It has become increasingly important in the recent multi-channel television environment for television stations to create an attractive and distinct on-air appearance, through the various elements that form the 'television presentation' umbrella. These include idents, the short clips that are often shown before a program on many stations. They often consist of an animated form of the station's logo, and many have a continuity announcer who speaks over the clip with information about programs on the station. Some stations, such as BBC One in the UK have used a live action ident since 1997. This approach however is less common. Other elements include Digital On-screen Graphics (DOGs) and End Credit Promotions (ECPs). Computerised graphics have been popular since BBC Two introduced the world's first computer-generated television identification in the summer of 1979. Less than three months later, American broadcaster NBC introduced their first computerised graphics.
The presentation of a television station can have a large bearing on its success. The success of Channel 4's launch in the UK in 1982 was largely attributed to the distinctive 'blocks logo', created by design house Lambie-Nairn. The ident of the channel was one of the first to be rendered in 3D, realised by mathematics and computer graphics legend John Vince, and showed a '4' comprising blocks exploding and coming together again. It was very popular with viewers, and whilst previously television presentation was largely transparent to viewers, the launch of Channel 4 almost made it a talking point. As of , the channel still uses the same logo, albeit in a slightly different form.
There have been several examples of television presentation choices less popular with viewers. In 2002, the new controller of BBC One, Lorraine Heggessey, deemed the package which had been in place since 1997 too "slow and distant". The old package consisted of a hot air balloon with an image of the earth printed on it flying over various landmarks across the UK. The package was unique and certainly popular with viewers. Again, it was a rare example of ordinary people recognising and identifying with a channel's on-air look. Heggessey instead wanted to introduce a set of idents showing people of various cultural backgrounds dancing in different ways.
The style was ridiculed by many, including the BBC's own animated satire Monkey Dust, whose spoofs of the idents included two men engaging in anal sex, and Channel 4's digital channel E4, who spoofed it in a set of their own idents and it also was identified by the public for the wrong reasons.
In the United States, cable channel MTV changes its presentation every few months. However, since its inception, the logo (the letter "M" with "tv" on the lower right side) has always remained the same.
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