You’re Only As Good As…

It’s been a crappy week so far.  First the death of the gorgeous Lis Sladen, and then yesterday I learned that my radio production company (the oldest in the UK) had been denied the right to pitch/produce a certain style of documentaries for BBC Radio 4 for the next 2 years.  We’ve been succesfully making these sorts of docs since 1992…they are the core of what we do…but now, like afternoon plays 2 years ago, we’re off the list!


Well, it seems you are only as good as your last…erm…well, it can’t be success.  Our docs have garnered critical praise and listener admiration.  Some have even won awards.  We are told that, in a couple of instances, our previous docs weren’t “admired”…but they were admired by the press, the audience and our fellow producers.  So it was only the network chiefs who didn’t like them?  I wonder who we are REALLY trying to make programmes for? The commissioners or the stakeholders who pay the bill every year (you and me!)

So, suddenly, I am looking at a £30,000 per year loss in work.  I have 6 producers and 10 presenters no longer earning.  My company loses some credibility.  I wonder if I can pay the mortgage.  It’s not like there’s anyone else out there paying money to have these docs produced – if only the UK government would allow some kind of competition in the speech radio market, but alas, they may look like they hate the BBC, but I promise you, they are all cronies together.

So I am angry, and upset, and frustrated.  “You are rewarded for loyalty and success” makes me laugh, almost as much as every time talent asks me “So surely they’ll pay us more for this considering the success of the last thing?”  Ha ha ha, really? Go ask them.  It is ever diminishing budgets, ever increasing rights packages and ever insulting BBC-independent producer relationships.

Are we still producing kick-ass, award winning, top-class, critically acclaimed radio programmes and series?  Damn right we are.  Just check out “Russia: The Wild East” on R4 right now.  Ridiculous praise and press.  But will that translate in to more commissions for 2012-13.  I have a sinking sensation.

The BBC already hates having to deal with radio indies.  They are now pushing aggressively for the smaller and medium sized indies to shut down, so they only have to deal with 5 or 10 super-indies.  And then BBC Radio will be where BBC TV is…with the occassional superb production, in amongst the cookie-cutter production line nonsense.

We’ll persevere, but we’ll push even harder through our Spokenworld Audio sister company to producer, publish, sell and even commission new audio that goes straight to market.  It is high time the BBC were removed from their place of privilege and reminded that other people know what they are talking about, too.  So, here’s to the BBC, may it remain a bastion of UK creative arts.  But now comes the time of the independent commissioner and publisher…we may not have the free access to cash from the licence fee, but we’ll get the best and the brightest to work with us because OUR CREATIVITY IS STRONG!

About hokusbloke
30-something radio producer/director/writer, owner & MD of Ladbroke Productions (the UK's oldest independent radio production company). Lover of far fetched fiction, scifi and fantasy, my cats and all thinks tech. I am also the Chair of the Radio Independents Group, a former Trustee of the Radio Academy, and a Fellow of the RSA. I co-wrote, produced and directed Robert Rankin's "The Brightonomicon" audio series, produce Dr Who audiobooks for the BBC, and directed several sci-fi radio plays for BBC Radio 4 in 2009. I am a strong advocate for more SF audio and radio...keep watching this space for upcoming news!

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