Counting noses is not enough
IN their saddest hour since -11a near annihilation in the audience ratings in 1959, the BFIC have once again conceded an increasing share of the television watching cake to their rivals, ITV. And all this in a year when the BBC opened ---in London at least—their
It is especially sad as most
people believe that the BBC do provide a more balanced service —even if 1TV provide a more entertaining one.
But before Broadcasting House bring out the black-edged handkerchiefs, it might be worth everyone's while seriously to question television's audience sampling methods.
ITV count noses. They want to sell advertisers space. The number of noses. pointed at ITV screens determines the amount of money dropped into ITV money boxes by ITV advertisers,
So it would make very little difference to ITV if a majority of viewers hated all their programme -as long as they kept on watching them. And a recent poll showed that there is some truth in this.
The BBC also count noses, but claim to take viewers' appreciation into consideration as well.
But both these systems leave out the most important factor of all. Just knowing whether a viewer watches a programme or even knowing that he likes it does not answer the most important social question about television — what effect does it have?
What effect on individuals, adult as well as juvenile? And more important what effects on public taste, morality and attitudes?
It is now generally known that most British people spend most of their leisure time watching television.
Yet we know more of the. effects of aspirin than we do of television. Even the Pilkington Committee had to spend a good deal of the preamble to their famous report in explaining why they thought television to be an important contributor to social attitudes, as no authoritative or comprehensive study has yet been done.
As ITV is apparently interested only in numbers, and the BBC only in applause, perhaps one of the big foundations such as Ford, Gulbenkian or Rockefeller could undertake some real research into what is fast becoming western man's chief pursuit.
THE horizons of sports coverage A were pushed hack a hit farther last Saturday by the
fascinating use of radio microphones in the coverage of the Lord's Taverncrs and Old England cricket match by the BBC.
Richie Benaud, ate former Australian captains used one while actually bowling to Denis Compton. He was able to describe what sort of ball he was proposing to bowl, what action he hoped to induce in the batsman and what were the tactics of his over. Apart from increasing the viewers' pleasure in the genie, it immeasurably increased the potentials of sports coverage.
For example, could this be done in a serious match—say a Test Match? Could goalkeepers wear them during a Cup final? Could snooker players, or even racing drivers or jockeys wear them?
A radio microphone allows the user almost complete freedom of movement. All he requires is a small microphone round his neck and this is attached to a minute transistorised transmitter in his pocket which is just powerful enough to reach a more powerful transmitter put nearby for the purpose.
Obviously there arc sporting limitations for its use. No sportsman involved in strenuous physical exertion could use one. All the viewer would hear would be the pounding of his heart.
But if the sporting authorities co-operate, I think we can expect some big developments in sports
SATURDAY was in fact a very
successful day for BBC outside broadcasts. In the morning they covered the spectacle of Trooping the Colour.
I often wonder what the Guardsmen must think about having their parades televised. With cameras above them, to right and left of them, ahead of them and behind them, it gives no room whatever for error.
There was once a producer, I am told, who thought he would save money on actors by asking the Army to provide 1,000 soldiers for his battle scene. The Army readily agreed but while the producer was still congratulating himself on his acumen, the Army sent in a bill for 6,000 guineas, which is the sum that would have been charged by television extras.
I am sure there is a lesson here for the Brigade of Guards next time there is to be a televised parade. Say two thousand soldiers on parade at six guineas a time— given a few of those and there might he a cut in the Defence estimates.