Colin Hogg on television

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Colin Hogg: Heading to the shops - from the couch

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Boundaries between ads and information blur when it comes to flogging goods on TV.

Jeanette Thomas and Rod Cheeseman front Good Morning. Photo / Supplied
Jeanette Thomas and Rod Cheeseman front Good Morning. Photo / Supplied

I've been watching the future of television. Well, as much as I could bear to watch. Good Morning and the Shopping Channel aren't easy viewing for the uninitiated.

But this is where TV's going to be going, after all, the place where those annoying old boundaries between the ads and the info are all nice and blurry - or not even that blurry.

There's nothing remotely blurry about the recently launched 24-hour Shopping Channel, which sets out to do just what its name suggests. With the aid of a retinue of B-grade personalities to jog it along, it turns hard sell into a marathon sports event, testing the outer limits of endurance on the parts of both presenters and viewers.

This is the world of the "call now" 0800 number where nothing's ever full price though the true price is often not clear. It's a casino for retail junkies. It is what it is. It's pure. It's so pure it has ad breaks between the ads.

Good Morning is a little less pure, though it comes as something of a relief after the mind-numbing repetition of Breakfast.

Presenters Jeanette Thomas and Rod Cheeseman have an easy breezy style that seems almost sophisticated after Breakfast's Petra Bagust and Rawdon Christie, but that impression fades as the three-hour show unfolds.

It's almost as concerned as the Shopping Channel with selling things - and not just in the infomercial spots presented by the tall and tireless Aroha Hathaway.

Some of those spots turn out to be the most compelling parts of the show. I was very tempted by the amazing Transformer Ladder. According to the semi-demented tradesman Aroha was "interview-ing" about the amazing ladder, it was actually 24 ladders in one.

They had me so excited by its possibilities, I would have rung the 0800 line immediately, except I wasn't clear on the price of the extraordinary ladder. All they revealed was that I wouldn't have to pay the full price of $1200.

Later in the show there were extended infomercials for the inevitable abdomen-enhancing equipment and something else to help me "eliminate those ugly love handles".

Chef Alison Gofton did pop up at one point and offer a recipe for a decent looking Puy Lentil and Pancetta Lasagne - though it was probably a bit posh for the show's target audience.

Still, Good Morning does its job, slightly entertaining, lightly informing, but mostly openly selling things. Again, there are ad breaks between the ads.

But television's swiftly becoming too greedy to keep the ads confined to their oversized breaks. They're slipping around, shape shifting and popping up all over the place.

Sponsorship is the suit any smart TV show wears these days, but the dress code is becoming much looser elsewhere. We've recently had a local version of The Block, which set new records for product placement without apparently bothering its sea of viewers.

One supposedly credible TV front man has been seen on screen promoting a chocolate bar in a newsy manner. It's a blurry world.

There's been speculation recently about what sort of show will replace TV One's soon-to-die Close Up and I'm putting my money on one called Good Night. There'll be a sponsor, of course and some product placement - discreet at first.

Hard sell

* The Shopping Channel (channel 18 Sky, Freeview)
* Good Morning (TV One weekdays, 9am).

- NZ Herald

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