Media: Double Standards - 'Getting paid to watch television is the best job'

The buyers who brought Desperate Housewives and Joey to Channel 4 and five talk bad TV, bad shoes and already being in their ideal job.

JEFF FORD - HEAD OF ACQUISITIONS, FIVE

- How did you get a job in TV acquisitions?

When I watched Colombo in the late 60s/early 70s, I knew I wanted to buy shows for television. I thought I could be a cameraman at the BBC but was offered a job in the BBC film library in despatch.

- Both of you have reportedly paid large sums for the acquisition of Joey and The Simpsons respectively. Given their subsequent audience performances, are you still convinced this was the right thing to do?

Did we pay lots of money? Whatever we paid, it was worth it. Joey has changed the profile of the channel and given us the opportunity to break comedy.

- Do you think the BBC, with its massive programming budget, distorts the television market? And if so, do you think it is appropriate for a public service broadcaster to be involved in a bidding war?

It does distort the market. Bidding wars only serve to increase the studios' profits and cut broadcasters' ability to spend money in the UK.

- Do you have much input from your sales department before you decide to make an acquisition or do you rely more on your own gut feelings?

It depends on what the programme is and the timeframe in which the decision must be taken ... but I do like my guts!

- Do you think that your schedule is too dependent on foreign acquisitions at the expense of UK-originated programming?

Five was created with a programme budget that meant we would always have some reliance on acquisitions, but with each successful year we spend more money on UK-originated programmes.

- What has been your biggest acquisition mistake and what has been your most successful purchase?

These shoes are the worst decision ... the most successful would be CSI and Joey.

- Where do you make most of your acquisitions?

In the office.

- What's your worst TV show?

Hard one ... but we do have some old shows that play late-night ... Sons and Daughters?

- What do you watch on TV most?

Sport.

- Do you have a show that you've got your sights set on at the moment?

I'm still looking at the new shows as they are launched.

- What would be your dream job?

I'm in it.

JAY KANDOLA - HEAD OF ACQUISITIONS, CHANNEL 4

- How did you get a job in TV acquisitions?

Historical accident. I am an opportunist. I started out accounting for fertiliser imports. At the moment, I'm an acquistions executive. Next week, who knows?

- Both of you have reportedly paid large sums for the acquisition of Joey and The Simpsons respectively. Given their subsequent audience performances, are you still convinced this was the right thing to do?

D'oh! The Simpsons was a definite no-brainer for Channel 4.

- Do you think the BBC, with its massive programming budget, distorts the television market? And if so, do you think it is appropriate for a public service broadcaster to be involved in a bidding war?

I think that this question has been overtaken by the recent publication of the Green Paper.

- Do you have much input from your sales department before you decide to make an acquisition or do you rely more on your own gut feelings?

The whole channel is, quite rightly, aware of the commercial parameters within which it has to work, but the acquisitions department does not specifically consult with the sales department before making a purchase.

- Do you think that your schedule is too dependent on foreign acquisitions at the expense of UK-originated programming?

The channel seeks either to commission or acquire the best programming available at any point in time. During the past ten years, Channel 4 has been particularly successful at acquiring the best shows from the US (Friends, ER, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Will and Grace, The OC, to name but a few), but that should not detract from our excellent UK-originated programmes.

- What has been your biggest acquisition mistake and what has been your most successful purchase?

In acquisition terms, Desperate Housewives has clearly been the biggest success of the past decade and Lost, which shows in the summer, is going to be even bigger. It would have been nice to have won the bid for 24, but you can't win them all.

- Where do you make most of your acquisitions?

Most buying decisions are made from the comfort of my deluxe workstation in Horseferry Road, although I like to pretend that those trips to the US and Cannes are absolutely vital.

- What's your worst TV show?

Coronation Street.

- What do you watch on TV most?

EastEnders.

- Do you have a show that you've got your sights set on at the moment?

Acquisitions is a very seasonal activity. We are currently in the "close" season, but I am satisfied that Channel 4 picked up everything of value on our last outing.

- What would be your dream job?

You're asking that question to someone who watches television for a living?

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