Cases of bad timing leave viewers with that empty feeling

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 1995, 12:00am

SCHEDULING irregularities continue to bedevil Hong Kong television.

What you read in the newspaper or listings magazine often bears little resemblance to what actually appears as the programmers change their schedules at the last minute.

This is especially bad when the programme you want to see is not shown.

But it's almost as bad when a good programme you didn't expect turns up out of the blue.

So many times in the past TVB Jade has shown a big English or Italian soccer match live with no prior notice in the print media. It's probably a late programming decision and TVB should be praised for trying to put on such appealing games but it's happened so often before that you feel obliged to stay up late just on the off chance of a big game being shown.

It's great if you're lucky enough to tune in at the right moment but frustrating if you don't and only hear about it afterwards.

Such a case happened with Prime last week. As the station builds towards it's live coverage of the Rugby World Cup in 10 days' time it has started showing rugby-related documentary and magazine shows to set the scene. The excellent Rugby Hall of Fame has featured profiles of David Campese and Andy Irvine in its first two episodes. They were listed.

But the film of the 1991 World Cup - One World in Union, came as a complete bolt out of the blue. Narrated by Eddie Butler, this 90-minute documentary was a superb reminder of the last tournament. But if you hadn't been lucky enough to be channel-hopping you'd never have known it was on.

Wharf Sports have been bad culprits of scheduling misdemeanours in recent weeks with the Monday night-Tuesday morning English soccer match. They carry ESPN promos for the game saying it will be shown live . . . but it isn't.

Last week it happened with Blackburn v Newcastle. Even the usually reliable Michael King bothered to advise viewers of his Wharf News Sports bulletin to watch the game on Channel 10. But Channel 10 showed a Dutch club game at the appointed hour. Doubtless it was a liaison failure between Wharf Sport, Wharf News and ESPN. However, over on Channel 23 the game could be seen. Channel 23 is being used as a trial for the 24-hour ESPN channel which should launch on June 1 - when that happens these unfortunate discrepancies would be ironed out.

STATION promos can be very misleading. Prime's ad for the Euro-Asia soccer Challenge, which it will show live, is a case in point.

'Two of Britain's top clubs come to Asia. Arsenal and Tottenham. Klinsmann & Co go head to head.' So ran the ad, clearly giving the false impression that the north London rivals would be facing each other in the territory when, in fact, they will be playing different Hong Kong opponents.

They won't even be playing on the same day. It's not Prime's fault that events have overtaken them and Klinsmann may not come at all now but the ads were extremely misleading.

Then there are the ads which are not so much misleading as downright confusing or laughable.

In the latter category comes ESPN's ad for Brazilian Paulista League soccer which signs off with a very fanciful: 'See the exhilaration, skills and endurance beyond reality.' Isn't that sort of talk more suitable in Ringling Brothers or WWF wrestling? Then there's the ESPN golf ad. If you can for a moment just visualise the accompanying footage of a man and his caddy playing a frustrating round, what follows is a word-for-word transcript of such a promo.

'Reality begins with thought. In that domain you are the master. You must control your mind to control your body to control the ball. The ball, in turn, reflects the depth of your self knowledge. The ball betrays your mental anguish. We all want that control. That's why we watch. Let ESPN show us the way.' This way to pseuds' corner.

LAST week was the first time this decade that TVB didn't show the European Cup Winners' Cup final live. It was carried only on Wharf-ESPN in the territory. There are probably legal-contractual reasons for this but it's a sad state of affairs because the match was a lively affair settled by an amazing Nayim goal. Yet only the relatively small Wharf audience could see it in the territory. How TVB's army of avid soccer fans would have lapped it up.