HOME   ARCHIVE   GALLERY   SHOP   ABOUT US      
 

 
More Council Control?
 

Councils To Control Local Telly?  Are they having a laugh or what?
Nigel Pivaro checks out the future of local tv at a recent conference held in Salford….

The alleged movers and shakers of visual media gathered at the Lowry Theatre on 19th Jan 2009 to indulge in a blah blah fest on the future of broadcasting in the nations (i.e. Wales, Scotland and Ulster) and regions (here there and everywhere that is not London and the South East).

This 16th conference was unfortunately mis-timed to coincide with the publication of the all-important Ofcom report into the future of public service broadcasting.  All speakers agreed that public service broadcasting is a force for good, it is necessary for democracy.
However apart from that broad agreement there was little blue-sky innovation on how quality public service broadcasting could be sustained.

Peter Williams, a 40 year stalwart of quality documentaries and founder of the United for Local Television Group, seemed to think that we should get more local. His group wants to open up a massive auction of licences for a network of truly local stations across the country.

In Williams’ world every metropolitan borough and county area would have its own local channel connected to a new overarching network, Channel 6. But who is going to pay for all this local output? I cannot foresee overseas broadcasters queuing up to buy locally produced programmes about bell ringing in Tintwistle or womens’ groups in Cheetham Hill.

Williams was confident that a large source of funding could come from local authority councils. You what!  I can hear the champagne corks popping in every rotten borough town hall in the country as council leaders rush out to get image makeovers and increase the number of media advisers on the already swollen payroll.

What guarantees of editorial independence, I asked Mr Williams, if the purse strings are controlled by the likes of John Merry? He seemed to think that local independent trusts would see to that. But if he thinks that trusts could operate independently of political pressure or patronage he really is living on a different planet.

UK 2009 equals image obsessed councils that try to micro manage every morsel of local news output to their advantage. Williams should talk to local newspaper editors who are constantly force fed a diet of council speak, with under paid, over worked, under staffed journalists trying to cut through it. Any criticism of council policy gets harder.

On one hand, the commercial world credit crunch has made local publications more reliant on the huge council advertising budgets and might not want to rock any boats.  On the other, councils are increasingly withdrawing their advertising into their own Pravda style magazines. Democracy and accountability is getting lost somewhere in the middle.

The United for Local Television Group don’t really seem to have thought their business model through. Italy has more TV channels than any country on earth but the vast majority of it is crap. Because the Italian channels that in some cases broadcast  audiences of only 10,000 struggle to make it pay, big business in the shape of Silvio Berlusconi stepped in.
He bankrolled the channels which are now the broadcasting equivalent of a castrato singing soprano to old Silvio’s tune.

Take Channel M, it is hardly adequate for the diverse needs of 2.6 million residents of Greater Manchester. And if what we want in Salford differs from what is important to viewers in Wigan or Ramsbottom then how would Channel 6 square the circle for viewers in say Barrow or Windermere when trying to manage a Cumbrian channel?

If it is not broke why try to fix it? Oh sorry it already is broke, as ITV cuts back on its local news output and fails to commission hardly any local interest  documentaries.

The big problem for localised TV is that although most people think it would be a good thing, nobody would really watch it, except if it was showing a feature on their own wacky pub darts team that had shaved the left side of their heads for charity. If it’s the pub team from the next town doing it, then nobody gives a toss.

The afternoon brought media stars like Shameless creator Paul Abbot on to the platform. Abbott bemoaned the lack of investment in Northern writers, complaining he had to pay for new writers out of his own pocket.

“Research and development is not on the agenda and it needs to be so we can put bodies in the shiny new offices” warned Abbott.

Having worked extensively down south I considered if life was that much easier for London writers. Not really, the big difference is, they have a theatre in London. That is where the research and development is carried out; prolific London writers like Tony Marchant spent years honing their craft in the vibrant theatre scene there. It nurtures new writing better than anything a once in a while chance to write an episode of Coronation Street, Shameless or Hollyoaks can.

If Abbott and others are really interested in developing their new writing talent perhaps they should get back to basics and support the theatre. Especially the small theatres on the fringe like The Green Room, The Contact and even the old Salford Players theatre.
Salford has not had a professional theatre that stages its own productions for over 40 years - something Media City might consider when it apportions its own research and development resources.

What I find worrying is the difference between the ambitions of London kids and many Northern kids. London kids primarily want to perform, whether that is on the stage, television or film. However when you speak to most kids in the North they ‘want be on the telly’ and have little grasp of the job or art of acting beyond the tube.

Until that is addressed, talent in the North (and there is plenty of it about) will be constrained to chasing the limited amount of acting roles and writing commissions on the usual suspect list of local TV staples.

To create a sustainable talent pool that is capable of surviving beyond that system and progressing to create new echelons of creativity and industry, then performance and writing, both creative and journalistic, must get right back to basics.

The media delegates that congressed at the Lowry must recognise their industry is not a stand alone one but merely a link in the creative chain. 

Please enter your comment below:
 
 
 
Salford Star Hoodies
Salford Star contact
Deli Lama
advertisement
 
Contact us
phone: 07957 982960
Facebook       Twitter
 
 
Recent comments
article: 91% OF SALFORD UNIVERSAL CREDIT CLAIMANTS IN ARREARS WITH CITY WEST
I believe that Salford Council secretly want and agree with Universal Credit and with benefit sanctions. The reason that I say thi... [more]
article: NEW CLADDING FOR SALFORD TOWER BLOCKS IN MARCH SAYS DEPUTY MAYOR
Oh for goodness sake Felse, you don’t even live in one of these blocks and you’re sticking your nose into something again. You’ve ... [more]
article: NEW CLADDING FOR SALFORD TOWER BLOCKS IN MARCH SAYS DEPUTY MAYOR
With regard MJ Felse, what he needs to succeed in local politics, are just three things. 1: Money. 2: Publicity. To become known a... [more]
article: SALFORD COUNCIL HELD TO RANSOM BY PEEL HOLDINGS OVER NEW SHIP CANAL LIFTING BRIDGE
Perhaps the simple answer to the toll of 12p might be to offer the toll collector a £50 note each day. If he or she could not give... [more]
article: 91% OF SALFORD UNIVERSAL CREDIT CLAIMANTS IN ARREARS WITH CITY WEST
In the section yesterday I mentioned about the plight of a friend as regards universal credit. After all the rows we have had with... [more]
 
 
 
 
 
Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
 
 
 

Donate

Help the Salford Star...

all donations welcome

 
 

More articles...

91% OF SALFORD UNIVERSAL CREDIT CLAIMANTS IN ARREARS WITH CITY WEST

Star date: 18th January 2018

HUGE INCREASE IN SALFORD RENT ARREARS DUE TO UNIVERSAL CREDIT

91.3% of City West tenants claiming Universal Credit are currently in arrears with their rent payments, compared to 42.3% of tenants in arrears who are not claiming Universal Credit.

Relating the figures to yesterday's full meeting of Salford Council, City Mayor Paul Dennett added that there was "a clear correlation between the introduction of Universal Credit and increased use of collection orders.

Full details here...

NEW CLADDING FOR SALFORD TOWER BLOCKS IN MARCH SAYS DEPUTY MAYOR

Star date: 17th January 2018

PENDLETON BLOCKS WILL HAVE NEW CLADDING IN MARCH

At today's full meeting of Salford City Council, Deputy Mayor, John Merry, said he was "fairly confident" that new cladding will be put on the nine Pendleton tower blocks, beginning in March. He added that residents' safety had been put "top of the list...I don't think anyone can complain".

John Merry disclosed that documentation relating to cladding on blocks owned by Salix and City West had been sent to councillors, although nothing has been published for the public. He added that a report into how the dangerous cladding was put onto the blocks in the first place will soon be available.

Full details here...

SALFORD HOMELESSNESS CONFERENCE EXCLUDES HOMELESS AT OVER £325 PER TICKET

Star date: 16th January 2018

SALFORD UNIVERSITY CONFERENCE PROMISES 'UNIQUE INSIGHT INTO CAUSES OF HOMELESSNESS' – WITH NO HOMELESS PEOPLE PRESENT

A University of Salford conference which promises to "provide unique insights into the underlying causes and potential solutions to the homelessness crisis" is charging £325+VAT per ticket, thus excluding not only the homeless but also grass roots housing organisations.

One of the speakers is Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, while a panel will ask 'How can we most effectively improve services to vulnerable homeless households and individuals?'...without any 'vulnerable homeless' people there to share their views.

Full details here...

‘NO COMPASSION’ AS MANCHESTER HOMELESS SQUAT EVICTED

Star date: 16th January 2018

BETFRED SQUAT EVICTED AS 17 HOMELESS PEOPLE BACK ON STREETS

Yesterday's early morning eviction of a squat above the BefFred shop opposite Manchester Town Hall has been roundly condemned by housing campaigners, as 17 homeless people were put back on the streets.

Greater Manchester Housing Action stated "shame on whoever it was that made the decision to evict"; while Angela Barratt, of Salford Manchester Street Support, who was volunteering at the squat's night shelter as the eviction happened, told the Salford Star that "There was just no compassion..."

Full details here...

PEEL HOLDINGS SALFORD BUILDING SQUATTED BY HOMELESS

Star date: 15th January 2018

PEEL OFFICES IN ECCLES SQUATTED

As the Manchester squat above BetFred in the city centre was evicted this morning, homeless people in Salford have occupied an office building owned by Peel Holdings near Eccles.

Peel recently received a cheap public money loan of over £8million for its Lightbox apartments in MediaCityUK, where flats cost up to £400,000... "This was our only option" says John who has been homeless for almost five years.

Full details here...

 



written and produced by Salfordians for Salfordians
with attitude and love xxx