"Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria couldn't have invented a crazier
Harry Turner, Chief Executive of TSW
"Franchise applications are recognised to include
an amount of window dressing"
Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria's Guide to Winning or Losing an
What follows should not be considered financial advice.
Any resemblance to tactics used by real ITV companies is purely
It is hard to break in against the tenant, even if their performance
has been poor. The following tactics can be used:
The bidding. Just use bluffing tactics; if your consortium boasts
John Paul Getty II and Richard Branson bid as low as you dare, tempting the
others to blow themselves out bidding too high. On the other hand if
you are a rag-bag of unknowns bid high as your only chance.
- Make sure you are not too rude about the current contractor. Just
indicate that you think you could do better. Remember, your opponent
might lose to you, yet win a different franchise, and could block your
- Study your opponent carefully. Don't concentrate on the weaknesses;
make sure that you cover the strengths too, so that the ITC doesn't
have any special circumstances to consider.
- Pack as many well known names into your bid as you can. If you can't
name them, imply that you have several who cannot divulge their names
at the moment. It doesn't matter that you will be dispensing with
them after six months.
- If you are not based in the local area, try to get to the
independent producers first. If you can't, promise to set some
- If there is a minority language in your area, include a programme
to be broadcast in it. This includes any local incomprehensible
dialect of English.
- If you are going for one of the medium-sized areas or larger you can
include plans for network programmes. Smaller companies should include
some vague wish to do so "if allowed", but should stress the local
- Try to include another current franchise holder in your bid. This
is not as difficult as it might sound, since most of the companies
hate each other really, and see this as a way of getting back at
one another. Don't let this violate the first point though.
Incumbents should be in a strong position, since they ought to possess
the greatest knowledge about the potential of their area. There
are many pitfalls to avoid to counterbalance this inherent advantage.
The cash bid tactics are varied. Hopefully you have knocked out
your competition by signing them up, or splitting your region into
at least three sub-regions for local news purposes to make a newcomers'
life difficult. If this hasn't proved possible you have the high or
low strategy to follow:
- Many companies, particularly the bigger ones, forget that they
are supposed to be serving the needs of a particular area. This
means they can be criticised for their lack of local identity.
Launch a campaign in your local newspapers urging people to write
into you telling you what you should be doing. Invite some Lord Mayors
and Lords Lieutenants to a gala dinner and make them feel important.
Ensure that you include all those on the fringes of
your area, in particular if they have a transmitter covering their
town or city that they might try to get the ITC to switch to an alternative
- Tie up as many of the independent producers in your locality as
you can, thus preventing any incomer poaching them. Promise them
prime time slots, which you can claim later that the ITV Network
Centre won't give you after all, and then compensate them with a half
hour at 2am.
- Make sure you time your really expensive glossy programmes
to coincide with both delivery of the bid, and the time that
the result is announced. The latter is especially important if
you want to rely on special circumstances.
- Play on your past, even though the franchise round is supposed
to be about the future.
- If in a country other than England, curry favour of your national
- Smaller areas should not get sudden delusions of grandeur, promising
to produce the next Moll Flanders, but stress coverage of the local
- Don't challenge the authority of the ITC - at least until you
know that you have lost.
HIGH: A straight forward bid-as-
much-as-you-dare. Divest yourself of a large amount of your staff.
Sell all your company Rolls-Royces apart from your own. Keep your
fingers crossed that you haven't overdone it. If it seems too
much later, just plead for it to be reduced, claiming that you
didn't know about all these new competing cable and satellite
services (even if you have invested in some).
LOW: Reason that your competitors will
bid high and be considered to have a poor financial plan. Don't
go to cheeky extremes, so that the use of special circumstances
isn't made to look too much of a financial loss.
MAD King Ludwig of Bavaria