Are Commissioning Editors and Marketing Managers Killing Our Industry?

This has been a question on my mind for quiet some time now. To be fair to blame the situation on a selective few would be disingenuous of me as the problems lie within almost every part of this business. However I personally think the commissioning editors and the marketing departments of all the channels in this country have the power to change the tide. Perhaps that is where the problem lies, these people have way too much power.

The problem with mzansi's entertainment industry is that everybody in it wants to be famous even the runner in a show wants to be famous for just being that, a runner. It's becoming a common trend for commissioning editors and marketing managers to inject themselves in projects that have nothing to do with their job description. 

These days Marketing Managers are now judges on the shows they are supposed to be promoting. It's more about them being on tv than making the show a success by giving it the publicity it requires.

You will find commissioning editors rendering favours when choosing show proposal instead of looking at the merit and feasibility of the proposed show being a success or not. These days I find myself flabbergasted at the content of some of the shows we are subjected to. 

One can't help but wonder what qualifications do these people have for them to commission such nonsense. How often do you find yourself thinking; How the hell did that end up on tv? 

Well wait for the end credits on that show and too often you will find that the production company that is producing that show has some relationship with someone in the channel.

Gone are the days when someone could just come in with a brilliant idea and have his show accepted. These days if they don't steal your idea they just toss it aside, period. We complain all the time that the industry is not growing fast enough. 

Well maybe it's time we took a pause and looked at the people who are holding it back. How long are we gonna just sit by and allow these individuals to getaway with this heinous crime. Depriving this industry the opportunity to thrive just so that you and your buddies can make a quick buck is something we should not tolerate in this industry. It's as heinous a crime as a parent depriving a child of a life.

SABC and ETV: When will we ever get to a point where we have ample competition among the production companies in this country. Granted, in any industry you will have the BIG GUNS and the smaller players. 

These big (don't know why they are big because some of them can't deliver) production companies should go through the rigorous channels that the smaller ones have to go through to get the Commissioning Editors' attention. Only then, when the commissioning processes is done on merit, can we have a viable industry. 

Competition breeds excellence! When you know you are up against the best you will always want to up your game. That can only mean good news for the industry because it will mean, better shows and more sponsorship thus leading to more shows and more performers being employed. WIN WIN.

When you ask questions about certain individuals on our screen, especially presenters, you will be told that “The Client” wanted them. What most people may not know is that, though “the clients” may have the final say on who should present a show it's very seldom that they use that power. 

Quiet often it's the commissioning editors and marketing managers who push for their favourite individuals to get the job. I also hear that a certain channel's Head Of Drama is making sure that all her friends get a break on a certain popular soapie. Rumours, I know but it's interesting when you actually watch that soapie and count the people that she knows or have some connection to her. 

 The Client which often just means the Sponsor does not know the industry, they just want a good show to sell their product. It is then the responsibility of the “industry people” to push for talent and not favours for friends.

I love this industry and believe that its growth will benefit everybody even these seemingly incompetent yet greedy individuals who hold the power in our tv channels. We need more fresher concepts. 

This thing of trying to push people down our throats even when we make it clear that we can't stomach them ought to stop. Yes they are your friends but remember that the channel you work for does not cater for you. Respect your audiences. 

If a presenter is rejected from one show why do you then try to push him on us by giving him another show? That too will fail because the audience can not connect with that presenter so cut him loose.

Too much power will make even the noblest of men into a tyrant, well in this case into a greedy narcissistic danger to our beloved industry. There is way too much power that's been bestowed on our commissioning editors as for our marketing directors, someone needs to yank their leash a little. 

I long for the day when we can have viable award ceremonies that will applaud excellence because our channels have given our stars a platform to showcase those talents. Right now the incompetence of these people is hurting everything about this business even our awards are seen as a joke as they do not reflect the diversity of our nation. 

Nothing that is done by our channels holds any water as it is seen as a self serving endeavours to stroke egos of a few individuals at the top. Think The Saftas, a brilliant concept but sadly is not getting the respect and acknowledgment it deserves because the endeavour is seen as an SABC glorifying machine not a talent driven acknowledgement of our stars. SAD.

Etv on the other hand has it's own people. There are certain individuals whom you will know that no matter what they will get a job at etv. These darlings of Etv (fair enough some have proven to have talent) will never be given a time of day on SABC shows. 

I am happy that we still have cross over celebs who are able to move from any of these channels freely. Unfortunately there is but a few of them . The sad part about these channel allegiances is that when that channel DROPS you, you end up with no other option to do anything else. Somebody hug SABC 1's former golden boy, Zola, when they see him. The guy needs it.

The channel, especially our national broadcaster that we pay our tv licenses for, should look at the credentials of the people they hire to be commissioning editors and marketing managers. These people should know the industry they will be serving, they should be clued up about popular culture and they should have some respect for the industry as that will make them think before they fall prey to nepotism and greed. 

What commissioning editor wouldn't want to be given a pat on the back for transforming these industry or just the channel he is on? Clearly the people we have now are failing their audience so while we are firing CEOs and dissolving Boards Of Directors why don't we do an overhaul and get rid of these clueless individuals in positions they can not serve competently?

Surely there is talent out there. We live in the most diverse country in the world. Shouldn't our creative output reflect that?

  • Why then are we subjected to rehashed versions of old shows?

  • why are we still watching shows that should have been canned ages ago?

  • Why are we putting presenters in shows we know they can not pull off?

  • Why are we giving certain production companies opportunities to produce shows when they have clearly ran out of fresh ideas?

  • Why are we having people who should be working in offices behind the scenes making sure that the shows the channels produce meet the mandate, all over our screens competing for screen time with celebrities?

Hopefully someone will heed the warning!!

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