Just what is the point of those eye-in the-sky traffic reports on the evening TV news?

Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon

Motoring expert

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Some guy or gal flies over a snaking line of home-bound traffic pointing out the bleeding obvious – that it’s chokkers down there – or, if they’re lucky, an accident attended by emergency vehicles with lots of flashing lights.

The pictures look great, but what do they tell? Very little detail with which to calculate an alternative route, it seems. And much of what is broadcast relates to other road arteries not in the chopper’s view; it’s been relayed from ground to air for the purpose of the report – so why not announce it from the studio without the needless sound effects and chopper-cockpit props?

These reports can’t be any help to commuters already on the road, because they can’t see television. And home viewers are unlikely to need the information. Does the wife or husband phone from home and advise, “Dear, you’d better get off the M1 at Marshall Road because it’s chokkers for the next 10 kilometres”?

So what is the point? Well, it’s pictures and as we know TV news isn’t news without pictures, but pictures without news can be TV news. What the eye-in-the-sky traffic reports are really, are excuses for eye-catching airborne ads for new cars or other products.

Traffic news belongs on radio or mobile social media, where it can be communicated to those who need it and in much more detail, more often.