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tvtwintrees166 posts since 7 Sep 2001
Thats a very good point tvarksouthwest, had there stillbeen 15 individual regional ITVs, we could of ended up with 15 individual ITV1s that differentiated a lot after switchover - just like the old days.
noggin14,597 posts since 26 Jun 2001
GaryC posted:


ITV spend around 85M a year on regional news at the moment.

Alocating all the cost to just the weekday 6PM show; Thats 19,250 per day (for each of the 17 editions) or 320,000 for the lot - in network TV terms thats not a lot.


640,000 an hour is still quite a lot for non-drama, non-entertainment programming.

For comparison - most daytime shows are in the 50-70,000 per half-hour mark I believe, i.e. 100,000 to 170,000 an hour?

In fact looking at :

http://www.bbc.co.uk/annualreport/pdfs/bbcexec_eng.pdf

Page 73 as labelled (p79 in the pdf) suggests that the ITV regional news nationally costs more than the average of the most expensive BBC terrestrial genre - which is drama and costs 472,000 an hour, on average. (Though of course there will be cheaper and more expensive productions as this is an average.)

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In reality the GMTV, Morning, Lunch & Lates + Weekend service bring the 6-6:30PM cost down to 250,000 ish.


500,000 an hour is still not cheap.

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The ecomonic argument is NOT about the ratings and ad revenue for the show, but the overall value worth to the business.

The publc DO want local news and they want more than the just the BBC (trust in BBC news is at an all time low..for another topic..)
GaryC245 posts since 4 Jan 2003
of course it's not cheap, but 17 shows for 250k (500k pe hour) is not bank breaking in traditional TV terms.

Many people do not understand how much is spent on TV, so the figures are provided for context: 17 regional news shows cost a similar amount to mid-end drama/high end entertainment.

I've been told today that the 85M budget that ITV refer to for regional news includes allsorts of corporate overhead and facilities and management (that a drama/programme budget would not have to) and the cost for example of the Meridian/Thames Valley operation is a lot less.

Another point made to me is that with anyone paying near (+/- 10%) ratecard for regional ads in most areas; a new 2 minute local break + 1min local at the top of hour (eg: same local volume as westcountry sell now) would fund the programmes.

ITV use up ad capacity in a odd way for complex (and dull reasons) and regional sales teams have reported that they could sell 2/3 times the space if more flexiable options/pricing were available.

The bottom line is the cost of running regional news is NOT as prohibitive as ITV would like us to belive; they could make more regional cash via sales if they focussed on Ad limits with ofcom, not cutting obligations; and they STILL get huge value from their priority position and spectrum after digital switchover - a priority position awarded for public benifit.
Brekkie32,284 posts since 4 Jan 2003
GaryC posted:
of course it's not cheap, but 17 shows for 250k (500k pe hour) is not bank breaking in traditional TV terms.

Many people do not understand how much is spent on TV, so the figures are provided for context: 17 regional news shows cost a similar amount to mid-end drama/high end entertainment.

I've been told today that the 85M budget that ITV refer to for regional news includes allsorts of corporate overhead and facilities and management (that a drama/programme budget would not have to) and the cost for example of the Meridian/Thames Valley operation is a lot less.

Another point made to me is that with anyone paying near (+/- 10%) ratecard for regional ads in most areas; a new 2 minute local break + 1min local at the top of hour (eg: same local volume as westcountry sell now) would fund the programmes.



If it's that cheap there is no excuse to axe it.

And as you say, it probably could quite easily be self funding by just adding an add break to it - though knowing ITV they'd want this to be in addition to their current quota, but even that would be a price worth paying.
A former member
> but even that would be a price worth paying.

I have no problem with them adding another 5 minutes of ads per hour, across the board, if it means that the public service remit can be retained.

I have found this element curious for a while now -- it's OK to cost-cut, but not alright to add more advertising? What planet are Ofcom on?
noggin14,597 posts since 26 Jun 2001
GaryC posted:
of course it's not cheap, but 17 shows for 250k (500k pe hour) is not bank breaking in traditional TV terms.

Many people do not understand how much is spent on TV, so the figures are provided for context: 17 regional news shows cost a similar amount to mid-end drama/high end entertainment.



They seem to cost a significant amount more than that though...

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I've been told today that the 85M budget that ITV refer to for regional news includes allsorts of corporate overhead and facilities and management (that a drama/programme budget would not have to) and the cost for example of the Meridian/Thames Valley operation is a lot less.



Yep - those boring regional overheads include having regional buildings, regional studios, regional management and personnel etc. Drama can be commissioned from indies, or small in-house departments mainly staffed by freelances.

That is part and parcel of regional production - you have to have regional newsrooms and regional studios (most people think - though how difficult would it be for ITV to have 9 broom cupboard studios at Grays Inn Road for the 9 regional programmes?)

Presumably ITV are already cutting these overheads by closing studio centres, merging regions (Newbury and Abingdon merging to create Thames Valley) re-siting newsrooms without studios to smaller buildings, co-siting studios so that they can share management, technical and support staff etc.

There is also the corporate management to pay for - again co-ordinating regional news requires some centralised management - particularly if you are integrating with ITN network production (as ITV News now is)

This isn't an optional extra - it is part of the cost of supporting the news operation.

The BBC have similar overheads - regional buildings, English regions and Nations and Regions management etc.
GaryC245 posts since 4 Jan 2003
noggin: your taking the point in a very literal way! which is not like you. The key message is ITV regional news (even as it is now) is not that expensive in TV terms.

Of course regions have overhead, and that should be accounted for, but I am told there is a significant amount of spending that could be reduced.

The problem ITV have is a lack of direction in the business for regional affairs. Too much staff focus was spend on moving from the past (high cost/low rating regional commitments, duplication of tasks, legacy issues) then dealing with technology changes, now 'digital switchover'.

ITV have forgotten that regional shows can be a ratings winner (as they are in most equivalent tv markets worldwide) and a revenue earner.

A lack of clear direction gets you crap results. Applies to every business, in every industry.

If you must cut maybe some inventive thinking is needed: Rather than cut the number of editions down, why not record shows? Modern working practise can easily produce two or three editions on tight turnaround - most itv regions share crossover material anyway.

Do regional news shows need to be live? for special events, one show could be live anyway, and that could vary as demand dictates.

Would Border be best served with 10 min of 'local' news and lifestyle pap and sport for newcastle OR a full custom show produced from tyne tees but 100% relevent. Same for Westcountry.

It would achive a similar finacial saving for ITV but without the dire affect of viewers.
noggin14,597 posts since 26 Jun 2001
GaryC posted:
noggin: your taking the point in a very literal way! which is not like you. The key message is ITV regional news (even as it is now) is not that expensive in TV terms.


But I think this is a point we fundamentally DO disagree on. If the figures quoted are right - and the 1830 regional programme costs 250,000 each day for half an hour - then that IS expensive in TV terms.

It rates just-about-OK - but is the lowest rating of the 4 shows in the 1800-1900 BBC One/ITV slot (BBC Regions, BBC National, ITV National and ITV Regional are the ratings order from highest to lowest on average)

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Of course regions have overhead, and that should be accounted for, but I am told there is a significant amount of spending that could be reduced.


Yes - be interesting to know where this is. Most regional operations look and sound pretty basic these days - and certainly the studio production values are about as basic and cheap as you can get these days. Editing craft values seem to be in short supply, as do location camera skills. Doesn't look like they do much in the way of high quality OBs either. I realise I'm generalising - London Tonight and Thames Valley Tonight are my regular regions, though I spent a while watching Central News West and dip in and out of the other ITV regions on satellite every so often. (Though less so than I did now they are so cheap and not very cheerful)

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The problem ITV have is a lack of direction in the business for regional affairs. Too much staff focus was spend on moving from the past (high cost/low rating regional commitments, duplication of tasks, legacy issues) then dealing with technology changes, now 'digital switchover'.

Yes - I think ITV no longer sees regional production as a "core business" and once an organisation makes that kind of shift it is unlikely to reverse it.

Not sure technology changes are that much of an issue particular to ITV regional operations - all broadcasters across genres and whether national or regional have had those to deal with.

The shift from tape edited in suites to server with a split between craft and desktop editing is industry wide after all. Multiskilling has been increasingly widespread over the last 15 years, really ramping up over the last 10, in both field production (self shooting VJs, DV, automation and servers in galleries etc.)

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If you must cut maybe some inventive thinking is needed: Rather than cut the number of editions down, why not record shows?


Very dangerous route to go down for a news show. The selling point for a news programme - the very DNA of it - should be that it is the NEWest information on a subject. If you record a show it isn't News, it is history. If you do this during some times of the year your show will be broadcast in darkness when you have been interviewing someone "not live" outside in broad daylight.

What if a child that was missing when you recorded your show is found alive, or someone who is critically ill in hospital dies?

Recording a regional magazine show is fine - recording a regional news show is really dodgy.

Recorded news is like a newspaper, out of date before you start watching or reading.

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Modern working practise can easily produce two or three editions on tight turnaround - most itv regions share crossover material anyway.


Yep - and in theory you could do what NY One and other cable channels do - record the links and bolt them to the packages already ingested. Then you could record a show in much less time than its running time. Totally removes atmosphere and in some ways reduces the production value.

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Do regional news shows need to be live? for special events, one show could be live anyway, and that could vary as demand dictates.


If they are news shows then yes. If they become featurery magazine shows then possibly not.

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Would Border be best served with 10 min of 'local' news and lifestyle pap and sport for newcastle OR a full custom show produced from tyne tees but 100% relevent. Same for Westcountry.

Depends what you mean by "best served". Personally I think that recording a sub-opt news bulletin for split regions is unacceptable, and a pan regional bulletin would be better, unless the sub-opt is featurey not newsy. However features cost more - so they won't make more of these than they need, and are likely to fill the sub-opts with library pictures, stills, maps, OOVs and some dodgy VJ wobblevision packages...

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It would achive a similar finacial saving for ITV but without the dire affect of viewers.


I suppose it depends whether ITV want a news programme or a features one.
GaryC245 posts since 4 Jan 2003
I would not personally advocate non-live news; but i think it is a question worth raising: Is live THAT vital on regional shows like westcountry & border? Sky Sports News & Setanta both record overnight.

Could always have a ticker all show and and a crash-in point at the end of the show for breaking news.

As to the setup, a TV senior producer who freelances for us suprised me with her take on ITV regions: she is very experianced in network TV, and with a bit of a beeb background I would have thought she would find the ITV operations understaffed and underfunded - she's quite traditional.

Far from finding the ITV setup (I won't name the regions..) underfunded she was amazed at how unproductive it all was

- How resouces like craft editors were used on the wrong things.
- Little use of VJ's
- Very Poor forward planning
- Wrong people in the wrong jobs
- Many talented staff fustrated at lack of direction & help
- Little editorial review or direction; no clue what the viewer wants.
- Reporters/newsdesk doing a third of the work that someone at SKY/ITN would do per shift.
- Programme producers who would not make runner on a big brother

Whilst the studios may be pokey (that cookie cutter Jago set does not help) the kit is good quality and has flexability that does not show on screen. Her opinion is you could double the budget on only see 1% improvement. Crap managment from ITV News Group down to local level.

I was suprised that a TV traditionalist was so critical of waste and inactivity.

As a sidebar: I did not know NY1 records the links!
noggin14,597 posts since 26 Jun 2001
GaryC posted:
I would not personally advocate non-live news; but i think it is a question worth raising: Is live THAT vital on regional shows like westcountry & border? Sky Sports News & Setanta both record overnight.


But sports news is not the same as news news - and with the exception of major events (the Olympics, World Cup Football) and some sporting events (cricket and rugby) in timezone on the other side of the world, sports news usually only develops during the day and not much happens overnight.

The same is not true of regional news at 1830 - when there are still major news stories that can develop whilst you are on-air or close to air.

I can just see it if the person you've just described as being in a critical condition in hospital in your recording, died 30 mins before TX ... Or a significant incident happened in your region whilst the show was on-air - light aircraft / helicopter crash, local MP announces resignation just before transmission etc.

If you record your "flagship" bulletin at 1830 - then you can't really call yourselves a news broadcaster with any honesty can you?

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Could always have a ticker all show and and a crash-in point at the end of the show for breaking news.

Mainstream viewers HATE tickers. A crash opt-point might just work - though would be difficult to engineer in production terms.

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As to the setup, a TV senior producer who freelances for us suprised me with her take on ITV regions: she is very experianced in network TV, and with a bit of a beeb background I would have thought she would find the ITV operations understaffed and underfunded - she's quite traditional.

Far from finding the ITV setup (I won't name the regions..) underfunded she was amazed at how unproductive it all was


That doesn't surprise me at all. BBC network and regions are much leaner production operations than many in the industry think - particulary in bulletin production and transmission.

Of course the BBC have more outlets to call on regional colleagues for material than ITV (who have no radio outlets, no news channel, not much of a news website etc.) - and the BBC have run their regional studios on lower staffing levels than ITV for years AIUI.

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- How resouces like craft editors were used on the wrong things.

Yep - often problems evolve if you introduce desktop editing, but instead of it being deployed on a "best fit for the treatment" basis, it is deployed on a "best fit for the staff" basis. So you end up with craft editors cutting OOVs for producers who can't drive the desktop editor, whilst a competent journalist who can desktop edit is left to cut a package on their desktop, which they shouldn't have to.

Training is key.

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- Little use of VJ's

Yep - though some would say that some BBC operations are overusing VJs. I'm fed up of poorly shot, poorly miced stuff that is bright blue or orange and wobbly...

There is a historic back story for this in ITV though - as a lot of ITV regions have deals with local news agencies, who provide their own crews some times. Inefficient and expensive in some cases - but "it's the way it has always been done" is a mantra often heard.

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- Very Poor forward planning

Yep - and how much is co-ordinated with ITN in London? The BBC regions talk to Newsgathering at least once a day about stuff on a conference call, and all the time on ENPS. Are all the ITV regions and ITN on the same ENPS system yet - or are some ITV stations using iNews etc.
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- Wrong people in the wrong jobs

Not just an ITV thing - though how often do ITV people move between regions and ITN. That is one thing the BBC is good at doing - exploiting its scale as a single company. It is possible to work in the regions, in network, outside news, in radio, in TV all in a single career without leaving the BBC - how much mobility is possible in ITV at the moment?
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- Many talented staff fustrated at lack of direction & help

Quite a lot of that at the BBC at the moment...
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- Little editorial review or direction; no clue what the viewer wants.
- Reporters/newsdesk doing a third of the work that someone at SKY/ITN would do per shift.

Doesn't surprise me.
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- Programme producers who would not make runner on a big brother

That sounds about right...
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Whilst the studios may be pokey (that cookie cutter Jago set does not help) the kit is good quality and has flexability that does not show on screen.

The kit is OK quality - and certainly not massively inferior to the current BBC English regional model - though AIUI cuts have been made in some places that can be heard and seen on camera where the Beeb have made decisions that are less visible. Some ITV regions do seem to have de-skilled massively - with poor craft skills in cameras, lighting and sound used.

The Jago set does exactly what ITV wanted - unified branding with a lowest common denominator space requirement.

Very difficult to argue that London Tonight and Thames Valley Tonight look better now than London Tonight from The London Studios, and Meridian from Newbury, looked though. (Different argument I realise)

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Her opinion is you could double the budget on only see 1% improvement. Crap managment from ITV News Group down to local level.

I was suprised that a TV traditionalist was so critical of waste and inactivity.


Having craft skills, experience and a decent grounding (and common sense for that matter) is not the same as being blinkered and having no eye on the way the industry is developing.
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As a sidebar: I did not know NY1 records the links!

Yep - NY1 is a strange beast. They prerecord the studio links onto the VTs they are linking in to (to avoid the wrong link being played out into the wrong VT etc), and then the combined "Link + VT" is played out automatically. They only refresh the links when the news changes, or the presenter changes.