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C'mon Seven, get with the program

Talking heads: Channel Seven's broadcast of the AFL has left a bit to be desired.

Talking heads: Channel Seven's broadcast of the AFL has left a bit to be desired. Photo: Penny Stephens

WITH nine games a week, the television coverage has become an integral part of football discussion. So it's impossible to ignore an issue that has an army of diehard fans just about ready to riot only a month into the season.

It's Channel Seven's AFL coverage, which, not to put too fine a point on it, has totally missed the mark this year. Technically infuriating and unbelievably self-indulgent.

Yes, the viewing figures are healthy for Seven, as they should be with no free-to-air competitor for the same audience. And yes, it now throws in some before-and-after-game analysis, correcting a previous sore point. But boy, do the match broadcasts leave a bit to be desired.

Let's start with the technical stuff. I'm not as fussed as some about the refusal to broadcast in high definition, as long as we get a reasonably clear picture. But I do want to see what the bloody hell is going on. And that's not happening.

Seven's directors are obsessed with two things - close-ups and replays. The former, time and time again, show lots of bodies hurling themselves at the ball in all their close-up, sweaty glory. And because of that, you regularly have absolutely no idea where that ball is in relation to the goals.

The obsession seemed to reach new heights in Friday night's Fremantle-Carlton clash. Here's how it goes. Wide shot tracking a player running on to the ball with the goals in sight, suddenly cuts to ground-level close-up, the posts nowhere to be seen. By the time the wide shot is taken again, it's already a goal or behind, none of us any the wiser at the actual moment the ball has been kicked.

If you have a vested interest in either team involved in the game, it's unbearable. If you're any sort of footy fan, still maddening.

But what I just cannot grasp is, if you're the sort of "larger audience" we're continually told the broadcaster needs to attract, why would you find it any less annoying?

OK, so the close-up might offer the half-interested a bit more visual candy. But if they are to become the rusted-on viewer of football on TV that Seven presumably wants, don't they also need to have some idea of the result of all that microscopically filmed physical endeavour?

Don't you need to know whether the bloke who has dived into the pack near goal, extracted the ball and thrown it on his boot has actually kicked a goal? What's the point otherwise? You might as well be showing the wrestling.

Then there are the replays. Yes, they're useful devices. Not, however, when they're shown several times over, often of stuff with little consequence, at the expense of the live action. Ask a ruckman, many of whose centre-bounce work is lucky to be shown at all, the cameras often returning to the fray well after the tap has been won or lost.

Or take Saturday night, when St Kilda's Brendon Goddard and Melbourne's Jordie McKenzie had a spat that resulted in Goddard earning a free kick. McKenzie then brilliantly smothered the kick. "Wowee, did you see all that?" screamed Brian Taylor.

Well, no, actually Brian, because we were watching a replay of Goddard shoving McKenzie. Never mind, though, because then we did get a replay of the smother instead of the next passage of play.

Speaking of commentators, why has Seven turned Bruce McAvaney and Dennis Cometti, two of the best callers televised football has had, into some sort of pantomime act?

McAvaney's knowledge made him what he was. Now it's all about "delicious", "loosies", and any other cringeworthy piece of quirkiness that will enable the whole team to talk about themselves endlessly at the expense of the game.

Cometti's one-liners were best delivered impromptu and understated. Now they're set up with all the subtlety of Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. All that's missing is the "boom-tish" on the drums in the background.

Special comments? If Seven was serious about them, it would have gone out and got clearly the best two comments men to have emerged in the past few years - David King and Matthew Lloyd.

But perhaps in a bid to cultivate a "softer, gentler" feel, they went out and got a cavalcade of "good blokes" who, frankly, don't have a lot to say.

This year, it seems they've got Brett Kirk, to play up his more spiritual side. As captain of one of the most competitive midfields the modern era has seen, he could have been telling us plenty of substance.

Instead, we've been treated to a free-form-type intro to a Saturday broadcast that has become a cult hit on YouTube with its references to "energy exchanges" and last Friday night a story on Adam Goodes, which talked about him spreading "light and love to all in his presence".

The saddest comment on Seven's coverage of today is that if you watch a game on the same network from any time prior to the turn of the millennium, you'll find far fewer bells and whistles, but callers actually calling the game, and vision that actually has some context within that game. More statistics, too.

Instead now, we have a "Megawall", colourful crowd shots, little in-jokes about BT's fat fingers, WAGs and wacky voiced-over "plays of the week". Very clever. Very 21st century.

But Seven, please spare us your catchphrase "We just love the footy". Because the genuine fans of the game know you really don't. And that if you did, you wouldn't be insulting our intelligence, or treating us with the contempt you have so far in 2012.


  • Rohan,
    thanks so much for having the, um, intestinal fortitude to write this article. It is about time that someone in the media wrote what all true fans are thinking about the abysmal coverage by Channel 7. It's getting unbearable.

    Keep fighting the good fight!


    Date and time
    April 30, 2012, 12:20AM
    • The telecast could be better, Dennis and Bruce are fine but there are far too many expert comments. I watch most of the matches, until midway through the third quarter with the sound right down. The crowd back ground noise at yesterdays match between West Coast and Richmond was so loud. They need to do some thing about the way they have miked up the crowd area.

      the Coast
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:33AM
    • Rohan - you've only just caught on. This self indulgent crap has been happening for years.

      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:38AM
    • Rohan, Your article is Centimetre Perfect and in HD (Honourable Definitions) ... Thankyou, when will they ever learn.

      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 8:10AM
    • All of you stop your winging.

      7 is awful, but nothing compares to 7 filtered through Prime.

      Delayed matches, dropped matches, ads inserted over the action. Matches replaced with thirty-year-old films nobody watched the first time round.

      And that's if they've bothered paying for their transmitter this week.

      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 8:53AM
    • With most people having big screen TVs these days, Seven's step back to standard definition is unforgivable. Whenever they switch to a wide angle shot we get to watch pixelated Lego-men chasing a blurry dot. I find it VERY annoying. Given that they used to show us the games in HD but decided it cost too much only makes it more insulting.

      Lego Men Arent Cool
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 10:20AM
    • Has there ever been a larger discrepancy between the fans expectation of how their sport is to be covered on tv and the sport coverage that has been delievered? Some of the blame needs to be directed to the AFL. They have a level of responsibility to ensure that a certain quality and standard is met of the coverage of their product ... I would seriously doubt any others sport in the world with similar turnover is shown in HD. And to think Andy D was not aware of the SD coverage until after the tv rights #aflcoverageinthedarkages

      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 1:18PM
    • Agreed!. It is disappointing when Foxtel take Channel 7's feed because 7's coverage and particularly the commentary is usually appaling (now as bad as 9's aged cricket commentary).

      I'm surprised you didn't also mention missing live action to watch the coach's reaction in close up, or worse still, to focus on Eddy, Joffa or Megan in the crowd. Who cares? Jeez, 7 and Fox if you have to show this rubbish, just do it in a small window in the corner of the screen.

      Viv R
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 1:21PM
    • Channel 7 has yet to broadcast more than 2 games live on a w/end in perth....why did they bother bidding for the rights? why do they have 5 digital channels and not show the 4 games live, as they advertised before the season started, on one of them? Friday night football has never been live in perth on 7, consequently the fulltime result is know before end of the 1st qtr. CH7 is a very poor broadcaster indeed.

      joe b
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 2:04PM
    • Seven do this with the tennis as well...ground-level camera shots from behind a player during play and you really can't get a sense of what the heck is going on...very frustrating, and also in the Ch7 coverage of tennis, the "Quiet Please" interruptions for advertisements superimposed on a fake billboards in the very counterproductive for the greater good of the sport..but apparently for the good of Seven?

      Flamin heck Seven...
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 2:07PM

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