TVFutures: Student pitch


Emma Cox TV-Bay Magazine
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by Emma Cox
Issue 106 - October 2015
Student Pitch - Our second article pitch comes from Emma Cox, third year student studying BSc Television and Broadcasting at the University of Portsmouth. Personally I think this months KitPlus theme of acquisition is a tricky one for students to write about, but Emmas approach displayed real insight, and it also dared to be different.

When I first began searching for a university course offering TV, I came across a story that featured a student called Hayley Rutter who had managed a TV channel whilst studying on her course. Hayley stated that this opportunity to schedule and manage a TV channel (CCI TV, a student run TV channel that operates within the curriculum) had really opened her eyes about the wider scope of broadcasting, and it really resonated with me. I chose to follow in her footsteps; I joined the same course, and now entering my third year I have taken on the role of CCI TV Channel Manager, but I have a lot more experience under my belt.

Network Planning is a hugely important element of television, but it is also an area of the industry that can arguably remain a bit of a mystery to those wanting to work in TV. Without Network Planning, the whole television watching process would be a disordered and frustrating viewing experience. Thanks to Angus Gairdner (Head of Presentation & EPG Services) I was able to spend two weeks at BSkyB this summer discovering just why it is so crucial.

Its very easy to forget that everything we see on TV (and I mean everything!) is carefully planned and structured in a way to give us the best possible viewing experience. Whether it be a promotional advert, a programme sponsorship, an on-screen navigation menu to highlight whats coming up next, or even a bug of the channel logo in the top corner of our screens - the Presentation team are behind it. However, they also manage break patterns, the timing of schedules and any editorial requirements across all Sky channels. It perhaps might not come as a surprise, but it is not an easy job to do. Its an incredibly fast-moving but exciting environment to be in, especially when the pressure is on to meet daily transmission deadlines or make last minute changes if programme schedules have to be altered. Without this team, although we may not realise it, TV would seriously lack in both clarity and continuity. However, a Presentation Scheduler is not the only job in television that goes unnoticed.

I also had the chance to visit Editorial Compliance, a whole team dedicated to ensuring that each programme is suitable for its allocated time slot on the Sky channel it is scheduled for. The latter function in TV is something that Id never even thought of before - but what a great job, I mean who doesnt want to get paid for watching TV all day? But in all seriousness, they are a vital part of the broadcast platform, especially when dealing with acquired programmes. Acquisitions are a huge part of BSkyB, and with Sky Atlantic being The Home of HBO in the UK, they can have their work cut out - providing content notes, recommending classifications, cutting in appropriate breaks and selecting the correct warnings, not only to adhere to Ofcom regulations, but also to protect viewers. Although its a fun and relaxing working environment, achieving a good balance between customer, channel and Ofcom expectation with both acquired and commissioned programmes is not a simple task, and is yet another job in the world of television that lacks recognition.
I was fortunate enough to spend my last day at BSkyB with the Planning team. Having developed an interest in scheduling it was great to learn about the role of a Programme Scheduler - and I didnt realise just how complex it was! Their responsibilities range from spreading content to fill 24 hour schedules, ensuring all runs of acquired programmes are used evenly throughout the license period, analysing audience and channel performance, liaising with other departments like marketing and finance to plan and prioritise accordingly, gathering and reacting to competitive intelligence, and creating series links - theres lots to remember! But its even more complex than that, with each channel having its own feel and brand identity that schedulers must take into consideration when choosing a programme or time slot within their schedule. As you can see, Planning is one big balancing act that Programme Schedulers are definitely not given enough credit for.

No matter what area of the television industry youre interested in, as a student I would absolutely recommend finding some work experience. Its a huge eye-opener and great way to get a taste of whether or not its the right place for you. My placement at BSkyB was an invaluable experience and has made the prospect of working in the broadcast sector even more exciting. It will also hopefully prove to be a great aid for my final year project over the coming months, and for my role of CCI TV Channel Manager; co-ordinating content schedules, implementing presentation scheduling and continuing to raise awareness of all the unsung TV jobs out there. I hope I get the chance to write again at the end of the year and tell you how it all went.

Tags: iss106 | student pitch | #TVFUTURES | university of portsmouth | network planning | BSkyB | Emma Cox
Contributing Author Emma Cox

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