Channel Ten’s head of programming, David Mott has quit today, after a series of poor performing shows for the network. Here, Tim Burrowes – the man behind the media and advertising website, Mumbrella – talks about why we need to keep encouraging TV networks to take risks.
by TIM BURROWES
I always thought that being a footballer must be one of the worst jobs in the world. Having thousands of people watching you up close and howling at your every error.
If I tried to cope with that in my day job, my spelling would be even worse than it is already. But being a TV programmer must be worse.
There aren’t many gigs where millions of people judge your work every single day. Every morning at 8.30am, the ratings come through – and we all find out if they are dunces or geniuses.
Right now, it’s the turn of Ten’s David Mott in the firing line.[Editor’s note: David Mott has resigned as Ten’s head of programming today].This year, he took a chance on several new pieces of Australian-made programming and so far most of them have not fired. Which leaves the network struggling for audience share and facing dreadful headlines.
I’m part of that problem, by the way. I wait for the ratings to come in, looking for a winner or loser to write about.
Sometimes it’s easy to call. I must confess that after I watched the now axed Everybody Dance Now make its debut last Sunday night, I wrote the next day’s rating story that night and left gaps for the actual numbers – it was that obvious as a viewer that the show was going to flop.
Not just because of the content (Sarah Murdoch is just too nice a middle class woman to say “That’s off the hook” with anything approaching authenticity), but also because it was up against the final night of the Olympics.
The same happened the next night. The story was again written before the Everybody Dance Now ratings were in. This time, the flawed show and the competition from the first night of Big Brother combined.
I had a couple of meetings with TV people last week and the same question was: “What were they thinking?”
Not being idiots, I suspect there was a point between when Ten commissioned it from Fremantle Media and when it got made that it went astray. They must have realised before it went to air that they were up against it. Like Andrew Denton once said, nobody sets out to make bad television.
Speaking of Denton, he’s one of the brains behind Can Of Worms which returned for a second series on Ten on Monday night with a disappointing 590,000.
He’s also the front man of Randling which hasn’t done great numbers for the ABC. Which makes him sound like an idiot – until you add into the mix his co-creation of The Gruen Transfer and of course Enough Rope.