Monday, January 26, 2009

"At Last" It's Over

After a week of coverage of the Obama inauguration, I have reached a few conclusions. One is that the fact that this year's inauguration is ranked second behind the first Reagan inauguration probably says more for the proliferation of on-line alternatives to viewing Obama's inauguration than it does for Reagan's popularity at that time. Another is that I wasn't crazy when I thought something was out of sync with the piano. Turns out the classical combo we heard on TV was a recording, made to cover the fact that A: Priceless string instruments can't be miked in a 20 mph -10 degree wind chill, and B: Priceless string instruments turn into marzipan in a -10 degree wind chill. Still, the musicians put on their best game faces.

"Come on, Izzy. Swing it."

And, after a week of breathless coverage from Entertainment Tonight, Insider, Inside Hollywood, Hollywood Insider, Inside the Insider Inside Hollywood, etc... If I never hear the first two notes of Beyonce's rendering of "At Last" for the rest of my life, I'll be grateful.

Insider averaged an "At Last" once every 5.7 minutes, according to the annoyance level indicator in master control of WLIO, putting it in the "yellow" category. That figure is slightly misleading, as it doesn't account for the clustering of "At Last" occurrences in certain segments of the show. Teasers, those little pieces of the show that start with the words, "Coming up..." comprised the highest number of "At Last" incidents with a weighted average of 2 per tease. A teaser can run at an on-air duration of up to 93 seconds, and since the entire pre-intro portion of the show is a teaser, plus one for the lead-in before each of the 5 commercial breaks, a second method of measuring repetitive sound clips is utilized for overall annoyance factoring. Thus "At Last" scored a whopping 8.6 on the Ronco Annoyance Ratings System. (The Ronco Scale runs from 1 to 10, with a 9 being ranked as "pissed off," and a 10 being the point where the average viewer throws the remote at the TV and actually resorts to speaking with her spouse.) To put that into perspective, Geico commercials typically score a 6.7, CGI blobs of talking mucus rank a 5.4, "Viva Viagra" clocks in at 7.3, and Rosie O'Donnell doing anything rings the bell at 9.1.

(Surprisingly, the ShamWow guy only comes in at 4.8, although I'm still trying to figure out why I'm hearing room echo if he's wearing a head-mounted mike.)

Entertainment Tonight stayed in the green, barely, with an "At Last" average of once every 10.3 minutes, and a Ronco of 7.8, putting it squarely in the "WTF is up with this?" category.

Congress has formed a subcommittee to look into this practice. It appears, as the law is today, a bona fide news program can use a short clip of a copyrighted song for the purpose of setting a context for the news story. For example: when Bo Diddly died, any news program could use a clip of a Bo Diddly song without paying ASCAP or BMI as long as it was used in conjunction with the news story.

In my opinion, the problem here isn't in the length of an audio clip a bona fide news program can use. It's the fact that Entertainment Tonight is considered a bona fide news program that worries me.