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UNESPAR 2010

WIRE WRITER SAYS ADVERTS KILL TV

 

The creator of highly-acclaimed hard-hitting TV drama The Wire has said television can only be worthwhile when freed from the constraints of advertising. David Simon said at the Edinburgh International TV Festival: "Television as a medium, in terms of being literate and telling stories, has shortchanged itself since its inception. That is because of advertising."

 

Simon said: "Only when television managed to liberate itself from the economic construct of advertising was there a real emancipation of story. American television got until the point of premium cable was about the interruptions every 13 minutes to sell you cars and jeans and whatever else."

 

He said the adverts became more important than the show. "You had to bring the most number of eyeballs to that show and that meant dumbing down and making plots simple, gratifying people within the hour."

 

Simon also said that ratings were of little importance to him. He added that there were now a number of ways by which people could watch his programs. "In the fifth season we got the worst ratings ever and more people were watching the show," Simon said. "Nobody was tuning in to watch the premiere on a Sunday night. They were getting it on demand or they were waiting for the dvds or they were getting it illegally off the bit torrent sites on the web." HBO came to the conclusion ratings no longer mattered. TV had become, at this level, a lending library.

 

Simon, who claims not to be a TV person despite his success, said that The Wire had not changed anything in his home town of Baltimore. "I don't think there's been an impact one way or another," he said.

Adapted from BBC NEWS Saturday, 29 August 2009 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/8227864.s tm

 

The Wire is:

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