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As a creator and executive producer of factual and reality TV, I am often speaking to TV network buyers of all shapes and sizes, as well as to producer colleagues from around the world.

What I’m beginning to hear is that in recent times, propriety and political correctness might be standing in the way of clearer communication. In a competitive programming environment like the current one, can anyone afford not to be clearly understood?

To that end, here’s my list of ten things commonly said by networks to producers and my impression of what is really meant by them.

 

1. WHEN NETWORKS SAY:
“We’re looking for noisy characters”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
Can you find us some trashy, conflict-loving attention-seekers who will work cheap?

 

2. WHEN NETWORKS SAY:
“We want this doc-soap to be really authentic”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
Can you jiggle your cameras more and see if you can’t improve the acting of your ‘real people’?

 

3. WHEN NETWORKS SAY:
“We want larger than life characters”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
Make sure that our real people are more extreme than our competitors’…

 

4. WHEN NETWORKS SAY:
“We want to develop something really edgy for this network”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
In about six months we’ll be changing our minds but let’s have some fun for now.

 

5. WHEN NETWORKS SAY:
“We have a brand that wants to be integrated into your show, can you make it work?”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
Our revenue model is crumbling. Heeelllp!

 

6. WHEN NETWORKS SAY:
“Competitive formats are really working well on our channel”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
Do you think we can squeeze one more hit out of this trend before people get sick of it?

 

7. WHAT THEY SAY:
“We loved your teaser tape”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
Thank you for paying for development!

 

8. WHAT THEY SAY:
“Could this make money as a format?”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
How hard should we be fighting you for the ancillary rights?

 

9. WHAT THEY SAY:
“What’s your social media strategy”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
There’s no money for promotion, so you’d better hire an intern and get her to tell her Facebook friends about the show.

 

10. WHAT THEY SAY:
“We’re excited to launch your series this summer”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS:
We’re burying your show.

 

 

Allan Novak is an award-winning TV series and format creator who recently launched AllScreen Entertainment, to create and produce great shows across platforms, genres and borders. You can find him on LinkedIn here, and follow him on Twitter here

 


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