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Max Renn is the president of CIVIC-TV, a Toronto UHF television station specializing in sensationalistic programming. Displeased with his station's current lineup (which mostly consists of softcore pornography and gratuitous violence), Max looks for something that will break through to a new audience. One morning, he is summoned to the clandestine office of Harlan, who operates CIVIC-TV's unauthorized satellite dish which can intercept broadcasts from as far away as Asia. Harlan shows Renn ''Videodrome'', a plotless television show apparently being broadcast out of Malaysia which depicts the brutal torture and eventual murder of anonymous victims in a reddish-orange chamber. Believing this to be the future of television, Max orders Harlan to begin unlicensed use of the show. Max experiences a hallucination, the first of many. Appearing on a talk show, he defends his station's programming choices to Nicki Brand, a Psychiatry and radio host, and professor Brian O'Blivion, a pop-culture analyst and philosopher who will only appear on television if his image is broadcast into the studio, onto a television, from a remote location. O'Blivion delivers a speech prophesying a future in which television supplants real life.

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