The Age of infotainment: Scott Goodings
The rise of home video technology was behind the ratings success of a new kind of program, Australia's Funniest Home Video Show, launched on Nine in 1990. The show combined viewer's video clips with sound effects and comedy voiceovers. However it was not without predecessors, such as Candid Camera.
These technologies have also reduced the cost of professional news gathering and led to increased sourcing of footage from the public, most famously in the Rodney King case in Los Angeles.
The 1990s were the start of the low-cost 'reality TV' phenomenon that dissolved the boundaries between games show and documentaries. Reality TV productions involve using 'ordinary people', and in doing so the medium of television comes to play a direct role in contestants' lives.
Cheap and portable cameras were also behind the success of the ABC's 1997 Race Around the World. The program followed a group of young filmmakers who were funded to travel the world and record 10 four-minute documentaries using camcorders. Race Around the World introduced the viewing public to John Safran, who fanmously demonstrated his technoques for breaking into Disneyland and streaking through the streets of Jerusalem.
SBS was also experimenting with production technologies and drama and comedy formats in its 1999 program Going Home. The show was based on the interactions of evening commuters on Sydney's rail network, and their commentaries on the events of their day.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Race Around the World: Homepage. ABC Online. 1998. Accessed 24 February 2005: www.abc.net.au/race98/
Flew, Terry. Television and Pay TV'. The Media & Communications in Australia. Eds Stuart Cunningham & Graeme Turner. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. 2002, pp. 173-187