Friday, September 22, 2006

Ten Reasons Why You Should Not Buy The 'New' TV Guide

They Changed More Than Just the Size of the Magazine

By Thomas J McCabe
The layout of the magazine is confusing. The size does not seem appropriate. The magazine is way over- priced.

TV Guide magazine is an American cultural icon. For decades, people everywhere have been consulting the trusted, and reliable digest- size publication for information about which television programs and movies are airing at any given time. Accurate listings of all local and cable channels and the programs they feature, have been a hallmark of TV Guide for years. While the magazine always contained advertisements, it was always a comfortable, if not pleasurable magazine to read.

Starting in October 2005, however, TV Guide devolved into a slick and brash glossy, tabloid magazine. At approximately ninety- six pages, it is disconcertingly different from its former self. Perhaps the only bright spot is that they still feature the TV Guide crossword puzzle. Presented here, are Ten Reasons Not To Buy The 'New' TV Guide.

1) The 'new' TV Guide is confusing. For a magazine devoted to listing television programs, you'd never know it. In the August 28, 2006 issue, television listings do not begin until page 58 (out of 96 pages). In the upper left- hand corner of the listings grid, Eastern and Central time zones are listed, which I think does nothing but confuse many people, who may not know which time zone they live in.

2) They assume that everyone has cable TV. While almost every cable TV network is represented with full, detailed listings of programs and movies, local, or 'regular' TV channels are squeezed into a little box of space, with only bare- bones listings provided. Perhaps they forget that not everybody has cable TV, that some people actually do still watch network television.

3)They assume that everyone has a computer. At the bottom of many pages, printed in red, are prompts to readers, to go to for 24- hour local listings and channel numbers.

4) There are too many advertisements. Of course, magazines usually need to sell advertising to stay in business, that is a given. But, there needs to be a balance between advertising, editorial content and features. Such a balance does not exist with the 'new' TV Guide.

5) 'Pop-Out Cards' Four of those obtrusive, detachable subscription renewal and startup cards that are attached to the spine of the magazine, and predetermine which pages the magazine will fall open to, are contained within the 'new' TV Guide. Additionally, another two loose cards are located between the pages.

6) The price. The price listed on the cover of the 'new' TV Guide is $2.99. When I saw the listed price, my eyes must have been bulging. I was so shocked to see that the price of the 'new' TV Guide was $2.99, that I had to ask the store clerk if that was the correct price. Honestly, I could not, and still don't, believe the amount of money being charged for an issue of a magazine that is a shadow of its former self.

7) No local listings. While local listings for prime time network, or non- cable television shows are listed by network only i.e. CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX, etc., no listings are provided for 'off- time' periods, like afternoons and early evenings. The old- style TV Guide always had the appropriate channel numbers for each geographical location. Once again, to access such information, one must go to their website.

8) Focuses on same, banal shows. An inordinate amount of time and space is devoted to promoting, featuring and gushing over a half dozen or so over- rated, mindless and insipid television programs. Of course, much mention is made of the sponsoring network in each and every blurb.

9) It is boring. With the old- style TV Guide, there were always interesting articles to read. Many times, they would be about older television programs and the stars of such shows. Articles written from creative 'angles' and trivia- type features were also common. No more. Most of the articles read like promotional guides.

10) The size. The old, familiar, digest- size publication that generations of Americans have come to love and eagerly look forward to reading, is but a memory. The size of the 'new' TV Guide, at 8 inches by 10 1/2 inches, does not seem to fit the format. Because of the afore- mentioned subscription cards and the glossy paper, the magazine seems unwieldy.

Now, the educated reader knows of Ten reasons not to buy the 'new' TV Guide.

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