20150627

TELEVISION

The broadcasting industry survived by its wits and ideas. Of the industry, Barbara Parkins of 'Peyton Place' (1964-69) told Stacy Smith of Tribune Media Services in 1985, "It is intoxicating; that's why it's so hard to let it go. On television, you earn an amazing amount of money – that's certainly alluring. V.I.P. treatment at the airport – how do you let that go? I see actors and actresses around, bits and pieces here and there, who can't let it go. It's just very painful." Rowena Wallace admitted to withdrawal symptoms after leaving the Australian soap opera 'Sons and Daughters' in 1984, "Being in a show for 3 years becomes a sort of structure for your life. You live it and you do it virtually 7 days a week...The thing is that always in the back of my mind was the thought that I was having fun and I hoped that I was communicating that sense of fun. You are always slightly tongue-in-cheek."

Soap operas were known for being melodramatic but "the essential elements are a strong dramatic narrative, ongoing stories and evolving characters." In news, the ratings usually climbed when there was "a big story" but could just easily fall back down again. At one time back in 1979-1980, the 3 network newscasts scored a combined 76 share (76% of the viewers watching TV at 6:30 weeknights were watching one of the 3 newscasts). It was not uncommon for '60 Minutes' to attract a 44% share of the viewing audience in its Sunday time slot in 1978. Bob Chandler believed, "Having shorter stories than the hour-long documentaries helps in the same way that non-fiction magazines always sold better than non-fiction books. But the real key is the skill of those who do the show." The popularity of '60 Minutes' gave rise to '20/20'. Bob Shanks described the program, "The show will have 4 major stories and some departments. It will be a true magazine with a lot of diverse elements, presenting a broad view of what is going on in the world. It will range from very current stories to human interest to social landscape, as well as investigative pieces." 

Around the same time, the program 'Weekend' was also being launched. Reuven Frank remarked, "I would assume we'll have about 3 segments on the magazine, although not necessarily equal segments. Sometimes we might go to 2 or 4 and I'm not ruling out a one-segment show, although we are not in the documentary business...We will handle all topics. If we have to name a style, I would say basically narrative. We tell stories, and deal in narrative, rather than explaining or catching people out. We try to use pictures. If we don't have pictures, we don't have a story. This is television, not expensive radio."

On early-morning television Squire Rushnell said of 'Good Morning America' in 1978, "We may go after the same news stories (as 'Today') but there is a different style of treatment. We have, perhaps, a little less hard news than 'Today' has and a little more human interest. 'Today' always has been a terrific habit pattern for more than 2 decades ('Today' debut in 1953), a solid institution. It is difficult to break habit patterns. I would say that an enormous number of 'Today' viewers never knew that there was another show opposite it. This means that people have found an alternative. We are just a rating point behind 'Today', but we have exceeded them in the number of women under 50 who tune in, although not by much."

Australian TV news director Neil Miller made the comment in 1989, "Your presenters are your shop front. It really doesn't matter how good you are behind the scenes; if the presenters are not up to presenting the news in a professional manner, you've got a problem." Colleague John Sorell added, "It is a strange industry…you'll warehouse talent purely to keep people away from the opposition. You might not have anything for them to do but to stop them going anywhere else, you will pay them good money and wait for a slot to open up…Channel Nine and Sam Chisholm started the star system in this country (Australia) and that is what you have got with your news presenters. They are a very important part of your marketing strategy." In the early days of 'A Current Affair', it was noted the show "often set agendas for the next day's news."

1993. Mike Willesee: If I buy a birthday cake from a cake shop and GST (Goods and Services Tax) is in place do I pay more or less for that birthday cake?

Opposition Leader: Well, it will depend whether cakes today in that shop are subject to sales tax, or they're not - firstly. And they may have a sales tax on them. Let's assume that they don't have a sales tax on them...then that birthday cake is going to be sales tax free. Then of course you wouldn't pay - it would be exempt, would, sorry - there would be no GST on it under our system. If it was one with a sales tax today it would attract the GST, and then the difference would be the difference between the 2 taxes whatever the sales tax rate is on birthday cakes, how it's decorated, because there will be sales tax perhaps on some of the decorations as well, and then of course the price - the price will reflect that accordingly…

Mike: …Just on the birthday cake, because I'm trying to pick up a simple example. You tell us in what you've published that the cost of cake goes down, the cost of confectionery goes up, there's icing and maybe ice-cream, and then there's candles on top of it.

Opposition Leader: That's right, now that's the difficulty - that's what I'm addressing in the question. To give you an accurate answer, I need to know exactly what type of cake to give a detailed answer. I mean if it's just a cake from a cake shop that is not presently subject to sales tax, it will not attract the GST...If it is a cake shop, a cake from a cake shop that has sales tax, and it's decorated and candles as you say, that attracts sales tax, then of course we scrap the sales tax, before the GST is…

Mike: Okay - it's just an example. If the answer to a birthday cake is so complex - you do have an overall problem with the GST, don't you?

Paula Zahn told Cosmopolitan magazine in 1994, "It's actually great television when you pair a well-prepared politician with a well-prepared interviewer. There are sparks…What we do is very challenging. We only have 5 minutes to debrief a guest. What should be 80% of the interview is listening to the guest and eliciting new information, so I'm always looking for minutiae (precise details) to make it unlike other interviews he's done. All guests are different. Politicians for the most part are very well prepared. No matter how informed you are, they're going to want to take the interview where they want it to go. You've got to have your ammunition lined up."

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