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July 2008, Week 3


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 17 Jul 2008 08:46:56 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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"Frank, Michael" <[log in to unmask]>
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thanks for this detailed account

it only makes PBS's version of FOYLE'S WAR more puzzling -- because here is a case where a show made for commercial TV is shown *without* commercials, and is nevertheless cut to the point of occasional narrative incomprehensibility


-----Original Message-----
From: Film and TV Studies Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Darrell Newton
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 9:25 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCREEN-L] query: BBC adaptations

Peter and Mike;

When considering the disruption of narrative and issues of segmentation,
one can’t help but to examine the antics of BBC America here in the
States. As you may know, the cable channel was first launched in March
1998, and began its early programming schedule rife with BBC programming
and shows from other UK based television sources such as ITV and Channel
4. Sitcoms, costume dramas, science fiction and reality programmes were
some of the offerings that supposedly catered to American audiences and
their varied tastes. 

The channel is also advertising-supported (unlike the BBC and its
license fees) and all programs and movies are edited for commercial
interruption. At its inception, the channel was distributed through
Discovery Networks; the parent company of the popular Discovery Channel.
They handled the affiliate and advertising sales through the
newly-established New York based office of BBC America. BBC America is
now under the management of BBC Worldwide Americas.

When the service premiered, there were criticisms from viewers and
television critics over the heavy repetition of programs ads which ran
both during the evening schedule and during the day; creating 11 to 12
hours of content with heavy advertisement. A typical episode of one
drama had commercials at 10 past the hour; 20 past, 36, and 44 minutes
past the hour, with the show ending at 51 minutes. Nine minutes of
information about BBC America helped to fill the hour’s worth of

Comedy shows (or "Britcoms" as they were called by early promos for the
channel) ran within two hour slots, with one beginning at the top of the
hour, and the second beginning 40 minutes in. The third program began
approximately 80 minutes after the first, with promos placed in between.
Each show also had two to three breaks for ads. 

Among the many programmes shown (Casualty, Hamish Macbeth, EastEnders,
Blackadder, French and Saunders and others), ironically Doctor Who
suppposedly “premiered” on BBC America; and advertisements for the show
touted Who as being shown "only on BBC America" when in fact the program
has run for years on 16 Public Television stations around the country -
without commercial interruption. 

Darrell M. Newton, Ph.D.
Associate Professor,
The Department of Communication Arts
Salisbury University
269 Fulton Hall
Salisbury, MD 21801
(410) 677-5060 Office
(410) 543-6229 Department
>>> Peter Longworth <[log in to unmask]> 07/14/08 6:23 PM >>>
Hello Mike

This is an interesting issue you raise. The Australian Broadcasting 
Corporation (ABC) which is the equivalent of your BBC here does some 
atrocious things to programming. They showed the excellently produced 
'Bleak House' as 50 minute programming, when they were actually 
designed to run 30 minutes. I find the 30 minute presentation time 
favourable to the 50 minute running time - basically two episodes 
joined together.

Worst still is with the way the ABC presents their documentaries. Ten 
or so years ago they showed documentaries on the architect Franck 
Llyod Wright, my parents had seen the original documentary while 
holidaying in America in the mid 1990s and were appalled to notice 
the ABC were showing the documentary minus 60 minutes of its running
Other documentaries on famous film composer Bernard Herrmann and 
Bette Davis "The Stardust" documentaries were savagely cut. I have 
the Bette Davis documentary on a DVD boxset and notice how severely 
the cutting of this documentary was.

The television stations (PBS & BBC) should be forced to show the full 
documentary - cut documentaries don't work because:

1) They're inferior
2) It's pretty obvious they've been cut to fit programming schedules
3) It's not how the original director made his work.
4) If a cinema cut a movie to fit running times they'd be in breach 
of copyright
5) Television stations need to show the full product

My advice is to write to the major newspapthe television station etc. Sadly, I'm sorry to say the ABC is very 
biased in how they handle complaints. They're happy to air their 
left-wing propaganda on media shows like Media Watch, but when the 
heat is on them they're selectively ignore airing reports criticising 
the running of their TV shows. They also seem reluctant to run 
corrections for mistakes they've made on their shows, Media Watch


At 11:24 PM 14/07/2008, you wrote:
>a question about PBS "masterpiece" presentations of BBC material 
>[with the usual apologies for duplication]
>i chanced last night to watch the PBS "masterpiece mystery" 
>presentation of an episode from the BBC's "foyle's war" series, and 
>there were some aspects of the narrative structure of the program 
>that seemed to me very peculiar . . . . it's possible that the beeb 
>[with whose programs i'm largely unfamiliar] uses a different model 
>of narrative organization than i'm used to -- but i suppose it's 
>also possible that PBS re-edited the program [for audience and/or 
>time considerations] and that some of the things i noticed were 
>distortions of the original . . .
>so . . . does anyone know whether PBS mucks around with beeb 
>originals before presenting them, or whether they are presented in 
>substantially original form?
>thanks for any clues

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