Hardest to Face

For producers and distribs desperate to cut a deal, all broadcasters are tough. But, some are more of a challenge than others.
December 1, 2002

Which broadcaster is the most difficult to face and why?

At the end of 2002, few independent doc-makers were feeling warm and fuzzy toward broadcasters. Several pollees had some choice words for programmers collectively.

‘A very difficult species altogether,’ opined one respondent. ‘Lack of self-confidence is covered with arrogance, which particularly hits independent outsiders, i.e., producers, distributors.’ Said another, ‘With few exceptions, they are all quite onerous and difficult. However, it must be pointed out that in the final analysis they are not directly responsible for this general behavior. [It's] most likely due to the higher-ups who keep insisting that their front-line employees need to do more with less in the name of efficiency, productivity and all those other brilliant yet vacuous catchphrases.’

Of the outlets named by survey respondents, the BBC earned the most votes – 20%. According to several survey-takers, the size and scale of the Beeb make it forbidding. Comments included ‘the BBC [is] almost too powerful and so can dictate terms’ and ‘you never know when they are going to discover that they’re already doing an in-house project similar to yours’.

PBS and Discovery tied for second, capturing 14% of the vote each. Poll participants were particularly distressed by the magnitude and complexity of these organizations. Some remarks about PBS were: ‘Huge bureaucracy – the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing’ and ‘they would rather fund the tried-and-true than the up-and-coming’. Dish on Discovery included ‘too much red tape, lack of vision’ and ‘it’s become a monster of a business with so many networks with similar target demos’.

Only one survey respondent was philosophical: ‘They’re all difficult and easy to handle at the same time. Who isn’t difficult?’

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