Why ITV have got it all wrong

Unusually, because I usually agree with the excellent writing of City Unslicker, I disagree with the thrust of his story today about why ITV are failing.

He asserts that ITV cannot compete with the BBC's licence fee subsidising the payment of big stars and that the BBC steals ITV's best ideas.

Actually, he could not be more wrong on the second point.

Take any BBC innovation in recent years and ITV have stolen it, renamed it, and generally made a crapper less interesting and much more shallow copy.

Just turning on ITV today brings up Jeremy Kyle (need I remind people that Kilroy was making this sort of show on the BBC nearly 20 years ago), Daily Cooks Challenge (Ready Steady Cook was out on the BBC 14 years ago), Golden Balls (a show where contestants "vote off" other contestants like the BBC's Weakest Link) and there are many, many more examples.

The truth of it is that the BBC is actually much more cutting edge than ITV. ITV have lost the desire to win new audiences because there is a risk that there may not be enough viewers to get the ads in, so it plays safe to a shrinking audience.

Would we have ever seen The Office coming from ITV ? What about Little Britain or Gavin and Stacey ? We all know that there is not a cat in hell's chance of ITV making a show like them because making another series of Heartbeat or Lewis will bring in more guaranteed cash.

As for the idea that the BBC buys up all the big stars, yes they do pay big wages (too big) to certain people, but would Jonathan Ross be making the shows he does for the BBC on ITV ? His series on BBC3 about all things Japanese was interesting and showed a real insight in to Japan that I would never expect to see from ITV. I'm not Jonathan Ross' greatest fan, but let's face it, he does more than one thing a week. A Radio DJ, his chat show, his Film Show and other things too, he does work for his cash. Let's not forget though that ITV too like to pay big money to stars, it's just that ITV's stars are not really that great.

ITV paid a large sum as a "Golden Handcuffs" to Vernon Kay. Who ? Come on, he hosted "Beat the Star", a show which involved ordinary body builders (yes, they were that ordinary) trying to climb up piles of barrels or bang nails on to wood faster than a former sports star. What do you mean you've never heard of it ? And that's the point. This show "Beat the Star" was a prime time show, but do people really get excited about watching people milking cows as a race (I was told this was one of the challenges).

The lack of original ideas within ITV is highlighted too not just by Beat The Star, but by the number of celebrity related shows which basically re-hash old ideas but with celebs in place. Perhaps the worst example of which is Soap Star Super Chef. Remember this ? I thought not.

Even ITV's big shows, the ones that are must see TV are often seen as less than scrupulous in their running. Simon Cowell (here is someone else ITV can pay a fortune too) is the man behind X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, but you'd have to ask serious questions too about the validity of the results of both shows when there are numerous reports (and I have highlighted the problems) regarding the way the shows handle the votes.

So there we have it. We can blame the BBC for everything if we want, but then do we all want to sound like Daily Mail reporters. The truth is ITV's problem lie with ITV, not the BBC.


Anonymous said...

I've always thought ITV's problem was there own doing because, and this may come across a little snobby, they're too populist and stuck in the past.

They've not really created anything new and successful in years, wouldn't know a factual programme if it came up and bit them on the backside, ruin any sport they cover, axed all their political programming and missed the bandwagon in airing hugely popular and radical US imports

Alexfromnorfolk said...

I think much depends on what you like to watch. The point that I hardly ever watch either side anymore answers your question.

CityUnslicker said...

That is a pretty good response NB. BBC do steal the other way too however.

The difficulty is one of the points you raise. ITV do not make obscure TV about Japan etc. But would they if the BBC did not exist.
I think it is very hard to know the answer to this.
Also truth be told I am not against all public service broadcasting - my main beef is with a highly regressive poll tax.
Let's not even get started with some other areas too - BBC bought Lonely Planet for example..

Paul Pinfield said...

Other than the strangely addictive Kindgom, I can't think of a single ITV programme that I watch.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I don't watch kingdom (filmed in Swaffham in Norfolk) because it fall sin to that cosy set of ITV dramas that all blend in to each other (The Royal, Heartbeat, Where the heart is, Doc Martin, etc).

I too don't watch any ITV except when X Factor is On and also harry Hill's TV Burp !

Bill Quango MP said...

Its all very well to say Gavin and stacey and the office would never be made.. but is that true?
The West Wing.. a hugely successful show about serious US politics.
Try and pitch that in an executive meeting.

Shamelss, Peep Show, Black Books,Green Wing,Spaced, the IT crowd,trigger happy tv ,all got made and were successful.

The BBC make programs for their audience, like any other channel.

One foot in the grave, dibley, my family are all worthy, safe sit coms that ANY mainstream channel would like to hold for its 8 - 10.30 slot.These shows would all be made, but as the more obscure list above shows, other networks get programs made too.

So while I agree that ITV is responsible for their own misfortune,and I agree in the main with your post I do think that there is an awful lot of fat that could be trimmed from the BBC.

The usual debate is "do you want fox news?" shrieked in the same vain, and probably by the same people who say " Do you want Starbucks?".

I mostly watch C4 news. C4 is as far removed from Fox as it is possible to get.
Fox news appeals to a Fox news audience.
I doubt there is enough of a UK audience [ though i'm sure there is a lot more people than the liberal media would like to admit too] to sustain right wing slant news, but certainly there is room for a less compliant / cosy one.

Norfolk Blogger said...

You are of course extending the argument to Channel 4 when the debate was about ITV and the BBC, but fair enough.

For all that Channel 4 do, remember they make virtually no money from all thos shows ad barely cover their costs, and in order to do this they scrifice one quarter of their year to Big Brother. Is it worth it ? Do we want the BBC and ITV all running a Big Brother ?

Bill Quango MP said...

But BBC run Eastenders as a flagship show already. Its not BB I know, but its a major part of their schedule. I haven't watched an episode since that cracker of a show where Lofty had his hair accidentally dyed green.

As for ITV, I'm not watching them now.
They can run all the Big Brother shows they want.Makes no difference to me.