I want to write and tell stories.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Wonder no more........

...as to why new shows have it so tough downunder. This article relates to Channel 9 here in Oz. Think CBS, NBC as relative comparison(only in percentages, not actually size). ABC here is our Public Broadcaster, think PBS(I presume), CBC, BBC as comparison.

New Drama development budget down from $1million to $100K.

WTF are you going to get with $100K?

Enjoy, don't cry too much.

PS also interesting about the battles fought inside the TV network.


Why Sandra Levy has had enoughWhen the programmer traded the ABC for Nine, she got less than she bargained for, Errol Simper reports

March 16, 2006

SANDRA Levy was Sam Chisholm's trophy. The Nine Network's then boss didn't poach the ABC's former director of television because he desperately needed her.With no great love for the ABC or its managing director Russell Balding, Chisholm pinched Levy because he could and because he figured it would weaken a rival broadcaster.

Levy, who left her position as Nine's head of program development on March 10 - after just six months at Nine - to become a drama consultant for the network, was a disillusioned trophy almost from the beginning. Her move from the ABC didn't work and, sources say, never looked like working.

Her abrupt, unexpected change of workplace didn't succeed on any level. Chisholm had wooed Levy with pledges of vast, if unquantified, riches with which to make the kind of programs that would all but obliterate the Packer-controlled network's commercial rivals. The reality was that Nine was reluctant to grant Levy even a secretary or personal assistant.

Levy's prime interest has always been drama. Conveniently, Nine's head of drama, Posie Graeme-Evans, was swept from office within a few weeks of Levy joining. But the money Levy envisaged Nine was preparing to spend never materialised. As Chisholm cut costs, there always seemed to be a financial hitch. Money for creative purposes came to resemble a desert mirage. Levy is said to have concluded within six weeks at Nine that her practical, day-to-day role bore little relation to the job description painted for her by Chisholm. It seemed to be less about creativity and ideas than about fast ratings and a quick buck.

Levy didn't even feel needed. She is said to have rapidly discerned that the independent program producers who mattered had long ago forged channels through which to approach Nine with programming ideas, not least to its chief scheduler, Michael Healy, or Chisholm. Thus she could easily be by-passed, her bulging contact book all but useless.

There was also a culture clash. It's understood Levy had been at Nine only a few weeks before she was being asked what was coming up in the way of new, ratings-friendly program ideas. Levy, as a drama producer for the Southern Star group and as head of programming at the ABC, was used to developing projects over time and with some care. Levy liked to view pilots and to review and revise scripts. At the ABC she was wont to assess material, do a critique, then send producers back to the drawing board to get it how she wanted it. She found it difficult to sell this concept to executive colleagues at Nine.

Almost as a retaliation against such elitist principles, her development budget is said to have suddenly shrunk from a projected $1 million to $100,000. Nine simply wanted ratings-winning material and it wanted it yesterday.

The sharp-tongued, polarising Levy is also said to have had regrets at the personal level; in terms of her working environment. She found Nine just as political as the ABC had been.
The work environment was no small factor. Because Levy, 59, had told the then managing director of the ABC, Jonathan Shier, she'd resign as director of program development if she didn't become head of television in the wake of Gail Jarvis's abrupt resignation in June 2001. Shier promptly appointed Levy to what is effectively the corporation's No.2 position. But it was a rough road to travel. Levy, along with other executives - notably the then head of news and current affairs, Max Uechtritz - found Shier difficult to work with. He lacked a public broadcasting background, his decision-making was erratic and his fuse was short. The ABC became faction-ridden and internal political skills became as important as job competence.
Well-placed sources suggest Levy almost immediately experienced an uncomfortable, disconcerting feeling of deja vu at Chisholm's Nine. Having replaced David Gyngell in May, Chisholm had promptly informed several people the network had more individuals trying to run the place than the European Union had bureaucrats in Brussels. Out went senior people such as the news director, Uechtritz (who had preceded Levy in defecting to Nine), Glenn Pallister (the head of variety programming), Steve Wood (in charge of daytime television), Stuart Clark (director of lifestyle and reality programming), Paul Barry (a well-regarded 60 Minutes reporter), Graeme-Evans and numerous other Nine stalwarts with less public profiles. Some insiders claim Chisholm's decision-making process began to resemble that of Shier.
Employees spoken of in glowing terms on the Wednesday were unceremoniously fired on the Friday as Chisholm racked up what some estimate as about $20 million worth of redundancy payouts.

In short, Nine often had a similar atmosphere to that which Levy had experienced at the ABC under Shier and she enjoyed very little of it. She had made up her mind to go long before the more popular Eddie McGuire took over from Chisholm last month. Levy is said to have told McGuire she wanted to leave during their first meeting. McGuire is understood to have pressed her to reconsider. They compromised on a consultancy. They'll talk again.

The question some have been asking is whether Levy is due to eventually resurface at the ABC, this time as its managing director. And the job she has eyed from time to time became available in January when Balding announced he would leave later this month to become chief executive of the Sydney Airport Corporation. Though Levy may like the job, there are at least two solid reasons she won't get, and probably won't seek, the position.
Levy has been unavailable to Media this week but you can assume, with some certainty, she'd agree to be Balding's successor only on her terms. She's believed to have strong reservations about some recent ABC boardroom machinations. And the board is extremely likely to have strong reservations about the waspish Levy.

Whatever her perceived faults, Levy is credited with loyalty to the fundamental concept of independent public broadcasting. Strangely enough, that may not be seen as a strength just now at board level. There's a pervasive view that after five years of calm and stability under Balding, a strongly political, right-leaning board is in the mood for what some bluntly refer to as "a head-kicker". Levy is quite capable of kicking heads. But she'd be unlikely to kick them to order. This is a board that was extremely unlikely to have granted the accommodating, pragmatic, apolitical, competent Balding a second contract. The likelihood of it now endorsing an outspoken, single-minded former Balding executive as its managing director of choice is pretty well beyond the bounds of all reasonable credibility.

Suggesting future boards may want to consider the national broadcaster accepting advertising, Communications Minister Helen Coonan told yesterday's The Bulletin: "It won't be the same ABC it is today in a year's time. We are in for some very exciting changes."
It's unlikely that Levy would ditch the concept of commercial-free, independent public broadcasting. She probably won't even enter the starting-stalls.


At 4:08 pm, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

I heard about cyclone Larry, are you guys ok down there?????????????????????????/

At 4:16 pm, Blogger Grubber said...

Okay is a relative question. My wife oftens wonders that about me often:)

Not too bad, some injuries, fair bit of property damage. Lots of trees down, roofs off, snakes and alligators seeking alternate accommodation. Things like that. Thank goodness no deaths. They have fairly rigorous building codes in those areas (about 1400km north of where I am, same state though).

Farms have coped a battering though, lots of crops whiped out, but no deaths so can't complain too much.
thanks for the thoughts!

At 4:17 pm, Blogger Grubber said...

strike whichever often in that first paragraph you prefer :) (rolling eyes)


Post a Comment

<< Home

free website hit counter