Editing Roving Report – 1967
In June 1967, when UPITN was formed from the combination of United Press Television News and Independent Television News, The UPIN team from Denham were transferred to Television House in Kingsway.
I supervised the move and made all the calculations necessary to place each item of office furniture in a location within the new premises. Some equipment had to be discarded and replaced with new. It was all very tight, moving from the comparative roomy facilities with Rank Laboratories Denham to the cramped space in Television House.
There was no room for me or the Current Affairs News Service (CANS) team. They, and I, were sent over the road to Ingersoll House where we had sumptuous offices that, it was said, had previously been occupied by Domecq the Sherry importers.
Phones were set up and a cutting room was provided. However, other things were going on. Sir Geoffrey Cox, head of Independent Television News wanted to change the format of ITN News. At that time, it consisted of a fifteen minute bulletin, each week day evening, followed by Roving Report once a week. He wanted to ditch Roving Report and make the bulletin a thirty-minute programme “allowing stories to be dealt with in depth“.
It was not so easy to bury Roving Report. It had contracts around the world that could not be broken. It was decided that CANS would cease production and the CANS team would take over R.R.
To kick it off, Dick Clark asked me to do the editing while Frank Miles, an experienced ITN journalist, would do the production and scripting. We were asked to do something that had not been done before. This was the first “cutting room bin show”, in that we were expected to make up stories from the trims of stories already used in the ITN Bulletin. Geoffrey Cox’s notion was that with the longer ITN “News at Ten”, there would be lots of film left over to make up a weekly Roving Report. It never happened.
While the production was in the hands of ITN, they had a sizeable crew, including a dedicated film crew, two film editors, a sound editor, the dubbing suite and a number of journalists. They had a budget of £9,000 a week, a considerable sum at the time.
We did not have a budget.
I don’t think Geoffrey Cox actually cared very much what Roving Report would look like, certainly he never had a look at one episode, to my knowledge, as long it was good enough to stop the clients complaining. It was my job to edit the picture and any synchronous sound. Any other sound requirements would be added in the ITN dubbing suite where the programme had been re-recorded since its inception.
ITN had a free hand in using mood music from the mood music libraries, such as Boosey and Hawkes, Chappells and De Wolfe. ITN had paid a blanket fee for the use of such music on any of its transmitted stories.
This would lead to enormous repercussions the following year .
From the word go, Frank Miles and I struggled to get a programme that was worth watching. Every episode was a struggle, every episode was unsatisfactory and something would have to give before it could be sorted out. We worked on it for six weeks before handing over the production to John Crossland, John Lofts, the journalists, and John Parkins, the film editor.
Crossland would work as producer of Roving Report for the next 17 years. The problem of procuring enough good material would never go away. It was to be called “The Cutting Room Bin Show”.
Frank Miles and I were never thanked for our pioneering work and when we left the cutting room for the last time to be replaced by Crossland and crew, not a word was said.
Here is an extract from my memoirs concerning the music problem :
While there, (In Ingersoll House) John Crossland was sent an invoice that had been received by ITN. It came from the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society and it claimed around £4,000 in licence fees for music used in Roving Report. I should add that the UPITN crew producing the roving Report were not responsible for the laying of sound tracks, or the music, which was handled by the sound department of ITN.
Being totally ignorant of music copyright, they did not know how to handle the problem and they were fearful of telling Coyte that they had received such a huge bill.
I walked into their office while they were discussing the problem and I asked to see the detailed invoice. The main charges were for the opening and closing theme of the programme.
When at Movietonews, I was responsible for the completion of Music Cue Sheets for the Movietonews reel and any other productions, so that I alone among my, then current, colleagues, knew how it all worked. They had failed to return a cue sheet since they started work on the programme. When ITN were producing the programme, they had a blanket licence and paid a fixed fee each year, but MCPS decided that UPITN was worth milking.
I asked Crossland if the programme was broadcast in the various overseas territories as it was delivered, or did the clients take stories out of the Roving Report programme and use them in their own programme. They made some enquiries and found that of the dozen or so clients around the world, only two used the music.
I composed a letter for MCPS which stated that the usage of the film was minimal and applied only to two small territories overseas. We received a replacement invoice from them of less that £100. They all breathed a sigh of relief. This happened in 1968.
Almost ten years later, I was in discussion with Coyte about the size of my salary and that I should get more. He made some flippant remark about what had I contributed over the years. I did not mention British American Tobacco*, that would have made him mad, but, among many other items, I mentioned how I had saved the company a lot of money with the MCPS invoice. He said “That wasn’t you, that was Kenneth Warr”. I said ”Oh, he told you that did he ?”. “Perhaps you can tell me what he knew of Music Copyright at that time that would allow him to do so ?”.
The problem with Coyte was that he would not have believed me.
* The subject of a future article.
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