TV

TV gripes: Readers name and shame things they dislike about Australian broadcasters.

Shows that start and end late, or disappear mid-season, incorrect on-screen program guides and gambling spruiker Tom Waterhouse: these are the things that drive TV viewers insane.

The TV Tonight website asked more than 1200 readers to air their grievances about Australian broadcasters and name and shame the worst offenders.

Viewers are forgiving when a live show runs overtime but when it's pre-recorded, they're not. 

''I've been running the survey for five years and it's the same top three complaints every year,'' said editor David Knox, who publishes the results on Sunday.

''But I had a new question about banning gambling ads and that got a huge response. It was the fifth most important issue overall.''

Mr Knox did not ask readers specifically about Waterhouse, but they often single out the gaming identity in their comments. ''Whenever they discuss gambling ads on my website, he becomes the villain,'' he said.

The Seven Network was named the least reliable at starting programs on time, leapfrogging last year's prime culprit, Nine. Yet Nine was labelled the ''most untrustworthy'' at delivering a series in full and the worst at rescheduling cancelled shows.

In all of these measures, the ABC was viewed the most favourably by a wide margin, Nine and Ten improved while Seven slipped.

Seven's reality juggernauts My Kitchen Rules, House Rules and The X Factor were highlighted as the worst for starting and ending late. Mr Knox suspects these infractions are not accidental, pointing to a comment from a rival programmer.

''If you've got the opportunity to overrun the start of a competing program, then that's what you do,'' Nine's Melbourne programmer Len Downs said in 2011. ''When your goal is winning the ratings and you've got a successful show, it becomes tactical.''

Mr Knox said his readers complained about Nine bouncing Underbelly Squizzy around various timeslots on Sunday night - then running it past the listed times.

''A show like My Kitchen Rules or Underbelly is filmed months in advance,'' he said. ''Viewers are forgiving when a live show runs overtime but when it's pre-recorded, they're not. They end up not trusting the networks and they create their own programming by time-shifting.''

Networks suffer when this happens because advertisers are reluctant to pay for audiences that aren't live. In a worrying sign for broadcasters, respondents listed completing the national broadband network as the fourth most important issue out of 29.

''I introduced this question because it's been in the news in terms of Foxtel and the election,'' Mr Knox said. ''People want better broadband so they can access [online TV providers], faster catch-up services and other entertainment options, be they legal or illegal.''

Could viewers' frustrations with TV networks fuel demand for online alternatives? ''Definitely,'' Mr Knox said. ''Running programs over time might help a network win in the short term, but not in the long run.''

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