Friday, November 06, 2015


Today, I wasted forty five minutes of my life stuck in traffic, as the centre of Crapchester became gridlocked for no apparent reason other than it was raining.  It's a peculiarity of the inhabitants of this town that, as soon as a single drop of rain falls, they all pile into their cars and congest the roads.  I just wish they wouldn't do this on a miserable November Friday when all I want to do is get home.  I often ponder as to how much of my life I waste in such situations.  It is profoundly frustrating when what should be no more than a ten minute drive (at most) turns into an ordeal like this.  The worst part was when I thought that I'd finally cleared the worst of the congestion and was actually within sight of the car park where my car 'lives' overnight, only to find myself reduced to a crawl once again as, thanks to Crapchester's one way system, I hit the other end of the traffic queue.  But, as I said, I shudder to think of the hours I've wasted stuck in traffic and all the better things I could have been doing.

Having inflicted today's misery on you, I'm going to change tack completely and talk about ITV executives' incredible whingeing about the BBC as part of culture secretary John Shittingdale's enquiry into the BBC and what it should be doing.  The whole thrust of their submission seemed to be that their viewing figures were declining because the BBC had some kind of unfair advantage over them due to its public funding.  They demanded that the BBC not be allowed to buy-in US formats or movies in future.  I was left thinking, why the fuck don't you just try making programmes people actually want to watch, if you want to arrest the decline in your popularity?  The business about the BBC not being allowed to buy in US formats left me mystified: right now the main bought-in format the BBC has is 'The Voice', which hasn't actually done anything ratings-wise against its ITV competition.  The fact is that the format currently kicking 'X-Factor's' ass in the ratings is 'Strictly Come Dancing' - a format developed by the BBC and widely sold to overseas broadcasters.  The fact is that ITV's decline is entirely down to its lack of originality and poor scheduling.  Add to that its rush to produce 'lowest common denominator' programming so as to appease advertisers and it shouldn't be any wonder that ITV is losing viewers.  Speaking personally, I can honestly say that there isn't anything I watch regularly on ITV's main channel.  That isn't snobbery on my part, it is simply the fact that ITV's output is generally shit and clearly not aimed at my demographic, (or any other demographic, it seems).

Of course, this is just another manifestation of the hoary and discredited old theory that the private sector gets 'crowded out' by the public.  It's absolute nonsense - always has been, always will be.  If ITV can't 'compete' with the BBC for viewers, it has nothing to do with the fact that the BBC has a guaranteed income from the licence fee.  The fact is that the kind of programmes the BBC makes are, in general, the kind of things that ITV wouldn't make, as they'd be considered too risky or too niche.  If they happen to strike a chord with the viewing public, whereas ITV's supposedly more commercial and populist fare doesn't, then all that bashing the Beeb will achieve is dumbing down British TV even more.  Perhaps ITV needs to engage in more audience research, be bolder in its commissioning and stop being risk averse.  After all, the BBC these days has been cowed by the Tories to the point that it is far less willing to take risks than ten or twenty years ago, yet its programming is still consistently far more innovative than ITV's.  

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