Let the BBC’s troubles be a lesson to us all

BBC handbook.jpg

The BBC is in trouble.

It stands accused of endemic audience deception – most specifically over the fabrication of phone and interactive competitions where the participants have no chance of winning and the declared winners are either fictitious or members of the production staff.

Oh and there was some argy bargy about the Royal Family as well but any opportunity to give the parasites a kicking is fine by me.

Of course the BBC is in the firing line because we expect rather more of them than the commerical broadcasters and because they are funded by taxation. It is very clear that the decline in production standards has been widespread across the UK television business.
One of the significant factors appears to have been the casualisation of the production workforce so that people are on short term contracts and move from broadcaster to broadcaster, production company to production company with no real sense of the culture and ethics of the place they are working. Moreover as the fare they are asked ot concoct becomes ever more crass they care less and less about the nature of the product – we are making crap anyway so why care about the quality of the crap.
And it struck me that before we all have a good chortle at the difficulties faced by the people on the content side of the fence we should spend a moment thinking about what we do.
If you don’t care about what you are doing you lose respect for the people that you are doing it for, the people you are communicating with and for your personal day to day output. And this is a very slippery slope.
To be quite honest thats why I think the vast majority of bad work happens (by which I mean work that is deceptive or disrespectful) – because the people creating it are past caring. whether this is because of poor organisational culture, intense pressures to deliver, abusive client/agency relationships or just poor quality talent.
What has hapened at the BBC should be a lesson to us all to start caring about the quality of what we make or ship out of the business altogether.

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11 Replies to “Let the BBC’s troubles be a lesson to us all”

  1. Of course you are right.
    But who creates the non-caring culture? Is it the people who earn the salary or the people who pay them?

  2. Are strategic planners the advertising equivalent of theatre critics? People who can tell whether something is good without you having to risk making the decision yourself? I find most SPs are well read in an acedemic sense, they know all the right books and read all the right blogs, they have the correct opinion on everything and boy they sure like to write (name me a planner who doesn’t bore the shit out of people on their blog and I’ll name you a creative who does) and they visit all the same creative websites as the creatives.
    But I so rarely find anything they say is useful or original. They have opinions that sound stapled from somewhere else. Maybe good SPs exist, I don’t know. I just think of them as ad groupies. People who know all the right answers to all the right questions but who don’t actually possess the creative intelligence with which to make intelligent, original observations on intelligence.
    Tell me I’m wrong, but you do seem to be a rather useless group of people who hang onto your jobs through grim determination in spite of an outstanding lack of added value.
    Blog this!

  3. I expect there will be a direct answer to that last post, though it seems a bit irrelevant and selr-referential in the context of the discussion.
    That aside…I don’t think this about not caring enough, I think it’s about caring about the wrong things. UGC (which is what phone ins effectively are) is flakey. You can’t control it and tv is all about the illusion of controlling the audience experience. Producers are more concerned to create the right televisual experience than to create a genuine interaction between themselves and the audience and they used to be able to act behind a glass wall. They can’t do this any more in these days of assessment and online interaction and they are going to have to remodel.
    They need to stop caring about the effect and care about the reality.

  4. planners are rubbish: come on creative vs. planners is an old and soft target. the new marketing dynamic demands that the roles are starting to combine. name a half decent creative that doesn’t have the attributes of a planner and vice versa.
    re bbc: i blame the arcane way of measuring audiences which means an increasing number of derivative safe/me too programming rather than a focus on innovation and mould breaking. err exactly how advertisers measure.
    though you could argue bbc3 fulfills this brief, so why don’t agencies have a bbc3 department?

  5. Creative guy -you are obviously a twat. I say this not because I wish to agree with Richard, because, god knows, I rarely do. Richard hates opera and brainstorming both of which I like and I will never forgive him for the nonsense that he has written on both subjects on this blog.
    But you, have kind of summed up the stupidity that RH is talking about in his post. And that makes you a twat.
    And before you get all “oh that’s another fucking planner” I should tell you that I’m a printer.
    You have single-handedly proved that the advertisng industry is incapable of self relflection.

  6. Creative Guy, out of interest what of your work will we have seen at Cannes or D&AD?

  7. Marcus,
    Best comment on any blog I read today.
    Made me bloody laugh. For which I thank you. Nice one.

  8. I never understand how these things happen. Even the most below-average among us understand deception and manipulation make no long-term sense.

  9. Been a bit immersed in the land of “Pitch” for the past 3 weeks, so happy to be back in the land of Blogs and reading comments from the likes of Creative Guy (smart name, very creative and Ronseal-esque) and Marcus.
    Richard, I have not seen the documentary that all the fuss was about ( I sense a trip to All U C later on tonight), but my sense is that the definition of “good TV” probably varies from station to station. RDF, the folks behind the documentary in question, have a different end goal I would imagine than the BBC. It’s certainly made me want to see a program that I otherwise would probably have gone out of my way to avoid.

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