Why you should care about The Circle getting axed…

I have never been the target audience for Channel TEN’s morning chat show “The Circle” – Early morning chat shows are targeted to a defined female skewed “at-home-with-the-kids” market. It’s a market that has proven quite successful for Seven’s “The Morning Show” and Nine’s “Mornings” – mostly presenting a mix of celebrity gossip, lifestyle and infotainment. However, over the last few years I’ve grown to have a lot of respect for “The Circle”.

So why should I, a 24 year old young man give a flying toss about the admittedly low rating “The Circle” disappearing from our TV screens? The truth is, when I was in the final years of university and unemployed for about a year thereafter I managed to catch a bit of the show. It became somewhat of a running gag between my friends and I that I was basically a middle aged woman or that I would be late to lectures because I was too busy watching “The Circle”. At first I put it down to a bit of a schoolboy crush from Yumi Styne’s Channel V days, but after a while I realised something about the program:

They actually cared about things.

They discussed social, cultural and community issues in a really respectful, honest and carefree way that we haven’t seen on our televisions in a long time. They treated the audience with respect, intelligence and performed some powerful and impactful interviews with people from a broad cross section of the community.

Yes – they did have to pay the bills with the usual morning show fare (steak knives, vacuum cleaners, celebrity gossip and typical lifestyle fare) and weren’t without their controversy but the program marked an important point of difference from the other commercial networks.

Why it matters…

When the news came out of the axing a friend sent me a text message with a simple statement:

“Australian TV is in crisis JB!!!”

We do have a crisis when one of our major commercial networks decides that original, intelligent Australian content featuring Australian stories and perspectives is better replaced by cheap, imported American gossip programming. In losing this diversity, we lose a lot of important Australian stories.

What frustrates me the most is that we are losing a program that was willing to discuss social and community issues. A program that was willing to bring to talk about issues frankly, without needing to resort to sensationalism as we often see on Seven and Nine.

I get that Channel TEN needs to make money. It is a commercial operation, designed to deliver profit to its shareholders through selling eyeballs to advertisers, but why does Australian television struggle so hard to make money out of intelligent content?

The Circle created a unique opportunity to reframe the cheesy, gossip based morning television Seven and Nine have championed and to provide a platform for more important Australian stories. Not many of you watched it and I anticipate some criticism for defending it, but at least “The Circle” tried to mean something – and that’s more than most Australian television can say for itself at the moment. Congratulations to The Circle for making something that valued its audience, even if the audience didn’t seem to value it.

More:

TV Tonight: AXED: The Circle

Mamamia: “RIP The Circle” writes Em Rusciano

The Circle challenges Federal MP Bob Katter

– Jonathan Brown

Jonathan is the Creative Director of We Matter Media. You can follow him @JB_AU

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