Over the past week or so the BBC has endured a lot criticism for axing BBC Three, a decision taken in recognition that it lacks the cash to ensure the quality of its output.
With a charitable and helpful sense of timeliness, ITV has today demonstrated what happens if you take the opposite approach and keep growing your channel portfolio without massively upping the budget.
The broadcaster has announced what can only be described as a no-budget take on Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe in which Matt Edmondson will bring viewers a whole host of “witty, insightful and creative” takes on the week’s TV.
A key difference between with Brooker’s show and TV OD is that these takes won’t be the product of hardworking comedians and their writing teams.
Instead ITV is assembling a team of researchers to “mine the very best of real viewer opinion and comment from today’s most popular digital and social media platforms”.
This team will spend their days “scouring tweets, blogs, and forum posts, to bring us the funniest, strangest and angriest opinions about the telly we’re all obsessed with from the past seven days.”
Yes, ITV is going to save you the trouble of going online to read what your friends think of their favourite – and hated – shows by broadcasting their tweets and forum posts in place of what old fashioned types might call ‘proper programming’.
Though I suspect we can all guess the answer, I’ve asked ITV’s press office to confirm how many of the “witty, insightful and creative” posters and social media users will get paid for providing the script of this must-watch show.
While some might be flattered to have their musings celebrated as the funniest online comment about programme X, I don’t know that many will be happy with their comments being held up by ITV as “very weird” or strange.
At the least bad end of the ‘why this is a naff idea’ spectrum, it’s just plain rude to lift comments out of context and reuse them without the clear, informed consent of the poster – who after all holds copyright in their posts.
But at the worst end it could seriously backfire by exposing people to ridicule and even bullying where authors of opinions deemed “weird” or strange are easily identifiable.
Over the years ITV has been home to some seriously duff programme ideas but, by a country mile, this is the worst.
Update 18/3/2014: An ITV Spokesperson said the show “will adhere to all necessary requirements regarding the use of Tweets and other online comments made on open platforms.”