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Topic Title: The future of ITV
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Created On: 15 September 2013 01:00 PM
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 15 September 2013 01:00 PM
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jencam

Posts: 608
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Reading The Dream That Died: The Rise and Fall of ITV offered a fascinating insight into what took place inside of ITV - albeit from a Granada centred perspective - and why ITV has faded so badly in prominence since the late 1990s. It also raised several questions about the future of ITV including:

1. Would it really matter if ITV as an organisation and a broadcaster died as long as the archive of programmes became available for other TV channels or released on DVD format?

2. Is there still a consumer demand for regional TV channels? If so then should ITV be broken up and new regional TV channels created from it?

3. Should ITV focus more on niche programmes rather than on trying to win mass audiences with downmarket popular entertainment?
 16 September 2013 09:48 PM
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kengreen

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Hi Jencam,

I think you are getting rather deep into history here both as regards ITV and the recent lunatic sale of BBC TV Centre. As I remember ITV came into being as "the third channel" the first two being BBC 1 and BBC 2. There was a lot of opposition to bring in a third channel and it had nothing to do with the BBC's monopoly; rather was it a question of muscling in to television as a money-making chance that was just waiting to be exploited.

At that time the BBC was having problems getting the necessary material to fill its two channels. It was pointed out that a good playwright could only write two plays a year while television needed one play per week - there just weren't that number of writers available. The inevitable consequence of starting a third channel was that all three channel would be largely occupied with repeated programmes - history has spoken!

To answer your first question I would say that ITV is no loss - on the contrary let us get rid of Sky while we are at it and maybe we will be offered some television worth watching.Even the BBC has longforgotten the condition on its licence that it has an obligation to cater for the smallr audience for less popular programmes - in other words the BBC, financed out of public funds, is the Guardian of the Nations Arts. As far back as the 1950's I heard television producers worrying about their standing in the Ratings?

As for regional programmes if they have taken a back seat this is because the big fellows like sky, with advertising funds behind them, have taken over all the popular programs (such as sport) and their advertising revenues are linked to large audiences.

I think your third question is more tautological than anything else - there ain't no cash in niche!

May I say finally that any pretence at logical decisions is ludicrous in the light of the lunatic sale of West London TV Centre.the building was planned and built to be the heart of BBC television and its output has been at the top of the league.it is more - was more - than just a housing for a half-dozen studios. To sell off your assets is a standard procedure for Accountants who are by training myopic. If the BBC was strapped for cash the only direction in which to point the finger was toward the politicians; seeing the dreadful fate of TV centre and its fixtures, furnishings and fittings - apart from its technical content - it seems there was more money to be made by selling desks and carpets; by that I mean money for the BBC rather than the vultures who fell on it.

Ken Green
 17 September 2013 11:04 AM
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amandalewin

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TV is changing and ITV haven't managed to keep up. The majority of people I know don't want to have to tune in at a particular time to watch a TV show every week. They want to be able to watch it online or record it digitally etc.

Iplayer is wonderful and channel 4 have at least tried to compete with their 4OD although its not as polished as the BBC product but the ITV player is horrible and buggy and badly designed.

Then you have to consider the multitude of other channels people who have more than freeview have. With that kind of competition what is ITV offering? They have some good programmes but most seem to be second rate shows ripped off from other channels.

Anyway they are in the process of building a shiny new office at Salford Quays so maybe the BBC will rub off on them a bit

-------------------------
Amanda

'At some point we all must chose between what is right and what is awesome'
 17 September 2013 01:59 PM
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westonpa

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Well let's be honest Amanda they have had to compete with a BBC who are given their income by law each and every year and do not otherwise have to compete for it. When advertising revenues fell it did not effect the BBC as it did ITV and Channel 4 etc. I think the BBC is quite decent in what it offers but let's not kid ourselves it's because they have great management because in many areas they do not. If the BBC had to compete equally then it would have downsized and reduced quality a long time ago. Reduce the licence fee to cover the services which the BBC must provide for national/safety reasons and then let them compete on the rest and then let's see how things change. I think the BBC standards will drop and ITV will then have fairer competition and will improve.

There is now enough TV available to stop funding some parts of the BBC.

Regards.
 17 September 2013 04:38 PM
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amandalewin

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Originally posted by: westonpa

Well let's be honest Amanda they have had to compete with a BBC who are given their income by law each and every year and do not otherwise have to compete for it. When advertising revenues fell it did not effect the BBC as it did ITV and Channel 4 etc. I think the BBC is quite decent in what it offers but let's not kid ourselves it's because they have great management because in many areas they do not. If the BBC had to compete equally then it would have downsized and reduced quality a long time ago. Reduce the licence fee to cover the services which the BBC must provide for national/safety reasons and then let them compete on the rest and then let's see how things change. I think the BBC standards will drop and ITV will then have fairer competition and will improve.



There is now enough TV available to stop funding some parts of the BBC.



Regards.


I don't think that is entirely fair. The BBC has to produce programmes that cover what would normally be non profitable subjects where commercial TV can make shows about whatever they like. They have a lot more flexibility in what they can buy or commission. However as I said in my original post content is only part of the problem and the BBC do have good resources for ensuring their content is delivered in the most up to date platforms like the internet, mobile devices, smart TV's etc not to mention the red button content which is really good for sport when they can afford to show it

Maybe that is the main problem for ITV, they are competing with a service rather than a business but I don't believe it's just the BBC they are losing viewers to. I've not got cable or sky but I imagine that even though the majority of the channels aren't quality just the sheer number of them will be taking away from ITV because they don't seem to me to be doing anything special.

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Amanda

'At some point we all must chose between what is right and what is awesome'
 17 September 2013 07:20 PM
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kengreen

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Amanda,

I think that what you say is on the whole affair but without doubt the BBC could do more to advertise itself instead of trying to advertise its programmes to its viewers! To be fair the Beeb has the poor and the dirty end of the stick; it's not often they get praise - except for some of the superb productions - but every Tom Dick and Harry either seize on or distil a chance to denigrate them.

For a period I was engineer in charge at the television Theatre on shepherds Bush Green and I was visited by two engineers from ITV. They werestaggered at the installation I nursed and about which I was often scornful; we were equipped with four operational cameras plus one Xtra as a standby on the stage plus a sixth one in the apparatus room (which is an essential itemin servicing cameras - the ITV gentleman under the same circumstances had a total of only four cameras. Then again are area in which the
bulk of the six cameraswas installed plus other essential equipment did at times get unbearably hot - my visitors could only spend 15 to 20 minutesin their equivalent simply because ventilation had not been installed.

This was of course some time ago but it does illustrate the difference between one who desires to give the best and one other who desires to take the best.
 18 September 2013 10:05 AM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: amandalewin
I don't think that is entirely fair.

Agreed, it's not 'entirely' fair but we cannot cover every single detail and as we all know there are quite a few variables involved. I am just saying that the BBC is given its income by law and therefore as a business it is easier, than it is for ITV. I am not saying, for example, that ITV have brilliant management and have not made lots of mistakes. I can count on one hand the number of times I have watched ITV in the last 15 years. I think the BBC do a good job overall and am happy to pay for the licence fee but in the world of business I do understand it's also somewhat easier for them overall. With regards to ITV their mistake, as is often the case with many companies, was to rake off the profits in their hayday, and not properly invest/plan for the future. It was the we are doing great and so it will always be great syndrome. You may have noticed the same with Blair and Brown.....we 'have abolished boom and bust'.

You have a lot more flexibility on what you can buy generally when you also have the finances. Take a look at what/where you can buy a house with £500k and then try the same with £40k. Another thing I really do not like is a lot of these presenters getting extremely large saleries for what is basically a job.

I'm not a fan of ITV and I think the BBC do a pretty good job on the whole but I do recognise one gets it's income by law. Now the BBC is being forced to make cutbacks let's see if the service remains at the same quality. Hope so!

Regards.
 18 September 2013 08:53 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: kengreen
As I remember ITV came into being as "the third channel" the first two being BBC 1 and BBC 2.


Incorrect. The first ITV company was Associated Rediffusion which began broadcasting in and around London in 1955, and the last region to have an ITV service was the North of Scotland when Grampian came on air in September 1961. BBC 2 began broadcasting in 1964 on 625 line UHF and required a new TV to receive it.

As for regional programmes if they have taken a back seat this is because the big fellows like sky, with advertising funds behind them, have taken over all the popular programs (such as sport) and their advertising revenues are linked to large audiences.


The loss of local and regional programmes was mainly attributed to the takeovers of ITV companies by Granada and Carlton followed by the downsizing and closure of studios across the country. For example, Westward and its successor Television South West (TSW) was notable for focusing on the production of local programmes - many of which were only broadcast within its region. It lost its franchise to Westcountry and a few years later it was taken over by Carlton followed by a sharp decline in local production as it became an outpost of a (rather faceless) London media company.

This is why I asked the question about whether ITV should be broken up into regional channels in order to help restore the potential for the return of production of local programme material.

I think your third question is more tautological than anything else - there ain't no cash in niche!


I dispute this. Television South (TVS) had a policy of very tightly targeted programmes to minorities rather than the lowest common denominator of bludgeoned large audiences according to the video Birth of a Station. In the late 1980s TVS was a very profitable ITV company which became the 5th largest beating Yorkshire Television and nearly beat LWT.

Originally posted by: amandalewin
Then you have to consider the multitude of other channels people who have more than freeview have. With that kind of competition what is ITV offering? They have some good programmes but most seem to be second rate shows ripped off from other channels.


The younger generation is turning its back on terrestrial television. A recent survey revealed that ITV1 is no longer in the 10 most popular channels. A generational divide has emerged where the kids watch YouTube videos on their smartphones whilst their grandparents stare at cathode ray tubes and begrudge having to buy a small box of electronics in order to continue watching terrestrial channels. Could this be a cynical explanation of the real reason for producing Downton Abbey?

Originally posted by: westonpa

Well let's be honest Amanda they have had to compete with a BBC who are given their income by law each and every year and do not otherwise have to compete for it.


It could be argued that the BBC has an unfair (financial) advantage over privately owned media companies because it is almost guaranteed its income whereas private companies have to stand on their own two feet to survive financially. I'm surprised that EU competition commissioners haven't mounted a serious challenge to this yet.

Is there an obscure clause allowing the government to bail out ITV if it goes bust or does it have to close down like an obscure satellite channel has to?
 19 September 2013 02:20 AM
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kengreen

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jenc am,

There is, of course, no way that you could be aware of how much you take for granted. How many people I wonder have ever pondered why, at the outbreak of war, our domestic broadcasting was shrunk to just three nationwide channels namely Home, Light and Third(come to think of it I may be a bit out of line there) but it was all achieved in the name of defence. In the early stages I was informed that the first German bomber to descend on our soil was to the credit of the BBC? He was navigating on our high-power domestic medium wave transmitters but the BBC, guided by the brand-new radar system, gave him a helping hand which caused him to fly around in circles!

It is some fifty years since I quit the BBC and doubtless much has changed but I had good reason to believe that the income the BBC received was tied to some extent to its role in national defence. No good asking me more of that - I was not sufficiently senior to be in on such matters. I do believe however that, like the ubiquitous GP, beeb has been constantly told where and when to upgrade services without any necessary cash being supplied.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that, in those days, any break in service greater than three seconds, was logged and investigated - not with a view to assigning blame but to see if measures could be put in place to prevent a repeat. For a long time now it has not been unusual for breaks in programme to exceed one minute and never do we hear any kind of explanation nor of apology?

I have no feelings of loyalty to the BBC because I am only too aware of its fall in standards in these post-war years which I I do not doubt has been caused by the passing of the old guard. However the arts side has gone from triumph to triumph despite the restrictions on resources and credit should be given where credit is due.

I do not fear to state blankly that the problems in commercial television are due to the American disease known as "worship of the Almighty dollar"; I would prefer to call it greed.


Ken Green
 19 September 2013 10:38 AM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: kengreen
I do not fear to state blankly that the problems in commercial television are due to the American disease known as "worship of the Almighty dollar"; I would prefer to call it greed.

And now it's not even a real $ but a printed one repeatedly pumped into their economy by the Fed.

Regards.
 19 September 2013 06:19 PM
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jencam

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The discussion is about ITV rather than the BBC...

Is there any engineering inside ITV or is it just purely media nowadays? IBA had a substantial engineering department second only to that in the BBC but, according to my son, what exists in Arqiva today is a shadow of its former self.

Originally posted by: kengreen
I do not fear to state blankly that the problems in commercial television are due to the American disease known as "worship of the Almighty dollar"; I would prefer to call it greed.


This is debatable. From the 1950s to the 1990s owning an ITV franchise, with the possible exception of Border Television, was close to a licence to print money. There are countless satellite and internet TV channels around that are run on the principle of providing information more so than making a fortune so it isn't always justified to say that ALL commercial television is infected with the disease of worshipping the almighty dollar.
 20 September 2013 10:25 AM
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amandalewin

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Originally posted by: jencam


The younger generation is turning its back on terrestrial television. A recent survey revealed that ITV1 is no longer in the 10 most popular channels. A generational divide has emerged where the kids watch YouTube videos on their smartphones whilst their grandparents stare at cathode ray tubes and begrudge having to buy a small box of electronics in order to continue watching terrestrial channels. Could this be a cynical explanation of the real reason for producing Downton Abbey?



I'm not sure about youtube but my friends, all around 25-32 just don't want to be restricted to the timetable. No one hurries home to catch Corrie. We want to watch a show at our leisure. I'm quite a fan of Pen and Teller so when their magic show was on ITV I tried to use their ITV player to watch it and it was annoyingly full of adverts and quite buggy.

My new TV is a smart TV, it's got 'apps' so you can watch youtube on the tv as well as use skype, the internet, iplayer etc. TV on demand is the future but ITVs on demand services are not on par with its competitors in the form of Channel 4, BBC, Netflix, and Lovefilm.

Netflix are even making shows now for release on their platform before it gets sold to a TV company.

-------------------------
Amanda

'At some point we all must chose between what is right and what is awesome'
 21 September 2013 12:43 PM
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kengreen

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Amanda,

I feel that you are not addressing the issue under discussion. So far we have been concerned with the reasons behind the failure of ITV and this I think can only be regarded in the light of present successes and past failures.

What you have described is the modern culture of "what I want" backed up by the conviction that their nanny state owes it. If your friends want to ditch restriction of a timetable and to have a TV set which can cook, as well as eat, bananas, then they should have to pay for it?

If you want more than just BBC 1 and BBC 2 then from somewhere you have to find the cash to pay for it. Enter ITV. Nowadays we have the blatant cheat of 999 channels from sky and all the detritus that contaminates both the airways and our lives. Today we have abandoned the high standards and beliefs of Lord Reith when he took over the British broadcasting companyand turned it into the British broadcasting Corporation whose standards were not allowed to drop below perfection. It is becoming very difficult today to find standards of any sort let alone perfection; in that I would except the artistic sides of broadcasting which you can study in productions like the BBC's Pride and Prejudice (not the latest horror) and in the Tyneside renditions of Catherine Cookson's splendid novels or the magnificent quartet by Anthony Hopkins "talking to a stranger"(sound).

In this life everything, but everything, has its price.

Ken Green
 21 September 2013 12:43 PM
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kengreen

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Amanda,

I feel that you are not addressing the issue under discussion. So far we have been concerned with the reasons behind the failure of ITV and this I think can only be regarded in the light of present successes and past failures.

What you have described is the modern culture of "what I want" backed up by the conviction that their nanny state owes it. If your friends want to ditch restriction of a timetable and to have a TV set which can cook, as well as eat, bananas, then they should have to pay for it?

If you want more than just BBC 1 and BBC 2 then from somewhere you have to find the cash to pay for it. Enter ITV. Nowadays we have the blatant cheat of 999 channels from sky and all the detritus that contaminates both the airways and our lives. Today we have abandoned the high standards and beliefs of Lord Reith when he took over the British broadcasting companyand turned it into the British broadcasting Corporation whose standards were not allowed to drop below perfection. It is becoming very difficult today to find standards of any sort let alone perfection; in that I would except the artistic sides of broadcasting which you can study in productions like the BBC's Pride and Prejudice (not the latest horror) and in the Tyneside renditions of Catherine Cookson's splendid novels or the magnificent quartet by Anthony Hopkins "talking to a stranger"(sound).

In this life everything, but everything, has its price.

Ken Green
 21 September 2013 03:15 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: kengreen
What you have described is the modern culture of "what I want" backed up by the conviction that their nanny state owes it. If your friends want to ditch restriction of a timetable and to have a TV set which can cook, as well as eat, bananas, then they should have to pay for it?


Yes, but this is because the politicians had been telling people for decades, and in order to get elected, that they can have it all today and pay for it instead tomorrow. Many parents were happy to go along with it and set the example for their children to follow. Take Greece as an extreme example, constantly voting in goverments who told them they could retire early, pay little tax, take top wages and pensions, buy what they wanted with cheap money and never have to pay for it.

You make a great point but if the young of today have attitudes we do not like then the responsibility lays with their parents and grandparents.

Regards.
 21 September 2013 05:52 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: kengreenNowadays we have the blatant cheat of 999 channels from sky and all the detritus that contaminates both the airways and our lives. Today we have abandoned the high standards and beliefs of Lord Reith when he took over the British broadcasting companyand turned it into the British broadcasting Corporation whose standards were not allowed to drop below perfection. It is becoming very difficult today to find standards of any sort let alone perfection; in that I would except the artistic sides of broadcasting which you can study in productions like the BBC's Pride and Prejudice (not the latest horror) and in the Tyneside renditions of Catherine Cookson's splendid novels or the magnificent quartet by Anthony Hopkins "talking to a stranger"(sound).


I think you are being a bit old fashioned. There are plenty of good quality programmes out there on satellite channels and on the internet if you know where to look. There are also channels and programmes that might not be to your taste - including cultural and religious stuff - but there is still a loyal market for it.

ITV is clearly a faltering and floundering channel which is attributed to a lack of a clear future strategy and policy for it more than anything else. It is less of a case of competition from other channels and more of a case of failing to adapt to such competition. The previous Labour government decided not to hold a franchise auction around 2003 because they wanted a single unified ITV instead of a regional ITV. Was this a good move or not? Would there be any significant losses to the engineering community if ITV went bust?
 22 September 2013 09:49 PM
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kengreen

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jemcam,

after the recorded words of a man much greater I, I fear you are committing a tautological inexactitude?

There is nothing wrong with being a bit old-fashioned when the old-fashioned contains the learning and manners the loss of which are at the roots of much of today's social problems. I will willingly take your word for it that good quality programmes are in plentiful supply on the Internet etc; I can only say that I have spent several hours in failing to find them.

American shoot-em -ups well mixed with Gore violence and big bangs (not of the cosmological type) are available in plenty but I could not even begin to describe them as possessing the smallest hint of either literary merit or of lending significantly to the ancient art of acting. Even in the last bastions on the operatic stage supreme idiocy and lack of taste is beginning to intrude.

Please don't preach about either the successesor spectacular failures on the political front; there has never been a greater demonstration of inept people being in the wrong place at the wrong time and for the wrong purpose?

The BBC has never had the right to compete with so-called competition; rather have they been compelled to walk a tightrope. I do not carry a torch for them but I can and do admire their accomplishments at least until the present generation of kindergarten expulsions assumed the reins.

Ken Green
 03 October 2013 05:08 PM
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normcall

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I've waded through all the comments above and thought I'd stick my bit in as a viewer.
I'm biased, I admit and even remember the test transmissions were they tried doing colour on black and white TV (blue was the colour).
The big problem with TV at the moment is the same material is having to be spread over many more channels. Scriptwriters struggle, and costs escalate. add in 24 hour transmissions and the good stuff gets spread very thinly on the ground.
Both the commercial and public channels have to 'trail' future programs for more that previously due to competition with the commercial ones adding in adverts which, in my view, are not as well made/produced as 20 years ago. Many adverts were absolute masterpieces but now they are time fillers shouting at the viewer.

As I say, the BBC generally has the better output but then you have to ask better than................................?
For repeats, the main 4/5 are getting as bad as the digital 'choice'.
My stepfather has sky and spends his whole time complaining that there is nothing on apart from repeats (naturally none of us have any interest in sport which I understand can keep you occupied for hours for little effort).

-------------------------
Norman
 05 October 2013 01:24 PM
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kengreen

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Norman

I don't find much to disagree with in your post. But you don't offer any reason why there should be a shortage of writers - at least, with the proliferation of channels we ought to be seeing an increase in competent writers?

This surely is a reflection of the steadily falling standards in our education system. I get books delivered to me from the county library which I can read with the aid of my Opto-the electronic magnifier; I also receive a steady supply of books on Daisy CDs from the RNIB to which I can listen on resting on the bed. At least 50 percent of these I return after reading no more than 25-30 percent: the lack of style in their telling, in their presentation and too often in the naivete of their crafting renders them harder going to say the least.

Is this fall in literary ability caused by the massive drift to television or is the disastrous decline in television artistry a result of literary accomplishments.

Ken Green
 06 October 2013 12:25 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: kengreen
This surely is a reflection of the steadily falling standards in our education system.


Another simple albeit disingenuous 'blame the schools'...

I have never understood why film and video production is not part of the National Curriculum or taught in many schools. There have been discussions within the Asperger syndrome community that incorporating it into drama could make the subject more attractive to children with Asperger syndrome.

Is this fall in literary ability caused by the massive drift to television or is the disastrous decline in television artistry a result of literary accomplishments.


Neither. Bad taste by media bosses is more to blame. There isn't much point in producing programmes if media companies won't broadcast them. I suspect that factual programme and documentaries have also suffered. The production of science and engineering documentaries appears to be another lost British industry.

There has been a drama series about Asperger syndrome under development but when it is finally filmed then there is a 99% chance that it will be shown on the internet because no existing television channels are interested in it.
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