Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Commissioning Code of Conduct

Whilst I am all for greater co-operation and understanding between people like me and people like them, I do think McVay and his feeble PACT chums have taken a rather over-the-top approach to that delicate relationship between over-stressed Commissioner and thoroughly-expendable Worker, with this new, frankly ridiculous code of conduct:

FROM: john.mcvay@pact.co.uk
TO: roly@corporation1.co.uk; roly@corporation2.co.uk; TVC01@corporation.co.uk; janice@corporation4.co.uk; jbellamy@channelfour.co.uk; grade@itv.com; ben.gale@five.tv
CC: woolfster@skyone.com; youngspunk@itv2.com; jhunt_tv_flirt@hotmail.com
DATE: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 09:38:12 +0100
SUBJECT: CCC (Commissioning Code of Conduct)

Dearest colleagues,

I think I've managed to fudge together a code of conduct that will appease the moaning freelance industry just enough to let bygones continue to be bygones. Have a read and if there's anything you really object to, let me know ASAP.

We've got to do a press launch for this next Tuesday. I know it's a little embarrassing, but any takers to be on the podium alongside me?

Once again, I am sorry it has come to this. I would never - dear God - lay blame at your doors directly for this, but perhaps you would be so kind as to instruct your underlings (for whom I think this is really intended) to take heed of the concerns that the insecure indie sector has on matters like this.

Your humble TV champion,

PS Can one of you please remind James Herring he's not allowed to print the CCC on the back of t-shirts and distribute freely at this year's Edinburgh TV Festival? Cheers

Pact directive 14.3.5(b)
*ratified in accordance with the Broadcasting Act 1996 by PACT board in consultation with Broadcasting organisations within the British Isles & beyond

1. Thou (meaning "the Commissioner") shall not dismiss ideas pitched by producers outright without proper and careful engagement. This means actually listening properly and intently to said idea before rejecting it out of hand based on some lazy outdated or personal idiosyncrasy to do with concept or approach to subject matter

2. Thou shall refrain from obsessive use of meaningless jargon to cover up your complete lack of knowledge and purpose in knowing the type of programmes your boss expects you to commission

3. Thou shall show proper respect (smiling upon arrival, saying hello, shaking hands, making eye contact, remembering everyone's name) to each and every member in attendance at an ideas meeting, no matter how junior and irrelevant they may appear to be

4. Thou shall not use mobile digital devices (such as blackberry's, PDAs, 3G phones etc) during edit viewings, and instead appear keen and alert to the programme you are watching in order to substantiate your important feedback and comments at the end of said viewing

5. Thou shall not make half-baked and ignorant suggestions of 'talent' to front landmark programmes you have commissioned and expect knowledgeable producers to have to deal with your naive wishlists, thus avoiding a huge amount of time and money wasted in the pre-production process

6. Thou shall never offer commissions to preferential producers or directors based on private agreements or 'favours' following previous commissions or places of employment

7. Thou shall not stagger into an edit suite all gung-ho munching on a stinking donor kebab and slugging down a bottle of Kingfisher lager at 11am because you genuinely think it puts you in "the mindset of the youth target audience watching this after the pubs have shut in some shitheap like Rochdale"

8. Thou shall remember that the people who provide you with shows are freelancers who would like to know sooner rather than later whether you will be able to commission their next six-month contract so that they will not go begging to their mortgage lenders looking extremely desperate and weak

9. Thou shall not flirt with the executive producer or series producer in order to cover up your failures at commissioning stage when the shit appears to be hitting the fan during final weeks of the edit

10. Thou shall demonstrate during pitch meetings that you are proud to think independently from your channel controller and are prepared to take risks and stake your beliefs clearly and confidently; that you posses 'balls' in other words by being brave enough not to refer every single idea up the food chain of television command

11. Thou shall appreciate the great lengths your freelance independent producers go to bring you hard-to-achieve access, and show understanding of the intricate difficulties and stresses involved for all footsoldiers involved in gaining said access.

12. Thou shall never reject an idea with the excuse that it is too similar to something else in production, when clearly you have merely run out of ways to say no to a perfectly feasible idea. Nor shall thou patronise the vastly experienced producer by worrying whether his/her ideas will "rate" highly enough for your mediocre and underperforming channel

13. Upon the unlikely event that you have commissioned a hit show, thou shall resist the temptation to heap praise and champagne on the Executive Producer, and instead give the proper credit due to the footsoldiers who have slogged their guts out, cut their weekly rates, and put their homelife on hold in order to deliver the show on time and on budget (and against the odds) thereby saving your arse and keeping you gainfully employed for another year

SIGNED (Commissioning editor/Executive)....................
DATE .............................