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Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Broadcast assistant on line one"

The leader pages of today's papers are largely devoted to the curious business of the BBC and the competitions that were fixed. The Guardian argues that some mitigation might be found for programmes in the obscure reaches of the schedules, such as Liz Kershaw's 6 Music show, but not for the big viewer participation shows. Actually, I see it the other way. Why the hell would anyone bother to run phone-in competitions on a pre-recorded rock show and then compound the sin by having members of the production team "ring up" pretending to be winners? And what happened to the people who presumably picked up the phone and mysteriously couldn't get through? What's the point of all this? The programme doesn't rely on it. Why not just drop the competition? Obviously it was stopped when a new producer took over but before that happened there must have been quite a few people who had worked out what was going on and either bit their lips or shared the producers' contempt for the listening audience.

11 comments:

  1. I must admit out of all the incidents the Liz Kershaw one struck me as odd. I think it's partly a symptom of the need for "interactivity" to fill up programmes empty of ideas. I notice a rebate on our licence fee hasn't been mentioned in lieu of wasted phone calls.

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  2. I haven't seen it mentioned yet, but one of the main reasons for 'faking' callers, particularly on these smaller shows, is simply to avoid embarrassment. Because otherwise, when programmes and their egotistical presenters big up a competition with 'fabulous' prizes (usually a promo item), they will be exposed as having to admit that nobody phoned in, or is interested in their meagre offerings. Competitions are supposed to be some sort of incentive to keep listeners tuned in, so when producers realise nobody has bothered to phone in, or no-one can supply the correct answer to a feeble question, they would of course rather pretend they have a winner than admit there is no real interest in their stupid competition and by extension their programme.It happens in magazines and newspapers too, you know! All that is happening is the public is wising up to the cheap and tawdry nature of this end of the media business.

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  3. Mark Thompson says he'd rather have dead air than phone-ins. I couldn't agree more.

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  4. Maybe this will be a boon to the makers of "postcards or stuck down envelopes"

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  5. When I was on student radio, we became so convinced that nobody was listening to our "niche music" show that we took to offering prizes live on air for the first person to ring up - no questions, just give us a call (on the free internal phones would do!), and collect your free pizza tokens, cds or whatever. Not one caller, ever. I guess the difference is that we were doing it for our own amusement rather than being a fully funded public service.

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  6. As a multiple winner of "The Rock 'n Roll A level" I can vouch for the integrity of Mr Hepworth's sadly missed GLR programme.

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  7. Freddie Owen8:49 am

    The first thing that disturbed me was the fact that Liz Kershaw had a production TEAM. How many people does it take to play a few records ?

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  8. Having attended many BBC recordings as a member of the audience I'm surprised that the idea that the BBC treats it's audience with contempt is a revelation. Often we are herded and left to wait around with no communication. A live audience seems to be treated simply as props so why should phone in contributors expect any better. It doesn't have to be that way with a little more effort though. After any discomfort the show is always 1st class entertainment and the broadcast version is also to the high standards expected - which is why we continue to attend and why we watch and listen to the BBC. I'll leave my BBC Guest List rant for another time!

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  9. Harsh words, Freddie. A team is a producer, who's there to keep things on air, and a broadcast assistant, who does stuff like pick up guests from reception, log all the records played and give emails and texts to the presenter. That's on 6 Music. On Radio 2, you get an SM, which is a studio manager, on top. It's pretty lean, either way. Broadcast assistants are paid very badly indeed, and used to be expected to produce if the producer was on holiday or ill, despite not getting any extra money for this massively increased responsbility.

    I feel sorry for Liz being singled out in all this, and should probably say no more, even as an ex-6 Music presenter, but she isn't the only radio DJ ever to have done a pre-record that went out as if it were live - although fake callers is a bit risky.

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  10. Steve D10:30 am

    I think it's all to do with the 'You' movement. The BBC has been well and truly Gellered, i.e. American radio Guru Valerie Geller who has been paid a shed load of money to come and wave her magic wand over BBC radio output.
    Listen to any local radio, five live, radio 1, most all of them are after 'you' tell us what you think. It's a level of interactivity that has overtaken making decent programmes. popularity based on web hits, texts and emails. Just make some decent programmes, that's what you're paid for.

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  11. I keep hearing about the slimmed down BBC but every time I go into a music show there seem to be more people about than ever before. I know GLR was on the Mickey Mouse wing of things but for ten years I did a show there without a producer or much in the way of assistance other than the odd enthusiastic listener. When I wanted to go on holiday I had to let somebody else do the show and run the risk that the listeners might prefer them.

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