Monday 24 March 1997
There may be some hope for the thousands of students currently toiling away on the much-maligned media studies courses that those already in the industry like to slag off so much. According to the latest figures from the policy studies institute, 560,000 people are employed in what it calls the "cultural industries". This is twice the number employed by the car industry and a third more than those employed in retail banking. The bad news is that once they finish their courses they'll have to move to London. A third of all jobs in the cultural sector are in the capital, and this figure rises to almost 60 per cent for jobs in TV and radio.
BLAME IT ON THE BIG BOYS
It is a truth universally acknowledged in the advertising world that the creative work used in radio advertising is crap. The formula tends to be a dialogue between one increasingly amazed consumer and a friend who can bore on in great detail about the benefits of the coffee/ life- insurance/ slimming drink in question. It is worth noting then that the amount spent on this type of advertising has increased by 74 per cent over the last three years to pounds 309m in 1996, according to the latest figures from the Radio Advertising Bureau. The fact that the top 20 creative agencies have moved from buying a quarter of all radio's airtime in 1993 to a third now - without the ads getting any better - proves that poor radio ads are not, as has been claimed, the fault of small ad agencies in the sticks. It is the big boys who are to blame.
The dawn of a new age of programming is upon us thanks to Channel 5's plan to stretch programmes out across the week to lower their cost per hour. The best example of the new programme economics is its five-nights- a-week-soap A Family Affair. It will come in at a production cost of less than pounds 50,000 per episode. This compares with an estimated pounds 70,000 per episode for Brookside and around pounds 120,000 per episode of Coronation Street and EastEnders.
READ 'EM AND WEEP
Modern anarchists believe that the best way to undermine consumer capitalism is to lie to market researchers - bad research will lead to unwanted products and the eventual collapse of the economy, or so the theory goes. There may be more anarchists around than we realise. Concerned to find out where viewers are going as they drift off away from the telly, Continental Research found that the number one favourite leisure activity of their respondents was reading a book. Indeed, 60 per cent of all adults prefer reading to going to the pub or gardening. As book sales in the UK - currently at around 220 million a year - are in long-term decline, these presumably are the same people who claim that when they do watch television they just watch Newsnight and the odd wildlife documentary.
The news last week that young single women are becoming increasingly celibate may have some disturbing implications for Virgin Radio. The radio station is keen to publicise a study of 2,400 of its listeners' attitudes to various social issues. One of the key findings seems to be that Virgin listeners are 47 per cent more likely to sleep with someone on the first date than the national average. Look forward to the station's advertising sales team using the research to target the London Rubber Company.
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