“But” 

30 September 2006 tbs.pm/233

Such a little word. And we’ll be coming back to “but” shortly.

However (which is “but” in adult clothing, I know; don’t write in). However, let us start by not parroting faithfully the line all newspapers chose to latch on to: that the new BBCone (ugh) idents are a terrible waste of our money, shouldn’t have been done, questions to be asked, Charter alterations, budgets… blah. Blah. Blah blah.

Yes, evidently all newspapers got a press release and just rewrote it. But not a BBC press release. (Do the frightening mix of the educationally subnormal and the demented right-wing that are “BBC resistance” put out press releases?) All newspapers got a feed from somewhere, and the feed was clear: “BBC wastes money on BBC”.

Perhaps it’s just a computer program, like Google. You type in “BBC” and it spits out boring lines to take from previous ill-researched articles.

So, here’s my thoughts: Completely independent of the newspaper line, I like the new idents. Except the hippo one. That’s a bit twee. But for the rest, yeah, they have a charm to them. And they beat the dancers hands down: a terrible, contrived idea that could only have been approved by someone unaware that nature abhors a vacuum and was therefore willing to carry one around in her head. And for once I don’t mean the semi-automated Ms Jowell.

And so we come to the big little word. But.

Such a little word. And the “but” in operation here is attached to: …they’re diluting the BBC brand. Because now BBCone stands apart from BBC TWO and the multitude. It now looks and feels different to the rest.

The BBC should stand apart – indeed, it does, given the rubbish to be found elsewhere. But (there’s that word again) the BBC is now unique in Britain for being a broadcaster. The rest are television or radio companies. The BBC is a broadcaster. And, for all the prolonged and stupid whinging about “public service commitments” from the almost-former public service broadcasters, the BBC is the only broadcaster committed to public service, educating, informing and entertaining. And, yes, doing all three is the mark of a good broadcaster. Anything less is just animated wallpaper.

And now BBCone (what genius came up with that idea?) will be distinct from BBC TWO. Divorced, in fact. It will take time to re-establish the link between the multiple BBC outlets. Big mistake.

Nevertheless, in isolation, I like the new idents. I can see immediately that the music will be drowningly loud, like ITV1’s sadly misjudged idents, so a continuity announcer will have to come in late or just be aware that s/he can’t be heard. I can see that the idents were designed without asking presentation what they needed (presentation being 100% branding, whilst branding is only 5% presentation, of course the don’t ask the experts). I can see that very many idents will have to start late, so the context will be unclear and the ident mystifying to many. I can see that a second set of idents haven’t been created so nothing allows for an ancient royal to drop off her perch or a young one to slam into a tunnel wall or even a plane to crash into 4,000 ordinary people and BBCone presentation will need to cope with that. I can see that lessons were not learnt before and that the BBC will be sorry and will be caught being sorry.

Nevertheless, I like the new idents and will enjoy seeing them in place.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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