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conversazioni fittizie : BBC "talent" contract negotiations

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The BBC has told some of its performers that pay will be cut by 25% and scenery etc. will be subject to cost-cutting measures. conversazioni fittizie sits in on a meeting that never took place.

BBC executive: Look, we are spending far too much on a few people who have, it has to be said, more of a talent for getting their name in the paper than for delivering high-quality product. In short, our revenue comes from the licence fee, so we are the custodian of taxpayer's money. And in truth, never have so few been paid so much by so many.

Actor: but if you cut my pay by 25%, why should I work for you?

BBC: why indeed? After all, you work for us for 60 days each year. You are not an employee and so you are free to take on additional work at the same time and, of course, when you are not working for us.

Actor: yes, but the only reason I get that other work is because I'm famous for being on the telly.

BBC: yes, we've been looking into that. It's not just actors: its all of our presenters. And so the 25% cut is just a start. You see, we've decided that you are not an actor - you are an example of product placement. We spend a fortune on producing a platform that brings you into the public eye and upon which you capitalise.

Actor: that's not fair.

BBC: but it's true: we own the title of the programme and the name of the character. Yet whenever you are mentioned in the media - or in your agent's promotions of you - it's not "John Peterson" that's mentioned, but "John Peterson, TV's Bloke Down A Hole."

Actor: but that's how people know me.

BBC: precisely: if you were worth being famous in your own right, then you wouldn't need to use our brand to promote your own personal appearances, newspaper columns and even the raft of interviews that you are paid fifty pounds to talk to another one of our staff for three minutes.

Actor: but I'm not paid as much as some of your chat show hosts or radio presenters.

BBC: indeed, and we are looking at that, too.

Actor: so what's the end result?

BBC: It's simple: as from 2011, all performers will be required to pay us for the amount of airtime they receive. We are going to move towards charging for product placement - including ketchup, cornflakes and "personalities" or "celebrities."

Actor: I'm not standing for that. I won't work for you any more.

BBC: that's fine. We have another plan: we formally employ you and in addition to your performing roles, we book your additional jobs: public appearances, stage plays, pantomimes, writing books that kind of thing. And we collect the fee.

Actor: you can't do that.

BBC: we can if the contract says we can. And as from next week, all our contracts will say that you cannot use the name of the BBC or any of its programmes or characters to promote your own business.

Actor: you are just picking on us.

BBC: not so: we are not going to pay for any music on our programmes, excluding music channels - but we are going to properly credit the artists - on screen - as the music plays. We are going to charge the support crew to be in the credits: our customers are the viewers, not an internecine bunch who just want to get their names at the end of a programme or film. No one cares which lawyers did the contract work, who provided the on-set catering, who did someone's hair or who the second deputy to the assistant set painter is. So it's simple: if people want their ego feeding, they can pay for it.

Actor: so you'll make clawbacks against our contractual payments?

BBC: no. We will invite tenders or perhaps even offer roles and seats up for auction. You'll pay before you set foot on set.

Actor: you've got to be kidding me.

BBC: not at all: look at the logic. We don't pay millions of pounds a year to foul-mouthed louts who use the BBC as a platform for insulting people and then publish "laddish" books; But we raise the capital to produce the programme instead of everything being speculative spending on our part. It's genius.

Actor: I'll not work on that basis.

BBC: bye then.



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