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Give me a break

Posted by Louise Palmer on 21st October 2009

I’ve recently returned from a month’s sabbatical, touring the South Devon and Cornwall coastline. Although I must confess that amongst all the cliff walks and strolls on the beach I did indulge in more than a little ‘daytime TV’.

The counties of Devon and Cornwall embarked on their digital switchover earlier this year, so I had a multitude of Freeview channels at my fingertips in the places I stayed. But goodness, what is it with the ads they are running?

I promise, I really don’t have any old gold lying around in my home and I don’t need a lawyer as I’m not in the habit of tripping up or falling over at work. Sigh. All too often I found myself channel-hopping in the hope of finding something else to entertain me for a few minutes.

But perhaps I’m being unfair. It’s unlikely the ads are aimed at someone who normally works an office job from Monday to Friday. But it did make me think about the way I usually watch TV.

I was missing my digital TV recorder; that clever little box that captures all my favourite programmes so I can watch them whenever I want to – with my finger poised over the fast forward button waiting for the little fuzzy black and white box to appear that marks the looming ad break.

Digital TV recorders are already in more than a quarter of UK households and the switchover is only now really beginning to ramp up to its completion in 2012. Wow, I thought, we could be on track for an exciting revolution in the way we all watch TV!

But then I started to worry about what ditching live TV would actually mean.

You see, while I’m not really a fan of ad breaks, I am a fan of decent TV content. If we’re not watching the ads, then why will brands bother spending money on them? UK internet ad spend overtook TV for the first time this year and ITV’s falling advertising revenues have been reported widely this month. How, with falling revenues, will the stations be able to commission, or buy, lovely new dramas, documentaries and entertainment shows?

Could we be condemning ourselves to a multitude of commercial digital TV channels that show nothing more than repeats of Friends, Murder She Wrote and the like?

And here’s another thing. I have a nagging feeling that if we skip the ads too often we may well miss out on those gems of genius that show the creativity that our ad agencies are capable of.

Does anyone know if milk is still what Ian Rush drinks?

Louise Palmer

Deftly switching between business and consumer accounts, the focus for Louise remains the same; how can Wildfire tell clients’ stories in a way that is faithful, relevant and engaging? Her wide technology PR experience makes Louise an agile Managing Director, combining the strategic management of PR programmes with a hands-on approach to get under the skin of clients and motivate her teams.