What Irks TV execs about the industry.

Position::What Irks TV Execs

We all know what we love about this business--that's why we're here in Cannes, right? (And we do all love Cannes, especially at MIPCOM, don't we?!).


So, it takes a particularly brave person to come out and say what he or she doesn't like about this business. VideoAge spoke with a few of these courageous folks. Others, possibly because of the large number of dislikes that come up, ultimately "didn't feel comfortable talking" about any of them.

American-born Don Taffner Jr. grew up in this business--his father was a pioneer and legend of the early international television business (even though he didn't like VideoAge, erroneously thinking that it caused the demise of the old-timers' favorite TV/RadioAge)--and so the chairman of the U.K.'s DLT Raydar Rights has seen it develop over a long period of time. And he wasn't shy about sharing: "The thing I dislike about the modern business is the way it is now all about numbers; creative people are being replaced by widget sellers. Once people running the channels were all creative; people who had grown up making programs." Taffner lamented the fact that "now, channels are increasingly run by people who have grown up counting the cost of making programs."

He also believes that, "this change can be seen at markets such as MIP and MIPCOM. In the 1980s you would have meetings that lasted, possibly, up to an hour. And, more importantly, people made decisions--they agreed to deals. Now meetings are much shorter and the best you can hope for is that the buyer will go home and ask Business Affairs if they can do the deal they want to."

Paul Heaney, managing director of the U.K.'s TCB Rights, also shared this observation. "So much of what you hear at a market like MIPCOM is just talk. You come out of a meeting thinking you have a deal and weeks later you discover that you don't--and you never did," Heaney noted. He also said, "knowing what is for real and what isn't is down to the sales person, their understanding of the market, their instinct and their personal relationship with the buyer. But the truth is that a lot of people wearing 'buyers' badges' are really just squirrels--all they really do is run around collecting nuggets of information on what is available and on what sort of terms."

Like Taffner, Heaney also sees negative consequences to these developments. "For one thing, channels will increasingly buy shows for the wrong reasons--because they have the right number of episodes or the deal...

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