Juliet Jacques & IBWM called for a television revolution & it appears people were listening. Now, who's with us?
Earlier this year, I wrote an article for this website about the shameful absence of intelligent opinion within English footballing programming, and what we might do to fill the void. ‘The Revolution Must Be Televised’ appeared alongside several similar critiques (such as this one for Football 365), and was read 8,000 times in its first twelve hours online: clearly, there are far more broad-minded football fans than our networks have ever realised – and the time has come for us to be served.
More interesting than the hit count were the comments. Immediately, it was pointed out that the programme in the manifesto already existed, in the form of various podcasts, ranging from the Guardian Football Weekly to numerous productions made without the backing of a major media outlet and finding an audience through online sharing and word of mouth.
The suggestion came that, in order to demonstrate interest to an independent producer, we create a videocast which discusses tactics, finances, politics and culture, with a genuinely global focus, involving the burgeoning football blogosphere. Then, if it proved popular, a company with greater resources could pick up the format, give it a televisual platform, secure rights to footage as necessary (from the holders identified here) and involve higher-profile guests who were paid for their time – as well as members of the community which made the online version. (If, indeed, we wanted to take it from the Internet to the television: but that’s not the main issue just yet.)
Guardian journalist James Dart helpfully published this list of a hundred football blogs to follow, with an open comments section, collating a vast number of worthwhile websites and explaining their key concerns. Their writers could form a pool of guests, which would vary according to each edition’s agenda. Events such as the Socrates meets (organised via this website) may also prove a good place to evolve ideas.
As with any filmed broadcast, it would need a regular host (or hosts) with a visually interesting studio. This would not need to be expensive: a room decorated with football memorabilia (much like the old Fantasy Football League set, but more internationally minded) would suffice, or it could be even more basic than that. It’s possible, too, that the location could move around the country (or even continent); for example, filming could occur around a match attended by that week’s guests.
In addition, the videocast would need a website, containing a manifesto and profiles of the presenter(s) and guests, as well as contact details and perhaps a forum for people to suggest topics and contributors (although I feel it might work best if managed and administered by a central editorial team which is not too large). It would also require online space to host all the programmes, someone with the means to film it – a simple digital video camera would be a start – and optimise it for online viewing. Via social networking sites and (hopefully) the continuing support provided by the Guardian, distribution would manage itself.
Nobody is arguing that such a venture should replace Match of the Day or other entry level footballing programming, and few would expect it to achieve similar viewing figures, be it online or on television. The vital thing is to ensure that we can meet effectively meet the production costs: if we can quickly establish a following, then it may be possible to attract some advertising and increase the quality of the programme, perhaps even incorporating some of the footage mentioned above. For now, it may be possible to use YouTube clips with a disclaimer stating that if the copyright holders want us to remove them from the programme then we will be happy to do so (the practice used by YouTube itself).
To get this off the ground, the first thing we must do is to get as many potential contributors on board as possible, identify the necessary resources and find out who can offer access to them. Then we can work to get these people in the same place at the same time, with a view to establishing an editorial board and production team. As with my previous article, the comments section below will form a useful place to start discussing ideas and, should we want to, take this project to the next stage: then the revolution can really take hold.
It's over to you for your (now easier to post) comments below, who's with us?
Juliet writes regularly for IBWM and the Guardian and can be found here and on Twitter@JulietJacques