Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Roll Up, Roll Up for Jade-Inspired Circus

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Roll Up, Roll Up for Jade-Inspired Circus

Article excerpt

It is time to offer due praise to poor, put-upon Jade Goody. Far too many glib people have accused her, probably falsely, of racism as a result of her performance earlier this year on 'Celebrity' Big Brother.

She may have come across as crass, boorish, bullying and inarticulate when she appeared on the leading programme of one of the UK's premier public-service broadcasters, but what the hell, it's not exactly unusual behaviour in this country these days. After all, there are more bleeps than audible words in some editions of Wife Swap on Channel 4, with most people having become very adroit at filling in the blanks and not even bothering to complain. But Jade's contribution is truly exceptional, and it's difficult to think of anyone, short of Sir Jeremy Isaacs, Channel 4's first chief executive, who has had more influence on the future direction of the channel.

With the help of trademark 'light-touch' regulation from Ofcom, and the odd limerick, Goody has single-handedly created a new system of compliance and accountability. No one else, with the possible exception of former BBC director-general Greg Dyke, has achieved such a thing in recent years.

Her greatest achievement, which cannot be underestimated, has been to revive Channel 4's Right To Reply. The broadcaster used to set great store by the fact that it had a programme that enabled its viewers to make trenchant points about its shows, often via the 'Video Box'. It was also the only programme Channel 4 ever made in-house.

Then, in April 2001, the channel told its viewers to clear off. They could send in their complaints via email, which made it much easier to totally ignore them, and the vacated airtime could be used instead for a nice little earner from Hollywood.

The fact that Right To Reply is coming back as a monthly, rather than a weekly, show will seem like tokenism to some, but there are always whingers. It's only a small part of an enormous new circus clearly designed to ensure that Big Brother can continue to earn zillions for the channel forever.

Channel 4 has also created an executive role - viewers' editor - to ensure that the audience's perspective is included in the editorial decision-making process. As the role doesn't yet exist, a logical person might wonder how much weight 'the viewers' perspective' receives at the moment. There will be a 'new' formal early-warning system to pick up unusual numbers of complaints - clearly, the post-April 2001 email processes haven't worked that well. …

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