Are we losing our square eyes?


By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

The author and journalist Edward Lucas was arguing the other day that because television – or the Devil’s Box as he dubbed it – was no longer ‘the centre of cultural life’ there was no justification for the continuation of the TV licence fee.

He made persuasive points, as one would expect from a senior editor at The Economist, and I almost found myself believing him.

Whether or not the BBC deserves to keep the fee will probably be debated until the white dot at the centre of the screen disappears – and I can see both sides of this argument.

The BBC is a British institution and must be preserved, but it is flabby, wasteful with public money and an easy target for the Government over its perceived bias so obviously reform is needed.

However, what was more interesting was the line that Mr Lucas, who was writing in a respected national newspaper, had never owned a TV and nor had his parents (his father was an Oxford don) when he was growing up.

Therefore he would have been excluded from a great deal of social interaction when younger as the previous night’s TV (along with the weather) was generally the hottest topic of conversation back in the 1970s.

In the days before the interweb was invented, TV, radio and newspapers were generally our only sources of information and popular culture – and to restrict yourself to missing out on a third of that was to really keep yourself in the dark.

And that, be it for better or worse, must surely have shaped the future adult that Edward Lucas was to become. He would have had a significant lack of reference points from the likes of Blue Peter, Horizon or even On The Buses (to name but three at random) – but would an increased amount of erudite knowledge make him a better person?


But, given that so many people have learned so much from TV, I can’t really believe that its existence has been anything other than a good thing.

But what of today?

I have instant access to hundreds of channels, but probably watch 10 on a regular basis. What do I learn? That watching TV costs me considerably more than it has ever done and without sport I’d probably be left with Ripper Street, Mock The Week and Only Connect as my only viewing habits.

The many and various ways of watching programmes and receiving information that are available now have certainly negated television’s influence and it is a damn sight easier to be TV-free and still keep up with life than it was in the 1970s.

But, in so many households, TV remains the dominant centre of cultural and social life – otherwise why are we buying them in ever-increasing sizes?

My daughter often prefers to watch on her iPad, others do on a phone, but traditionalists such as me will stick with a large screen, even if I do opt to decide what to watch and when.

Pass me the remote…