Friday, March 06, 2009

ITV Cutbacks

I was saddened this week to read that ITV needs to make cutbacks in order to survive. Mainly because ITV is a welcomed UK alternative to the BBC.

I do not know all the in's and outs but it does seem that ITV has a lot of regulatory targets to meet which seem outdated and a burden in the world of digital TV. We still have a bloated BBC and Channel 4 that can be regulated and over burdened by regulations, the BBC is proped up by tax payers to allow that to happen. ITV should have been cut lose a long time ago.

However, it would also seem that ITV has been making mistakes. ITV Digital's collapse is still fresh in the mind, and since then the notable purchase of Friends Reunited must surly rank as an outright failure.

ITV faces big challenges, it will need to shrink before it grow again. It's top stars may need to take pay cuts if they want a new "golden handcuffs" deal. 600 Job losses have been announced as well as other cost cutting measures.

Favourite shows are being cancelled or reduced such as the Bill, Heartbeat and the Royal.

I have noticed in recent years that as ITV has expanded the overall quality has dipped, and a further dip could see ratings plummet. As ITV has moved into the digital world, too many programmes include the same conveyor belt of z-listers on some kind of circuit. To people like myself that have no earthly concern for these people it does tend to preclude a number of shows from my watch list and I increasingly find myself cutting in and out of programmes to skip the latest tabloid tease "keeping it real". This is of course not just ITV but TV as a whole.

Anyway, I was giving it some thought and I had a couple of ideas for low cost TV that would not be scrapping the barrel, well not too much anyway. With the fear that more "reality" shows are coming I thought I would put my ideas here and encourage others to do the same.

Idea 1. To steal the format of Question Time and put a competitive show up against it at the same time. QT gets a lot of press and can be unnecessarily dull some weeks. I log-on to live-blog with Biased BBC and share my frustrations with others each week. An ITV alternative could also redress the left wing bias that QT exhibits most weeks and could perhaps make QT on the BBC up its game and try a bit harder.

It would be fairly cheap (I would imagine) as the biggest contributor is the attending audience with the questions. A host would be required, some guests might appear for free or a low fee if they have a book to promote or an agenda they wish to discuss.

An extension on the idea would be to hold it in a pub to make it a little livelier. Though some weeks this could admittedly descend into chaos.

Idea 2. Another panel show that perhaps does not have many years in it but could be really good in the short term. The idea is to pit believers against non-believers on topics of paranormal and extraterrestrial basis and of some wilder conspiracy theories. A two hour show where by the first 40 minutes is given to the believers to make a case, the next 40 to the doubters to dispute and then the last 40 to audience and neutrals. A text vote could be employed to boost revenues.

Shows could include the existence (or not) of, Ghosts, or spirit people, Roswell, JFK plots, Big Foot, Area 51 etc...

Idea 3. Polytechnic Challenge. A cross between University Challenge and Blockbusters. Teams of students representing universities on general knowledge and contemporary topics. Not as hard as University Challenge so that more people can play along at home. Again Contestants would not need to be paid, so would just need a host and a time slot. Also, the format should be quick fire questions rather than this whole slow-burning, music playing, non-suspense, suspense.

Idea 4. Drama school. Let Drama schools make their own programmes and put them on late at night. Would attract a student audience, would be free and could unearth a few gems.

Feel free to add you own.

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