Strange Orwellian Telescreens Debut At UK Supermarkets

Propaganda May 21 2003

By David Meekins

In the last couple of weeks, my local Tesco store has installed tens of flat TV screens. Some are huge, at least 24 inches. Some are small 14" to 15". The screens show a combination of adverts featured on terrestrial TV and Tesco's own adverts. They also show "did you know facts" for kids, images of kids watching the screens and horoscopes for others. The horoscopes are for the website. Some of the adverts shown are for
Matrix 2, 28 Days Later, and Madonna videos. The Madonna video is Madonna standing in front of a whole bunch of flags, apart from the stars and stripes which is not obscured.

The only people that I noticed paying much attention to the screens were children. The children watching were so interested in the screens, that they would turn their heads to continue watching the screens as their parents turn a corner. I heard one woman say to her husband, "ohh look, it's that funny advert". But she was the only one I heard comment.

Above the screens is CCTV that films your face as you watch the screen. Images that regularly flash up include Tesco Value TV (for the poor), which consists of red white and blue stripes. Juxtaposed is Tesco Finest TV for the richer, which shows an English butler opening a silver dish. Pop video adverts play in between these images. Notice the pictures of a Pound symbol being severed with scissors.
I was approached by a smiling young lady in a smart suit:

"Where are you from?" she asked.

"I'm taking a picture of the stars and stripes flying on the screens. Why do you ask?," I smiled politely.

"Oh, it's just, we are from the company who installed these screens. We've come to check that all the screens are working properly and we noticed that you were the only one watching them. Then we saw you taking pictures," she smiled.

"Plently of other people are watching them. They just don't realise it." I replied, smiling back.
"The..." her smile dipped, and she looked at the floor. Her smile promptly reappeared when I said...

"I'm trying to get a picture without people in it, because they don't need that. Other than that, I'm just watching the television, you know?," still smiling.

"Yeah. You'll probably have to come back at three AM in the morning to do that," she suggested.

"I guess you're right," I said.

She half smiled and walked away, looking downwards (not at the screens). I continued with another few photos, then I left. Then, I photographed the outside of the building, returned home and wrote this.

I hope she will think about what she does for her chosen job, but I doubt she will.