What is counter programming? When a station airs something similar to something else a competitor airs in order to attract an audience or airing something no other channel is airing to bring in a niche audience. Living in a time before that whole ‘Digital Transition’ bullcrap & pre YouTube, there was a ton of counter programming, often by the station’s doing or by some outside person who decided “I’m going to spend money out of my own pocket to buy airtime to do what I wanna do because TV sucks & I wanna be it’s savior.” That excuse often ends in an early cancellation.
PBS is considered Counter Programming, despite the many copycats it spawned off in cable (TLC, A&E, Discovery Channel, History Channel). Public Broadcasting was filling a niche in it’s conception with educational & informational programming. Even through the advent of educational pay channels, PBS still remained counter programming as they offer their content for free without ads, same goes with PBS Kids, which brings me to what I mentioned earlier.
So the word on the street is HBO will fund ‘Sesame Workshop’ for them to make all new episodes of Sesame Street. The other part of the deal is they will only air the new episodes first on HBO, then they’ll be reaired on PBS nine months after their HBO airdate. ‘The AV Club’ perfectly penned the phrase ‘Trickle Down TV’. I don’t watch Sesame Street anymore, mainly because I’m above the demographic (& it‘s not the same anymore), but the idea of trickle down TV isn’t unknown, nor is it horrid. Unfair yes, but not horrible, it beats the idea of Sesame Street only airing on HBO while all the low income kids without cable are left without a Big Bird. All in all it’s not a bad idea now that Sesame Workshop no longer has to rely on their product sales for an incoming source of revenue.
Children’s programming was an afterthought when TV & TV stations were on the rise & continued to be counter programming to where the market became diluted with these cartoon blocks, most notably the Saturday morning cartoon block. Seemed like every channel in the 90’s had to have one as they were competing with this new contender called ‘Cartoon Network’. Channels like ‘TBS’ & ‘PAX TV’ (Remember that old white bread channel?) couldn’t compete, because kids were much too wise to waste time on a channel runned by angry old farts who’s idea of edgy kids programming is ‘Davey & Goliath’.
I’ve talked to death about Kids WB & Fox Kids, but do any of you remember Fox Box?
Fox Box was probably the best, if not the greatest programming block for testosterone filled kids wanting more edgier programming. That’s where you got the 2003 ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’ series which wasn’t that bad & a ton of dubbed anime which no other channel (not even Cartoon Network) provided. Kids WB only had ‘Pokemon’ & ‘YuGiOh’ for their anime block, ABC Kids (or formerly known as ‘One Saturday Morning’) didn’t bother with that ‘Japanese stuff,’ Fox Box was the one to fill that niche audience of anime fans. Though they were badly dubbed & heavily edited, everyone my age thought it was this or nothing & we would rather sit through crappy dubs than not have anything at all & WE LIKED IT. They aired most of the Shonen Jump animes like ‘One Piece, Shaman King & Ultimate Muscle’ as well as anime based off of Nintendo games, two of the leading examples being ‘Kirby: Right Back at Ya’ & probably the greatest of the two, ‘F-Zero: GP Legend’ which also had an awesome Gameboy Advance game. We were coming out of the shlock that was ‘The Super Mario Bros Super Show’ & “EXCUUUUUZE ME PRINCES!” Legend of Zelda, so it was refreshing to see series based off games that rarely had a story. But then we also got that crappy ’Sonic X’ which I hated. (& there goes my Anime Tumblr audience). They even dubbed & released ‘Ultraman Tiga’, though it’s considered one of the worst dubbed shows in 4Kids’ list, in my opinion it was so bad it was deliciously great. The people in charge didn’t give a damn, they pretty much went balls out nuts with the script translation, almost like that ‘Kung Pow’ movie, but funnier. Also, it takes a lot of balls to air something as carnage filled as ’Ultraman’ on a kid’s block on US television in 2003, the same time when the FCC ran around like the Gestapo after Janet Jackson‘s ugly nipples. Then they made a name change/ brand change & Fox Box became ‘4KIDS.TV’ & what made that channel edgy was gone. All the cool animes were gone & what rose was crap targeted to grade schoolers, 4Kids.tv was shit. It didn’t end there, once KidsWB ended after WB changed to the CW, 4Kids took over that airtime & became ‘4Kids: TOONZAI’ with one of theeeeeeeeeee most stereotypical mascots ever. A cheap anime character, looks like something a weaboo from Minnesota drew on his tablet. Toonzai was nothing but reruns of cartoons that aired on WB or on some other cable channel, but one anime I will say was solid & original was ‘Tai Chi Chasers’. At that point I was at the age when people would say “You shouldn’t be watching cartoons, Jebus.” My response was always “Fuck you, growing up is overrated!” Tai Chi Chasers was an alright anime that never got it’s due & deserves to be aired again. I would kill to see a toy line based off the show.
I mentioned ABC Kids, originally concieved as ‘One Saturday Morning’, which before that began as ‘Disney Afternoons’ & so on. Disney Afternoon was an afternoon block where Disney centered shows were syndicated in your local TV station. That’s where ‘Gargoyles, Duck Tits, I mean Duck Tales, the animated series of ‘101 Dalmations & The Lion King’ aired, it was awesome! Then sometime in the late 90’s it spun off ‘One Saturday Morning’ which aired on (as you guessed) Saturday mornings. Then that spun into something called ‘1 Too’ (One of the most stupidest names for a kid’s block ever.) where it aired weekday mornings & it was all reruns of whatever aired on One Saturday Morning or Disney Channel. ‘The Weekenders’ is probably one of theee most subversive kids cartoons of that early 2000’s era, then you had the ‘Tarzan’ cartoon that was based off the animated movie from 2000. Very pulp inspired & action packed, I highly recommend it if you loved the movie or the original pulp novels, unless you aren’t a fan of that Phil Collins song which plays at the beginning of every single episode. Then you had ‘Buzz Lightyear of Star Command’ which played like a serial & played back to back with Tarzan. This wasn’t some half assed transition to TV, these were awesome shows that had a lot of time & effort put into them. Then ‘1 Too’ didn’t last long & neither did One Saturday Morning & that’s when ABC decided to make another brand change & called it ‘ABC Kids’ which mostly aired stuff that originally aired on ‘Disney Channel’, thus bringing us back to the topic of Trickle Down TV. ABC Kids always aired the same two or three seasons of shows that (at the time) aired longer on Disney Channel, thus offering no original content to it’s low income viewers. Every month would be the same two seasons, even though the show had more than two seasons, but for some reason ABC Kids would only air the two. Though at the time I didn’t have cable, it was an alright hookup to whatever shows aired, but after a while it became trite & repetative. Then, just like every kids programming block on every network channel, they died off & later came a sinister force worse than a booty hole.
Whether we like it or not, this new block of educational programming produced by ‘Litton Entertainment’ is considered counter programming. Litton’s Weekend Adventure, One Magnificent Morning, etc. They’re providing a block of programming to a niche market of these whole grains eating, trail mix out of the pocket mountain hiking motherfuckers!!!! I’m sorry everyone, my grudge against Litton is still hot, I’m never going to forgive them. Fuck Litton, bring cartoons back! I hate them.
American kids weren’t the only ones to have Counter programming, here in LA we have a fair Asian population which is the reason why ‘LA 18 (KSCI)’ exists.
KSCI was originally the ‘International Channel’ which aired not only Asian programming, but Israeli programming, Russian Programming, international programming which was pretty innovative & genius. Then it just became strictly Asian Programming & now it’s barely Asian programming, it’s a mix between as little Asian programming & a shitload of Paid Programming that don‘t involve Asians. It’s 16 hours of Paid Programming while all their entertainment is squeezed into the channel like sardines, all split into the culture they appeal. Every night is Korean night in that channel, same goes to ‘KXLA’ which is a local hookup to the Korean channel ‘KBS World’.
I’ve seen a lot of weird shit in KSCI from Japanese horror anthology shows & weird movies where naked guys chase limousines, I believe I’m the only one here who remembers every Friday morning they aired a block titled ‘Tokyo Kids Club’. If I’m not the only one, email me, just to get confirmation that I wasn’t the last man on earth on this one. So Tokyo Kids Club was an hour (or hour & 30 minute) block devoted to FCI’s kids programming. This was my first exposure to probably one of thee most ‘WTF am I watching’ animated shows ever. ‘Chibi-Muriko Chan’.
It wasn’t all sadness & shit pie, the FCI Morning News still continues to air to this day. Though it’s only 30 Minutes of real Japanese news from the source, the rest of the 1hr show is split with a segment of American news that’s been totally ripped from ‘ABC News’ (Real classy guys!). Just like Tokyo Kids Club, I understand none of the news being told, but using my visual context clues I get a jist of whatever it is the anchors talk about. Japanese news gives a pretty different & interesting view of what goes on in there & what they consider scandals. While we’re here bitching & dropping our jaws about some celebrity sex tape, what makes jaws drop in Japan are corporate scandals. Entertainment news is what you’d guess, news involving entertainment which is something American news programs don’t do anymore. Not only that but I get a ton of exposure of non- Jpop music which I love hunting down. Some celebrities there are pretty weird, I’m sure all of us have seen the comedic stylings of the guy dressed in drag as a ‘Ganguro’, IT’S FUNNEH!!!!
I spent a good chunk of my sick days in my tween years watching both Tokyo Kids Club & FCI Morning News because I was a weird kid, now I’m seeing more hookups to foreign news from other cultures. Though some air in channels that are made up of Paid Programming, I see a lot of French, Japanese, Korean & Israeli programs which also feed into the niche since most of the well known network channels provide both English & Spanish programming, despite there being a wide array of cultures here in the United States.
When it comes to Public Access shows, you either get something that is just so uninteresting that you avoid it at all costs (Shitty programming hosted by lawyers who pander to illegal immigrants by speaking passable Spanish.), then you get something so new & at times innovative that you watch, despite having not as high production values, but still honest in the attempt. With the internet being as advanced as it is now, these public access shows are given new life on YouTube or aired on the now defunct Blip.tv. There are two I want to talk about, one currently airs on Saturdays at midnight, the other ended sooner before it could get worse.
I’ll start with the one I find to be alright, ‘The Red Booth Show’. If you live in California & stay past 12am & can reach channel 31 on your TV, then you can see it along with a ton of Israeli programming. The Red Booth Show is a talk show starring some rockabilly girl in vintage clothes (Now you know the reason why I watch it.) & the first few episodes got me hooked. The episode I first caught had this guest promoting a book in which he talked about his days in the 60’s & 70’s as a biker. The second episode couldn’t of been any better, the host brought on a man who publishes Pulp novel reprints & also talked about an Awards ceremony for up & coming science fiction writers. Then in the later episodes she decided to bring in more (Not to offend the guests) non-interesting guests, mainly D-list actors, comedians & musicians, but it sometimes manages to catch my interest. Maybe it’s how I perceived the show at first, but I thought the talk show was mainly going to focus on the subculture that is Rockabilly & Vintage fashion. One episode I thought was both odd & amazing to watch was when ‘Angelyne’ was on as a guest, she made it clear to the host (Kimberly Q, that’s the host’s name. She’s gorgeous!) & the cameramen to not show her face on camera. Either it was one of those “My face is copyrighted!” deals that so many eccentric models have or they were lying to make it look like Angelyne was actually their guest, only to hide the fact that it was an Angelyne impersonator. The show runs on a pretty small budget, but manages to make a decent talk show that is worth the watch. I usually have it on in the background when I‘m doing something, it‘s not that horrible of a show.
Then we move to another public access show that could have been good, but has disintegrated & disappeared from the airwaves. ‘Ramen Revolution’ is what happens when you let early high school weebs make a thirty minute show in which they were supposed to talk straight up anime. Cartoon Network was airing anime, but there was no TV show in which they were talking about. I cannot find any information of the show or the people behind it, but I did find promos for the show which (in my opinion) oversell what was given.
Religious Programming, yes it’s counter programming, but when almost every channel (Cable or Network) now has some religious televangelist or live church sermon on their schedule, is it counter programming? Not anymore, but there was a channel from my childhood which always sticks in my brain whenever someone mentions religious programming. TBN, The Bitchass Network! Okay you got me, it actually means ‘Trinity Broadcasting Network & it’s full of televangelists, most of them asking for money. A 24 hour channel that was dedicated to religion & televangelists, as a kid it was always a hoot to watch it from time to time. Just like finding hilarious clips of ‘Fox News’ being stupid, TBN provided hours, if not days full of hilarity, mostly coming from this one woman with the biggest white hair ever & a southern accent who forced the viewer to send money or else we would suffer in the hellish depths of hell. It doesn’t stop there, they would air adverts for some Christian amusement park, trips to Jerusalem, ads for spiritual holy water/ oil & they would provide Saturday morning cartoons for the kiddies. If you‘re a fan of ‘Everything is Terrible,’ you may have seen clips of a show featuring a dude inside a computer costume named ‘Colby.’ That was TBN, not only that but they aired ’Bibleman’, one of thee most awkward & stupid ideas for a superhero ever, it makes Rob Liefeld’s ’Youngblood’ look like an Eisener Award winner. I remember once my older sister was channel surfing & she stopped at that one channel to show Ronald Mc.Donald on TBN talking about the ‘Ronald House Charities’ & made the whole room erupt in laughter (My neighbors were there too) when I yelled out “Hey look, it’s Ronald Mc.Donald. Ahhh Ahhh (Female Scream) EEEEHHH!!!!” I wish I could still do my girl scream, but just like every man my nutsack dropped & my voice became low. Not Brad Jones low, but low enough to not scream like a girl anymore. I’d kill for Brad Jones’ voice.
Back to the preachers, I always got my time’s worth when preachers start yelling & doing their Avatar: The Last Airbender ‘air-bending’ or their imaginary Kamehameha‘s at people. They say they’re pushing the devil out of the audience, what makes them sure the devil was in them in the first place? Lies Lies Liess filtheh lies!!! I also enjoy watching their ‘Exrocisms’, it’s pretty funny, convulsions & shit. TBN still airs today as a cable channel, & since Dish Network is full of these redneck dicks, it’s part my package along with a shit ton of useless channels, but you don’t have to pay to see the hilarity that are the televangelists, almost every absurd clip of these people is on the internet.
Now, I’m not putting down people who record mass for those who are impaired (of any kind) & can’t walk or drive to a mass. I know there are a few stations that record & air a real religious mass, most notably here in LA we have KDOC Ch.56 that airs a catholic mass on Sundays at 9am. I’m putting down these idiots who earn millions by swindling people who are at the edge of sanity because life curb stomped them & these millionaire assholes are getting millions of dollars by taking advantage of the disadvantaged. I could say that these people deserved to be swindled because they‘re too stupid to notice that it‘s all a scam, but I‘m not a monster. Fuckers like ‘Creflo Dollar’ (Yeah, that’s his last name) & Peter Popof & all those snake oil salesmen need to get face fucked by a bat wrapped in barb wire! All in all it’s 2015 & we still have these people preying on the weak.
Univision & Telemundo, before they were bought off by American networks, they were both counter programming to the English speaking channels at the time. Back in the day you had to scan far & wide to get Spanish programming, sometimes it would only be for a few hours a day as opposed to the 24hr schedule. But those were the days before I was born, let’s talk about 90’s Telemundo! I have some good memories about Telemundo, the only thing I watched on that channel were the movies because Telemundo was the great hookup to very popular movies as well as the obscure. This is also the spot where you got to see a lot of Hong Kong action flicks which was always a plus plus for me. I’m not talking about the popular ones like the wave of Late 90’s Jackie Chan movies, I’m talking about ‘The Enforcer (A.K.A: My Father the Hero)’ the Jet Li father/Son action flick, you also got movies like Iron Monkey, Wing Chun, a whole buttload of kung fu flicks you would never see on NBC or on FOX, not even on ABC. I even saw that Taiwanese live action ’DragonBall: The Magic Begins’ movie from the 80’s, I was tricked into seeing that film thinking it was going to be one of the many Dragon Ball animated movies. I’ll say it was better than ‘DragonBall: Evolution‘ & that‘s saying a lot. There was a short time when Telemundo aired the Dragonball Z anime with all the violence intact & it’s one of thee most funniest things ever. The Spanish dub practically treats their audience like fucking idiots since every time there would be at a location shot with a sign, some narrator reads aloud what the sign says. You’d have a shot of a school & out of nowhere you would hear someone say ‘Escuela’ like “Oh my dog god! Satan, is that you?” They also aired ‘Jackie Chan Adventures’ for some time too, that too was a highly underrated cartoon from the 2000’s.
Then we move on to Univision, a channel my parents highly adore still to this day. The reason why Univision, as well as Telemundo, are still on the air is because of their airings of new Soap Operas that originally aired in Mexico, as well as other South American countries. Providing original content to their audience, they still sustain a viewership without the need to subject half of their schedule to paid programs. Univision, at one time, aired Hollywood movies dubbed in Spanish, then later gave that up since a new sister channel would follow suit called ‘Telefutura’ in 2002 which aired both the biggest A-list Hollywood movies & the best low budget flicks. I remember being exposed to a lot of the ‘Cannon Films’ library from that channel since they loved to play the hell out of the ‘American Ninja’ movies, as well as the Chuck Norris ‘RA RA AMERICA!!’ flicks. That channel was so badass, the night the channel launched was thenight ‘Back to the Future’ premiered for the first time in Spanish. Now they’re known as ‘Uni-Mas’ & they air nothing but generic mainstream movies from a few years ago, retarded Asylum, Giant vagina snake alligator movies & straight to DVD war movies you could find at a Redbox kiosk. There may be an audience for those films, but I miss the Canon films, Hong Kong action/ exploitation films of the time.
As I was going to say, before I went off on a tanget, Univision provided a ton of National news, Mexican exploitation flicks & even a hookup to the vastly boring world of Soccer. They didn’t really interest me at the time, but my parents will tell you that Univision was a game changer & now they’re nothing but a cheap station built to be as annoying & pompous to it’s audience as it could be, just like everything else today. Oh & don’t get me started with their channel called ‘Fusion’, it’s goddamn bullcrap that panders to the left wing is what it is.
I’ll be short on this one here, if you have a cable channel that provides this service or a hookup to a PBS that does this, you’ll know that every midnight your local PBS has a block devoted to the classic arts. Aptly named ‘Classic Arts Showcase’, they provide a compilation of music, art & clips from Shakespearean performances featuring Opera scores, musical numbers & images of fine art to satisfy art coinsures. Think of it as MTV for Mozart & Palliacci fans. I don’t watch that channel all the time, but in a time when I from time to time become an insomniac, the Classic Arts Showcase is always there to put me to sleep or relax me. Not in the way of it boring me to sleep, but soothing sounds help me when I’m on edge of something, which is also the reason why I sometimes have sleepless nights. Overall, if you’re a Arts person (like me) or just don’t know what to do when you’re sleep deprived (like me), then the Classic Arts Showcase is for you.
I think that wraps it up here, either I brought back some brilliant memories for you, or I just wasted valuable time out of your life. I’ll see you all next time! I might either get back to talking current affairs or I might do another entry on something from my childhood while I orgasm nostalgia.
This has been ‘Blogababble’ & a word of advice……………………………….................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................That’s David Bowie.