At last, the faceless yes-monkeys get what’s coming to them.

networksI confess, nothing in this world brings a sparkle to my jaded eye on an overcast Monday morning in Los Angeles quite like hearing that the television industry is in trouble, with ratings in the toilet, executives being canned, and advertisers fleeing like kids from a burning orphanage.

It feels so right somehow. Like justice, or something.

The Wrap website today features the first part of a series of articles about the decline and predicted extinction of  TV as we know it. It’s worth reading.

TV executive

Out of work TV executive

Speaking as someone who’s worked in TV on both sides of the Atlantic and been forced to deal with ghastly weasels who call themselves producers, as well as slimey, two-faced network executives with zero scruples or backbone, it gives me the greatest pleasure to witness karma at work as these rats are slowly, year upon year, flushed from the plush, carpeted, five-star drains they’ve been cowering in for so long and out into the open job market.

Television is changing for good. Having destroyed their industry by flooding the schedules increasingly with cheap, annoying, sensationalist and ultimately no-quality product, the suits are now finding – surprise surprise – that viewers are drifting away, searching for something more productive to do with their time, taking advertisers, and therefore budgets, with them.  

Howard Stern this morning declared the end of TV as we know it, blaming a string of lousy and misguided executive decisions that focused on pandering to the mindless youth demographic of this country rather than producing quality shows. And he’s right.  HBO and a couple of other cable networks are the lone wolves in the quality TV department. Everyone else has thrown in the towel. (Need an example? See Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami.)    

My next door neighbor is on the board of HBO. He’s an incredibly smart man. If the rest of his colleagues are like him, it’s no wonder the network is thriving.

Sadly, he’s an isolated case. Most executives are not that astute. Usually, when we see these people sitting in their fancy corner offices making multi-million dollar deals, we assume they got where they are because they’re brilliant at what they do, when in fact, all too often, the exact opposite is true.

Kath and Kim

Kath and Kim

Look at the way Ben Silverman brought NBC to its creative knees with a string of appalling shows that were cancelled either during or, if they made it that far, at the end of the first season, never to reappear: Kath and Kim, My Own Worst Enemy, Knight Rider, Crusoe, Kings, Life, Lipstick Jungle….

Ghastly, every last one of them. Who on earth would ever think we’d want to sit and watch this trash? Oh, wait – Ben Silverman did. This is the trail of devastation he left behind him when he left.

My own experience of working with TV people confirms that they’re anything but the geniuses we have them down for. Most are faceless yes-monkeys, slaves to focus group findings and marketing surveys, whose main aptitude seems to be for manipulation, deceit and lying; everything else – judgment, creative ability, decisive action, vision, etc; stuff that really matters – is either secondary or non-existent.

A TV executive has one main priority: to keep his job as a TV executive and not get fired for making bad decisions. That’s it. If a show’s a hit, claim it as your own; if it flops, keep your head down and move on to the next thing. To hell with what’s actually good and worthwhile or what raises the bar and advances the medium.

So I applaud the dire prospects of the TV industry. And I absolutely love that the fall-out is taking many of the yes-monkeys with it.

Now, having said that, I will hand the baton jubilantly over to Josef Adalian at The Wrap for his analysis of the devastation that is taking place.   

“Network TV may be a cyclical business — but for bruised and battered broadcasters battling the worst economy in a generation, there’s little evidence to suggest a bounce back is in the cards any time soon.

If anything, things could get a lot worse before they get better. Some observers are even beginning to question whether there will ever be a turnaround, predicting that business model which has sustained broadcasters for close to 60 years has begun an irreversible decline.

The latest blow: A disastrous upfront advertising market that saw revenues plunge an estimated 15 percent from last year, dropping from $9.2 billion in 2008 to around $7.8 billion, according to estimates by several publications….”

Read the FULL article HERE.

TV Swami – he say YES to the demise of television, even though he’ll have nothing left to review on the BBC if it crashes.

www.cashpeters.com   

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2 Comments

Filed under Television commentary

2 responses to “At last, the faceless yes-monkeys get what’s coming to them.

  1. I really tried to like Kath and Kim (Aussie origins like my hubby) but I couldn’t. Shame really because I like Selma Blair. I do like Better Off Ted (even if Jay Harrington will insist on keeping his kit on distressingly). But then I also like Man vs. Wild (Born Survivor), any of the Real Housewives shows, and I even got sucked into NYC Prep (latter ones on Bravo).

    Know what I enjoy immensely even though there’s no “hot guys” or plots or dialogue? “How It’s Made” – fascinating to see the steps that have to be taken to bring us quite ordinary things – baseboard heaters or bicycle locks for example. You get a real appreciation for the workers and too designers who put this cornucopia of things before us to pick from as needed. 🙂

    • I’m not saying there aren’t superb shows out there – and some of them are indeed the simplest and even the cheapest. It’s the spirit behind them that matters. Most shows are focus-grouped to death and most executives are too scared to back their gut, preferring instead to say yes to stuff that is substandard but which, by all the omens, is a winner. That’s how we ended up in the pickle we’re in. It’s Spinelessness 101. But you’re right. And Better Off Ted is one of the best ever.

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