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The best way to turn down a pitch

25 March 2010

One of the most important parts of a commissioning editor's job is learning the many ways of saying 'no' to programme pitches.

Recently, commissioners have been able to rely on a particularly effective way of turning producer ideas down.

It’s all thanks to the rise of advertiser funded programming (AFP). Cash strapped commercial broadcasters, particularly Five, have enthusiastically embraced AFP to fund shows such as Chinese Food in Minutes (pictured), which is backed by Sharwoods.

Now, instead of simply rejecting an idea, a commissioner can express enthusiasm for the proposal but say there’s no budget and then ask the producer to find an advertiser to fund it.

This is tantamount to a polite but flat out rejection as, contrary to all the industry hype surrounding AFP, it’s very difficult to find advertisers who are prepared to fully fund TV programmes.

AFP specialist Simon Wells of Drum Screen, who played a key role in the resurrection of ITV1’s The Krypton Factor which is backed by IT firm Sage, explains: “A commissioning editor’s answer to a programme pitch used to be ‘yes, no or maybe in six months.’

“Now it’s ‘yes, no, maybe or if you can find money from the advertiser come back’. That’s said in the pretty certain knowledge that it’s very, very hard to find money from an advertiser.”

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