I hate FOX. I try not to hate all their shows but I certainly hate how they do business. Let me clarify with an example. Last night I watched an episode of the freshmen series Damages on FX. Normally FX is treated differently from FOX, mainly because its title is missing a vowel, but also because it offers a different quality of programing. Instead of FOX’s in-your-face self promotion and seemingly endless talent show model, FX offers quality scripted drama. In fact, FX rivals HBO with its strong bullpen of shows (including: Rescue me, Nip/Tuck, The Shield and new shows like the Riches and the aforementioned Damages).

So as much credit as I want to give FX for not being like FOX, last night I was reminded that they are both part of the same soulless media group owned by Rupert Murdoch. And my reminder seems harmless enough (a promo during the show), but it turned out to be so much worse. Twenty minutes into the episode, the bottom right corner of the screen lit up with an ad for a new episode of Damages next week. Most experienced TV watchers are familiar with this type of promotion, but last night the ad was augmented by sound effects. An angry hissing noise and a metaliac woosh drowned out the sound of the show. So, the show I was watching distracted me so it could remind me to keep watching the same show later. I hate you FOX.

I know networks are nervous about their commercial advertising dollars when more and more consumers are adopting DVR’s and Tivo’s. I know that in-show advertisements work (because I was incapable of ignoring it). But the trend towards inserting more ‘subtle’ ads into shows has to be tempered with some awareness of the audience’s needs. And in this case, I need to be able to hear the show I’m watching. When the sound accidentally cuts out for a program (usually accompanied by the banner: “we’re experiencing audio difficulties) I am willing to forgive the network. However, I resent an intentional distraction that functions in the same way. Dammit FOX, it’s bad enough that I watch any of your shows, I don’t need any more reasons to hate you. Can’t you see my back is already broken?