes) daily program of this nature? Or will we one day be reduced to simply watching a series of video clips on the website?
- Barbara B