Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Liz Kershaw sinks the bloody ship

We're presuming the first inkling that there might have been something fishy about competition entrants on Liz Kershaw's 6Music programme - surely there weren't that many people listening in the first place? Now, as part of Mark Thompson's wobbly rolecall of dishonour, everybody knows that she managed to get callers to a pre-recorded programme by, erm, getting the production team and their mates to ring in.

Danny Baker used to manage to get around the problem of needing callers for a pre-recorded show by telling people when he'd be recording, and getting them to ring in then. But it sounds like Liz was doing the prerecords a lot more frequently.

You have to have some sympathy for WhiteLabel, the World Service's music show - sure, making up names of winners in weeks where nobody sent in a winning entry isn't strictly speaking honest, but it comes across more as a face-saving measure than a deliberate intention to mislead.

And what of the Comic Relief scandal:

In a section of the appeal programme, viewers were invited to donate money to Comic Relief and were informed that by calling in, they could win prizes that belonged to a famous couple.

The first two callers taken on air gave incorrect answers. The other waiting callers were lost and a third caller was heard on air successfully answering the question. This caller was in fact not a viewer but a member of the production team.

The "famous couple", of course, was Buttery Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Were the calls really lost, or was it simply that nobody who knew whose things they were wanted to try winning them?


2 comments:

James said...

This is all fascinating stuff, isn't it? Something tells me the Daily Mail is going to enjoy it a bit too much - Some of their stories on the subject of faked BBC shows have been along the lines of "The report showed the interviewee answering the door to the reporter and welcoming them in, but we can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that the two had already met FIVE minutes earlier". Expect the Mail on Sunday to run an exclusive this weekend on how the Daleks are just men in costumes.

My own experience of audience-swindling is far worse than getting a runner to pretend to win a prize when a switchboard blows up; A few years ago I worked at a commercial radio station which ran a lunchtime request show every day. The show was heavily trailed and listeners invited to text in their requests (premium rate, I think).

What they didn't know was that in every 'request' show, the playlist had already been picked by computer and delivered to the station a week in advance, just as it was for every other programme. Requested tracks didn't even come into it. If your request was played, it was because it just happened to be in the schedule for that day. (This wasn't just one station, by the way; This was across the network. Granted, I probably should've said something at the time, but my rage and despair was already consumed with about 100 other shoddy practices going on at the same time).

Amazingly, the whole show was based on this scam every day! However dodgy the BBC have been, as far as I can tell their 'fake entrants' have been down to last-minute disasters, rather than having them picked as plan A a week in advance.

don fugazi said...

she managed to get callers to a pre-recorded programme by, erm, getting the production team and their mates to ring in

It probably doesn't work like that; the production team would be the ones arranging and fielding the phone calls. And I'm sure that, further up the management ladder, more senior figures were aware of what happens on pre-recorded programmes. If they weren't, they are negligent. If they were, they are culpable.

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