Monday, October 06, 2008

Andy Burnham wants them to bring back Top Of The Pops

TV isn't doing enough to help new acts, reckons the government. Or at least that's what culture secretary Andy Burnham thinks:

Andy Burnham said: "We need a programme like Top of the Pops again.

"This was a great thing that was always putting a great mix of new music before the public."

Mr Burnham, speaking at music industry conference In the City in Manchester, said great acts that emerged 20 years ago may not get the same chance today.

Broadcasters must "promote and champion new music in this country, rather than having just very safe options on prime-time TV", he told executives.

Although, of course, we did have a programme exactly like Top of the Pops just a couple of years ago and they took it off because nobody was watching it.

Burnham then recalled watching Tony Wilson on the Granada Reports:
Mr Burnham said he recalled seeing Wilson, who died last year, promoting new bands at the end of his regional news programme.

"Today, people perhaps have more power over their own destiny, but getting heard over the bottom rung of noise is much harder than it was 15 or 20 years ago when people were being chucked onto Granada Reports at the end of the news," he said.

"It seems to me to be a more difficult place to be.

"Perhaps what was always surprising about music, and some of the music that came out of this city, was that they could go national because of the way things were.

"Whereas I do worry very much that if we retreat into that comfort zone, that tried and tested model, they just won't break through in the same way."

Actually, of course, Granada's great strength came not in the slots on Reports, but in the longer-form programmes featuring regional bands that the company would throw out late at night: the So It Goes, the Other Side Of Midnights - even the Pennis Pops Outs. It's arguable that The Stone Roses and New Order owe more to the cross-subsidisation allowed by making Corrie than just from coming from the right place, full stop.

Mr Burnham might like to count up exactly how many programmes are being made like that by the modern ITV his government have allowed to develop; he might also ponder if slots for local bands on teatime news are going to become easier to come by, or harder to come by, when Ofcom lets ITV turn local news into 'somethings that have happened in a 500 mile radius'. You know, something he could actually do something about rather than making weak calls for the return of a show which had been allowed to wither in a multichannel world.

Shouldn't the culture secretary have been looking ahead, anyway? If, say, games are going to become an important new space for promotion of new bands, isn't that where Burnham should be focusing his efforts, rather than calling for Jimmy Saville to come out of retirement?