Thursday, 30 August 2007

What is the point of MGEITF??

Shocked by this article in today's Broadcast magazine...

Doesn't this anonymous tit realise he'll never work in TV again if he carries on at this rate?

"Last Bank holiday weekend the most powerful people in British Broadcasting assembled in Edinburgh for their annual TV Festival, to sleep with each other, take drugs and participate in backslapping pastiches of well known TV programmes like Jim'll Fix It and Top Gear.

Why they needed to travel all the way to Edinburgh to do this is unclear.

In the most prescient festival of recent years, with scandal rocking the industry, MGEITF’s woeful inadequacies were fatefully exposed. Here was an ideal chance for us all to pick over the carcass of TV and face some uncomfortable home truths. Or at least be grilled by a tenacious audience – not a bunch of sycophantic producers too paranoid to open their mouths in case it jeopardises their next commission.

Despite Peter Barron’s best efforts to inject more journalistic purpose to proceedings (eg. News 24 studio) the festival remains lightweight, inadequate and representing all that is bad about the industry - nepotistic, socially and culturally homogeneous, blisteringly arrogant, and full of wankers.

Edinburgh TV Festival is sold as THE place to mix. Where an ambitious assistant producer can perhaps get some face time with a Commissioning Editor. Or a passionate researcher can actually tell the BBC2 controller what they'd like to see on their channel. But who are they really supposed to network when all the important people are secure over at fortress Soho House, far from the shop-floor?

Let’s cut the pretence and admit what the festival is really for: An opportunity for social climbers to self promote, ambitious freelancers to line up their next job opportunity and independent chiefs to cement relationships with their channel clients.

Why not just call it a Trade Show and be done with it?

The Guardian sponsored event feels like a very closed shop indeed, run by a a quasi-Bilderberg Group.

Here's how it works: An Executive Committee 'appoint' one of their own each year to head up the festival, session ideas are thrown around in clandestine monthly meetings by an 'advisory committee' who are made up of all the same predictable people peddling the same viewpoints, the sessions are then filled with available TV whores who agree to be involved in return for free festival passes.

So what happened this year? Were any awkward questions asked at the meticulously controlled ‘Sessions’ and ‘Masterclasses’?

Did ITV Director of Programmes Simon Shaps (resplendent in a Gary Davis medallion-man look) have to sit on a stage with Paul Watson, the (perhaps unwittingly) original architect of 'reality' television - and face an uncomfortable grilling about what really went on behind-the-scenes on Malcolm and Barbara?

Did Stephen Lambert and Martin Davidson explain exactly how THAT trailer was allowed to be used to flog A Year with the Queen all over the world?

Was Jana Bennett grilled over the inherent structural flaws of the BBC’s commissioning process?

Did Channel 4’s Hamish Mykura/ Ralph Lee or Jane Root face analysis over how Bear Grylls was allowed to fake an entire factual TV series?

Was David Frank called to defend how his brand of ‘formatted factual’ had mutated into an uncontrollable monster?

Did Michael Grade have to face the anger of young (and experienced) producers who he ignorantly blamed for TV’s current problems?

Of course not.

No-one was brave enough to stick their head above the parapet.

Except perhaps Martin Durkin from WagTV.

In a session curiously titled 'Fuck Off I'm a TV God' his was the only lone voice that dared to challenge Daisy Goodwin's preposterous claim that Grand Designs (made by privileged people for other privileged people) somehow had some higher social purpose.

Sadly, however, everyone glossed over the fact that Daisy had recently met with David Cameron's Tory Party to gain backing for a new Channel 4 traffic congestion social experiment, thereby being complicit in promoting another political agenda wrapped up as 'factual entertainment'. Why do producers of low-rent factual features suddenly have a god-complex to rival the cockiest of documentary big hitters??

A session which promised to uncover 'the guts and innards of the commissioning process' was an excuse for filmmaker Lee Kern to make a name for himself as a Louis Theroux replacement. Real insight? He wouldn’t dare.

The McTaggart was entertaining but if Paxman wants to be our moral conscience then he should start with what he does best and invite Jana Bennett on Newsnight, armed with a copy of the BBC’s budget for last financial year.

Instead of hoarding 2000 telly-types up to Edinburgh to live in a bubble for three days, perhaps we should look at News International (yes, I'm serious) and what they do with the senior editorial staff at The Sun. Bus them to Butlins at Weston Super-Mare for a long weekend to mingle with their readers.

Me? I spent my Saturday in a Fringe Festival tent until the early hours getting drunk and talking to a kid from Dundee about TV fakery.

It was the first real person I had the pleasure of meeting all weekend.

WOW!! Who is this person?? My phone rang off the hook with speculation about the author's true identity. I have my own suspicions..... step forward Andrew Newman.

(PS. Annoyed that my session or T-shirts never get a mention. Does Herring bother to do ANY press work on my media brand these days?!)


Anonymous said...

Actually TVC there isn't a Butlins in Weston-super-Mare....but there is a Pontins at Brean, just a couple of miles down from Weston!

Anonymous said...

whoever wrote this - it's totally spot on. edinburgh is the tv industry's equivalent of a second had car salesmen convention. except none of them have swiss toni's excellent taste in ties.

Anonymous said...

I always return from the Edinburgh gang-bang with an acute sense of post-coital (self-)loathing.

Sick of making telly, sick of being in telly, sick of watching the fucker too. I even popped into Waterstone's yesterday to buy a book for the first time in years. Guess what? They're *all* written by people on the telly.

Fuck the lot of 'em. Except Diarmuid Gavin. Top lad.

Anonymous said...

For me the highlight was arch-cynic Kevin Lygo suddenly having a road to Damascus conversion and finding public-service religion all of a sudden.

Oh well, I suppose bonuses don't grow on trees.

Anonymous said...

It's not just Edinburgh, they're all like this. The Science Congress in Manchester last year seemed nothing more than a chance on the expenses book without the watchful eye of reporting lines.

And I am just as bad. I would ever stand and say what a state the BBC's commissioning system is in. How its unresponsive, tortuous and uncreative systems suck the marrow. How nobody knows who is responsible for what. How every other channel (yes, even other UK terrestrials) work at five or six times the speed of the BBC when commissioning. How other channels want to work with you, whilst the BBC doesn't even bother to respond to messages.

There's a revolution coming, and all the internal memos of Birtspeak won't save us at Shite City.

Head and sand, methinks. Time to jump ship.

Anonymous said...

Except Martin Durkin? That would be the Martin Durkin whose "Great Global Warming Swindle" was the biggest since, well, the last series of Horizon? One of whose interviewees found himself being badly misrepresented and selectively quoted?

Anonymous said...

The TVController's review of Edinburgh is hillarious.

A sanctimonious piece attacking others for not sticking their head above the parapet from someone who writes anonymously and doesn't have the bottle to tell the world who he is.

As well as being a hypocrite, you are a coward. No guts. No bottle.

Anonymous said...

uhh - TVC has hit home - someone has recognised him/herself in all of this and is 'outraged in Tunbridge Wells' - good work man!

Anonymous said...

Durkin certainly has strong views, though.

BigBro said...

I want a FUCKING t-shirt.

Anonymous said...

the edinburgh tv festival IS TRULY horrible and this article is pretty close to the reality. i was in the audience for lee kerns undercover film though and that was actually pretty good and close to the bone. paxmans speech was alright but would probably go down a lot better if he wasn't so pompous... the festival in general though is a strange event and i havent quite worked out WHAT its purpose is yet? i don't see what the point of all these "TV theory" lectures are for or about? just stop making crap surely??

oh, well - which festival is next?

Harriet Hamster said...

It was a cheap ploy to wheel out Paxman who trousers a million a year to tell execs where TV is wrong he is so removed from the coal face I felt Peter was using him for different reasons and had a seperate agenda (closer to home)
Paxo on the Front of Private Eye funny..but the speech not too good really and not convincing at all.

McCann what was all that about ?

I think the poorest festival for a long time and that's why few execs bothered to turn out.

Anonymous said...

it's always funny to see how many marketing, business and legal people attend edinburgh - as opposed to people who actually make films. at least in sheffield you can escape all the self-posturing and watch some exciting films.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nicko and Julia,

I sent £30 to an anonymous internet vendor for some eye-catching urban attire.

Have I got it yet? Have I bollox! Please despatch Paul Heiney to investigate.

This is just like that time I bought a kitchen from Mr Kitchen of Oldham. And a bride from Kiev. And a documentary from RDF.

Is no fucker trustworthy these days?

Anonymous said...

It must be hard for those who didn't get into Soho House over the weekend and will never be asked on the advisory committee...Well boohoo. This year's Festival has been the best yet, don't let your bitterness say otherwise.
I was there and people were hammering down the doors to get into certain sessions, the coverage in the newspapers was better than ever, and for a reason - it was well deserved! If you feel so concerned about it being shit I suggest you tell the people that run it, because so far on this blog it seems the bitter rejects of the best parties are having their say... I'll see you next year at The George then...

Anonymous said...

Re the above, are you that munter Emily Bell?

duckie said...

"A sanctimonious piece attacking others for not sticking their head above the parapet from someone who writes anonymously and doesn't have the bottle to tell the world who he is" - runs a comment from someone who doesn't have the bottle to tell the world who they are. Nothing like criticising from a position of weakness eh?

Most of the people who comment here appear to work in TV; I don't, but I have had the dispiriting experience of seeing 95% of programming turn to shit during my lifetime. So a special plea to you all, whatever your role - make some worthwhile telly for god's sake.

P.S. a note for directors and VT editors - sudden zooms and non-horizontal horizons are not edgy or modern, they're just fucking annoying. Stop it.