you sent (and are still sending) through on the state of the TV industry. We promised to post them at the Edinburgh TV festival this weekend, and we will..." />

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Confessions of a TV producer

Peter Barron | 19:26 UK time, Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Thanks for the huge number of comments you sent (and are still sending) through on the state of the TV industry.

The confessional boxWe promised to post them at the Edinburgh TV festival this weekend so that those who make TV can absorb them. We've hired an old confessional box (pictured) which will sit in the foyer of the conference centre - we'll adorn the walls with your thoughts, and invite those who work in the industry to leave theirs too.


  • 1.
  • At 08:04 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • M wrote:

Peter, you are doing a great job in using blogs in this way.

We need the top people to spend more time actually communicating changes, decisions and choices. The BBC is good at talking about the problems, which to a certain extent is now eloquently covered here by public input.

Reviews often mean that the decisions should have been taken earlier. Please provide some evidence that the top people are actually making decisions and managing the BBC - not just paraphrasing public input but actually communicating how they are solving the problems!

So in the last month at the BBC did anyone make a significant decision/change? Why not take the opportunity at the conference to actually suggest ways of solving these problems? Why isn´t the conference more public?

  • 2.
  • At 12:41 AM on 23 Aug 2007,
  • miika wrote:

I think you need more than a box - try Canterbury Cathedral :P

(I didn't post the following thoughts to the other thread because they refer to the BBC directly, whereas the other thread was (I think) intended more for comments addressed to the industry as a whole.)

Let's be honest, the chances of anyone at the conference reading past the first half a dozen "BBC sucks" posts are about as good as my chances of being elected Pope next week.

But on the other hand, it *will* give a small percentage of people the feeling that they have a chance to say what's on their mind to the people they feel make all the decisions.

So from that perspective it does contribute to a sense of openness.

The question will be if the industry actually does something, to winnow through the posts (and whatever information they get from other sources) and isolate the things that are accurate, to resolve the issues.

The biggest real problem I can see is that the BBC is in the position of being able to avoid having to pander to one side or another from a commercial aspect - but people don't *want* non-commercially-generated content.

All the other outlets have remember who pays their salaries - commercial interests. So they have to resort to the usual tricks to keep the numbers up to bring in more advertisers - and that's why you end up with puerile mindless inane gormless crud like Big Brother.

The BBC is coercively funded, and as such *should* be able to break away from that cycle - unfortunately, you're just as much a victim of ratings as the commercial networks, because people will demand you show what they want to see, with their relative slant attached, because they as license payers "pay your wages".

Wonderful catch-22 you find yourselves in. Add in the government's desire to have you slant things the way they want, with the sword of damocles *it* can bring to bear oh so subtly, and you're pretty much damned if you do, damned if you don't.

You're getting to the stage where you're being too reactive and trying to bend over backwards to appease too many different groups with different agendas, all because you're being "punished" by the Government for not being entirely in their pockets as they would like.

If it was me, remembering the founding ideas behind the BBC, I'd say screw the lot of them, if you're going to be damned, be damned for having standards and doing the job right, even if it makes you unpopular.

There's an axiom about how many people you can please how often.

Yes, you made some huge cock-ups this year, and probably have done in the past. The self-flagellation and walking on eggshells is worse, guys. if people can't handle the "truth", they're in no condition to be watching TV to begin with.

Stand up, walk tall, remember why the BBC is/was one of the most respected media outlets in the world since nearly the very beginning *of* broadcasting - remember, if *no-one* is complaining about you, then you're *not* doing your jobs.

  • 3.
  • At 03:37 PM on 23 Aug 2007,
  • KL wrote:

Is the box intended to symbolise your catholic tastes, gain you absolution, or let you all play Father Ted?
Have fun, regardless, and may your mantra be Arts and Crafts not Ratings and Suits.

  • 4.
  • At 05:21 PM on 23 Aug 2007,
  • miika wrote:

Hey, no knocking Father Ted :P If there had been more Father Ted, we wouldn't need Big Brother!

There's an idea. Why not take all those Media Execs from the conference, stick them all in the BB House, then wire it up to internet-triggered electrical shock machines?

That way you get ratings, you please the widest possible audience - and maybe they'll get the clue too!

Heck, a set-up like that would give you more "click through's" than Google, you could make it an annual event and do away with the license fee :)

  • 5.
  • At 05:36 PM on 23 Aug 2007,
  • gregor aitken wrote:

Peter, do me a favour and could you put a huge banner in the middle of your confessional asking why no major media outlet is providing a balanced investigation into 911.

Not the BBC or ITN or The Guardian or The Independant or Private Eye or anyone else.

Yet the new media documentaries and debates are among the most watched on video sharing sites and the most commented on in discussions - check both google video and your own blog pages as examples.

If nothing else it would make for a nice debate about new media agendas and old media ones

Big banner, red letters on a white background would stand out i think.

If you could get a nice pic of it that would be great


"THIS IS WHAT WE DO" (written when that slogan was current)

We brought these islands through the war
Our word and deed both true
Now anything goes in media
This is what we do.

Today, old folk predominate
So we address the "new"
And dumb down every uttered word
This is what we do.

We've given Radio 4's approach
An in-depth benchmark review
Put music and din with dialogue
This is what we do.

To see the best of our TV
We just require that you
Pay extra cash for digital
This is what we do.

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