Fringe benefits 

4 August 2009

Broadcast Now: BBC slammed for low Edinburgh turnout

It seems to elude some people that an arts festival might conceivably be covered in a radically different way to a pop concert. The Glastonbury Festival had a handful of stages combined with a relatively small number of popular music acts, whilst the Edinburgh Festival has thousands of performers across many venues catering for all conceivable tastes.

Substantially covering the latter would require many hours of airtime and numerous camera crews, with most of the end product boring all but the most committed viewer as a consequence. Which would hardly be a worthwhile use of licence fee payers’ money.

It may be true that the BBC’s yearly Edinburgh Fringe coverage could and should be improved, but the argument should be centered around the amount of relevant airtime exposure as opposed to the number of staff employed on the project – BBC Four could (and should) have given the event greater prominence last year.

By all means criticize various aspects of the BBC and its management if you want to, but claiming that the corporation is doing a disservice to a major event purely on the number of staff employed is an ultra-simplistic argument bordering on ignorance and prejudice.

The “popular music is inferior” argument is the reason why the number of complete surviving editions of Top of the Pops from the 1960s can be counted on the fingers on one hand; an attitude which I would have thought we would have grown out of by now, judged from collective past mistakes.

Obviously not, it seems.

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Monday 5 December 2022