If I Ran A Commercial Network (Part Two)

RTL Television

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Continuing on from the previous post:

Fourth, Ratings are important but not everything.

The commercial networks are too hair-trigger with their cancellations. I find this terribly ironic since they also seem to not give a fig about consistent scheduling.

Still, they shuffle, promote, and withdraw programmes with lightning speed when the ratings don’t come up to scratch. This year alone, Nine has put the kibosh on programmes by Ben Elton (3 weeks, and admittedly it was dire but retooling never seemed to be on the cards) and Eddie McGuire (3 weeks & 3 weeks with two heavily marketed shows). Imports aren’t immune either. If you liked Medium or Supernatural or even Law & Order, you were hard pressed to find what time and even if they were airing, such was the speed at which they were scheduled and withdrawn.

As much as I take aim at NBC, the execs there are aware that very few shows come with a built-in audience, and that you have to allow them to grow. Should an executive be reading this and dismiss it with “why continue to air anything that no one is watching,” I’d like to refer him/her to the previous post about the basic and sacred agreement between network and viewer is.

Without a doubt the internet is reducing the audience, but the schedulers and programmers are themselves HASTENING that fragmentation.

This leads me to my controversial proposal.

Let some NZ networks broadcast in Australia and vice versa. Both Australian and NZ commercial corporations LOVE to scream poverty, so let’s relax any barrier prohibiting exclusively AUSTRALIAN & NZ based networks from broadcasting within each other’s territory. TV3  probably could whip Seven and Nine into shape as a competitor, and Ten would benefit from C4 as competition. TVNZ (despite losing its charter, thank you Uncle John) is still a state-owned entity and therefore would not be eligible, nor would AuntyABC & Aunty Mame (SBS).

This would bring the commercial FTA landscape in both countries to a total of 5 or 6 main broadcasters (I’m excluding the baby channels) and drawing on a combined viewing populace of close to 30 million.  Now, I would say without reservation that local and respective national news must be provided for with this expansion*, but amongst 6 broadcasters there would certainly be enough space as well as impetus to provide both domestic and international programming as well as consistent on-time scheduling.

*As well as adhering to broadcast standards in each country.

If this seems radical, then examine RTL and Canal + in Europe, both of which are examples of how to run successful international commercial channels. And if the Antipodean networks aren’t careful, then both of them will swoop in quicker than the Fremantle Doctor.



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