January 2nd, 2005

flock

Death of a Network

Once there was a network called ZDTV, started up by Ziff-Davis. It became TechTV.

TechTV had shows about technology, along with the stray show for gamers and some non-tech shows that nevertheless had geek appeal (reruns of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Thunderbirds, and anime). Probably the best show was The Screen Savers. It and Call for Help tended towards MS-centrism, but still was a good source of information, and the hosts were knowledgeable and forthright in their opinions.

In May, 2004, G4, a gaming channel, "merged" with TechTV. They fired 250 TechTV employees, and offered to let 80-100 continue to work, if they'd move from San Francisco to LA. Then in November, the merged network fired about 100 employees. Some remain only because they are bound by their contracts.

(One datum that might say something about G4 as an employer: this entry from Kevin Rose's blog, which mentions in passing "At G4 we don't get paid vacation, and are required to take a mandatory two-week hiatus without pay." Also check out Joey the Intern's blog for interesting tidbits such as the G4 holiday party where, to let those who imbibed to excess ride home safely, G4 provided cab vouchers—that turned out to be expired.)

Now, most of the TechTV shows are gone, as "G4TechTV" seeks to target "the gaming lifestyle." The Screen Savers remains in name only. Shockingly, for a network that targets gamers, a market that includes teens and children, a post takeover episode of TSS included a segment on how to distill your own vodka. Also, Dan Huard, who was there before and after the takeover, comments here about how the new management didn't want any more of those boring "geek" questions on TSS, so that now they manufactured questions and had G4 employees and family members thereof call to ask them.

I'm contacting my cable provider and letting them know that I have no interest whatsoever in G4TechTV, and I'm considering dropping digital cable service if they continue to carry it.
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    "In the Air Tonight," Phil Collins