Wed, Jul 29, 2009
[Photo by Duncan Rawlinson]
Great opening episode of Soho Stories, a three-part series on Radio 4 fronted by ITV’s former Director of Entertainment and Comedy and current CEO of Eyeworks UK, Paul Jackson.
This episode – A Thousand Flowers – documented the creation of Channel 4 in 1982, despite the protestations of ITV and the Beeb, and the ensuing scramble by forward-thinking figureheads of TV output to claim a piece of the independent production landscape.
This was the Wild West of TV production, a blank canvas borne out of a backlash to existing bureaucracy and an attempt to inject life into Margaret Thatcher’s ethos of entrepreneurship in the early ’80s. Fascinating stuff and I’d urge you to have a listen.
Are there parallels between that time, over a quarter of a century ago, and today’s [multi]media production landscape. I think so.
There seems to be an increasing level of frustration amongst the indie sector that broadcasters – including Channel 4, ironically – are battening down the hatches to ride the current economic storm, ‘playing it safe’ and only backing ‘sure-fire winners’ with their commissioning decisions, when what’s really needed is a return to the creative and entrepreneurial eighties.
Like them or loathe them, the marketplace for ‘killer’ apps seems to be a burgeoning one in terms of accessibility, offering opportunities for ‘bedroom’ developers to produce and publish innovative content for [personal and shared] commercial gain which seems to be working, in parallel with initiatives like 4iP.
A similar ‘suck it and see’ approach needs to be adopted by traditional TV producers and publishers, if for no other reason than to address the dearth of new blood and diverse talent coming into the media industry.
Let’s get something structured in place, immerse ourselves in the creative pool, cause a few ripples and maybe turn the tide of TV production. As a lone surfer on this particular wave, we can confirm the water’s lovely.