Thursday, January 11, 2007

TV Guide Magazine no longer on paper. Who cares?

In late October 2006, TV Guide announced that the Canadian edition of the print magazine would be discontinued. Readers of the magazine are now expected to fire it up on their computers, and view the free online version on the Internet. Reuters quotes Jamie Hubbard, editor of Canada's TV Guide: "The way the universe -- and let's be honest, a younger universe -- is getting their information -- has changed dramatically in the last five years, never mind 30 years ago."

The move was no doubt necessary for economic survival. Reuters points out that, after 50 years of publication, circulation had dropped in four years from 430,000 to 243,000.

But, as Michael Adams, curator at Toronto's MZTV Museum of Television, told Reuters: "Coffee tables will miss it. The generation that still picks up the TV Guide was the generation that grew up with rabbit-ear antennas".

Discussions in blogs echo this concern about marginalization of users. In "" C. Thomas commented "I'm very disappointed ... My mother doesn't even know how to use a computer. I on the other hand only use the one at work or library." And another person anonymously posted "My grandmother is confused to hell right now wondering how she is going to find out what is on TV this week. I didn't even know this was true until I went to 3 stores trying to get her a TV Guide ... Online is fine for this generation, but what about all the confused elderly without computers?" And Anne commented "...for many older and elderly people (who in fact make up approximately 20 percent of Canada's viewing public) this comes as a huge detriment to their TV viewing pleasure ... Kudos to your brainless ideas". For more commentary on this blog, click

Frankly, I never bought TV Guide, even years ago when I was still hooked up to broadcast TV. To me, that little magazine with some celebrity on the cover was just one more superficial bit of "here today, gone tomorrow" parked in the impulse buy zone at the checkouts. I went looking for one of them to scan and illustrate this posting, but I'm too late. Now it is an artifact in the Canadian Museum of Television. Nonetheless, it disturbs me that this tool, which facilitated the navigation of the increasingly complex choices viewers need to make to use their TV watching time, is now restricted to people comfortable with computers, and who have one close to their TV.

What do you think? Please let us know by clicking on the blue word "comments" on the lower right of this article. In my links section on the right, there is a section which gives you a link to the TV Guide online site, the Reuters article, and the blog quoted above.