‘Seven was just like the “gonna” network. It was always “gonna” do this and there was always a problem with that,’ says one executive. ‘That was the culture. It was such a culture thing. Everyone was analysing so much because they were stuck at number two, jealously looking at the Packer empire and people like David Leckie and also looking at the challenger [Ten] coming through.’
In Michael Bodey’s new book Broadcast Wars, you get more than an account of the back room machinations of commercial free-to-air television over the last ten years. You get an insight into the the decision-making, the mis-steps & the ego that is required to run commercial television in Australia. And it’s bloody good.
Bodey weaves a story dripping with intrigue, built for TV nerds and casual consumers alike. The story takes up at the turn of the century. Channel 9 is continuing it’s dominance and devil-may-care approach to promotion, Channel 7 is the perpetual bridesmaid and punchline while Channel 10 is still figuring out what it’s going to do when it grows up. The horizon offered amazing opportunities to all three networks and how they played them out would prove to be critical steps in what would shape their successes.
As individual events the things that changed and Ch’s 7, 9 & 10 were not that defining in their own right, but together each event had a cascading effect to deliver a turn-around in the fortunes of all three. The book culminates in the tale of Ch10’s poaching of Ch7’s Sales Director James Warburton and it’s outcome – 2012 looks to be an exceedingly interesting year for all concerned.
Broadcast Wars is a compelling read. Each chapter flows easily to the next as Bodey’s warm tone envelops you in the drama and sets up the coming broadcast year for another round. The insight and comment offered by the author allows the reader to get a much deeper understanding of what it’s taken at each network to get them to where they are today, and leads you to the conclusion it is all their own fault.
Broadcast Wars (Hachette Australia).