What is life like in a TV station? Is it like most people
think, a world of glamour and glitz, or is it a workplace like anywhere else
where you have to labour away for at least eight hours a day or longer?
Unfortunately, it’s the latter. Not much fun and nose to the grindstone from the
time you enter the station doors until you drag yourself away. That’s only part
of the story. There are always the personal fights going on, the jealousy, the
plotting and sometimes love affairs that shouldn’t be happening. OK, let’s find
out and look behind the scenes at station Ind.1. The only non-aligned,
independent TV broadcaster in the country.
- part sample
Three senior station executives eased themselves into the
chairs around the table in the boardroom situated in the middle of the building
behind the control rooms. There was an air of gloom in the atmosphere because
something had to be done. The men were the station manager, advertising
manager and programme director and they had come together because a situation
had developed that threatened disaster. It was the ratings. The numbers had just
come out and ratings were down in almost all of their current programmes.
‘We’re losing advertisers every day,’ said the station
manager, Clive Betz. ‘This can’t go on or we’re doomed. Our jobs will be on the
line and we can’t have that. We have to weed out the problem here and now and
‘The problem as I see it,’ said the advertising manager,
David Turnpike, ‘is our current choice of programming. We’re losing viewers by
the hundreds of thousands and that causes advertisers to pull ads every day.’
The first two speakers looked sharply at the programme
director, Bruce Gibson, who protested it wasn’t entirely his fault.
‘Much of it is because of the Australian TV licensing
laws,’ he complained. ‘We have to have a large percentage of local production
and that allied with costs usually boils down to quiz shows, cooking comps and
building renovations. So much so the public have become heartily sick of the
whole parade of similar shows on just about every TV station in the country, and
we seem to be copping it worse than all the others combined,’ Gibson concluded
‘What’s the answer then? We have to do something,’
said the station manager, ‘or the board will have our guts for garters. Sport
generally is OK but that’s only one section. There’s many more hours to fill
‘My men in the field have been asking advertising
executives what the public wants,’ said Turnpike. ‘The answer has been
comedy. Evidently a lot of the current local programming has had its day.
Even imported police and crime shows are becoming unpopular. On the other hand,
the old comedy shows made many years ago still resonate with viewers and rate
well, such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley and Keeping up
‘All Pommy productions,’ said Betz, ‘but you’re right, no
doubt about it, but could we match them here with local stuff which would be
just as funny?’
‘We’ll have to find out,’ said Gibson, ‘and if you’ll
excuse me I have a lot on my plate so I’ll have to get going.’ The other two
nodded as the programme manager left the room.
‘The trouble with him,’ said the station manager, ‘he isn’t
keeping his eye on the ball or anything else except for one of the make-up
ladies. He spends more time in the make-up department than he does in his
office, usually when she’s in there alone and the other make-up staff haven’t
‘You mean that good-looking one – Carmen I think her name
‘Yeah, you’ve noticed her have you?’
‘Of course, how could I miss? She stands out.’
‘Right out. Almost pokes your eyes out.’
‘Anyway, apart from good-looking make-up ladies what can we
do about local comedy?’
‘Gibson should really be looking into that. It’s his area
after all. He’ll have to line up some writers and perhaps an outside production
outfit to come up with some suggestions and they’ll have to be just good as the
‘Ratings are down are they?’ said the sports director,
Victor Carpenter, when the ratings problem became known. ‘Too bad. Anyway, it’s
not our worry. As far as we’re concerned, the viewing public likes sport, sport
of all kinds. Even women’s sport. In fact women’s sport is a goer as the men
like to see women jumping around, hair and everything else flying.’
News director, Chad Wellman, was saying the same thing.
‘People will always tune in for the latest news so I don’t think the rating
problem’s in our corner.’
‘You never know though,’ said his assistant. ‘We get beaten
sometimes when the opposition come up with scarier stuff.’
‘Yeah, you could be right. We’ll have to get out there and
find even more violence and bloodshed to headline the news.’
‘I don’t think we’ve got the talent here on staff to
produce good comedy,’ opined Gibson the programme director to his assistant,
fair-headed Emily who liked her boss more than she should and was intensely
jealous of the make-up lady.
‘Put the word out to the independent writers and producers
that we’re looking for something that will rate. Good old comedy, the sort that
will raise a laugh even in those who don’t laugh much,’ said Gibson. ‘In the
meantime I just have to check up on something.’
Emily knew what the check up meant and when he returned
shortly after she looked for lipstick stains on his collar, almost like a wife
but she couldn’t see anything obvious so she felt better.
‘You know, ‘said Clive Betz to his assistant, Caroline,
‘this TV business is getting me down. I’m beginning to think it would be simpler
to manage a hamburger joint, like McDonald’s. People have to eat and most
can’t go past McDonald’s without stopping for a Big Mac.’
‘I know, I know,’ said Caroline. ‘That’s why half the
population’s obese. They can’t resist those fat-making snacks. It’s a national
disgrace, so many fat people.’
‘That’s not what I’m talking about,’ replied the station
In a pub not far from the station, some of the TV employees
met for a beer, those that didn’t have to be there after five or six o’clock or
some who had just darted away for a refresher before returning to the station
for the evening programming. These were males because females who had ventured
there for an after-work drink did not anymore because of the beery groping that
Everybody had something to say about the rumours that were
circulating about having to save money because of the downward trend of the
‘I wonder if they will keep us two on,’ said one of the two
gardeners employed to keep the grounds of the station neat and tidy.
‘One of you might have to go and the other left to do the
work of two,’ said one of the three security staff. ‘The same thing might happen
to us, one of us might get the boot.’
‘I don’t think very much will change,’ said Vic from the
sports department. ‘Most of us are flat to the boards now and I don’t think the
station could operate with any less staff.’
‘What they could spend money on is better food in the
station canteen. I think the quality’s been going downhill fast lately,’ said a
beery voice from the back.
‘We’d better get back, the news’ll be on shortly, so
they’ll be looking for us,’ said one of the studio lighting men who suddenly
realised that he and one of the audio crew had been there longer than they
‘We don’t, we’ve finished for the day,’ said one of the
gardeners. ‘At least they don’t make us work after dark although I wouldn’t be
surprised if they did.’
Betz, the station manager, got the key to the liquor
cabinet out of his trouser pocket and unlocked the cabinet. He was the only one
in the station who possessed a key.
‘OK, what’d you like?’ he asked the other two who had
attended the earlier meeting about impending doom because of falling ratings. A
drink or two would make the trio feel better.
‘Scotch and water,’ said one.
‘Beer’ said the second.