Tuesday, March 13, 2007

ITV Play gets shot.

- As the controversy over TV phone-ins continues, ITV have axed the ITV Play channel altogether - though they'll still run its shows overnight on ITV1 and ITV2.

The BBC's article seems to be trying to imply that ITV Play was taken off air because of the phone-in issue. Of course, the real concern with ITV Play was always completely different - questions that nobody could sanely be expected to answer, and the fact that the chances of getting on air were much, much less than viewers might think. According to MediaGuardian, the real reason ITV Play has been axed is that ITV have figured out it was only making money from the overnight shows on ITV1 and ITV2.

I tend to agree with one of the comments made on the MediaGuardian podcast a couple of weeks ago by Emily Bell (not that I'm recommending you subscribe, mind you - Gareth McLean must be the single least amusing man presently claiming to be a humourist in the United Kingdom). Television has traditionally had a relationship of trust with its viewers. Even in the multi-channel era, the terrestrial channels still had that. But broadcasters have moved on to viewing the audience as idiots to be milked for cash, hence the plethora of phone-in votes and dodgy quiz shows. ITV Play, as Emily Bell said, basically amounts to ITV setting up a table in the corner of your room and inviting you to play Find The Lady. At some point, viewers who still believed they had a relationship of trust with the broadcasters were bound to rebel against this. The fact that broadcasters didn't - and still don't - properly understand this is a sign of living in a media village bubble.

If you insist on treating the viewer as a customer, then it's not a good thing when the customer reaches the conclusion that you're a corrupt fraudster. The basic arrogance of the media lies in believing that nobody would ever catch on, because hey, everyone's doing it.

Of course, we mustn't forget the human tragedy of ITV Play's closure: people who've made a living by exploiting the poor and gullible will be out of work.

Who says karma is dead?