WWFE Response to Backlash edits
Before I begin, I would like to talk about a WWF home video I have literally just finished watching. "Mick Foley: Madman Unmasked" (the A&E biography broadcast earlier this year, I believe) is a TERRIFIC complement to Mick's book. Although some of the revelations in this film are old news to those who have read the book, I especially enjoyed hearing about Hell in the Cell from both Taker and Vince's point of view, not to mention his brother John.
What was especially impressive was most of the first-time-seen-in-the-UK footage from Japan and ECW: shit, those suplexes onto the barbed wire ring 'ropes' looked absolutely brutal, not to mention the flaming chairshots and the slams onto fire!!!
This video received a "15" certificate from the BBFC (British Board of Film Classifcation), which really undermines Channel 4's argument that certain scenes are too graphic for broadcast at *ANY* time on UK television.
As far as the backlash against Channel 4's screening of Backlash, I received the following letter today from Andrew Whitaker, the Senior Vice President for International TV Distribution at WWFE.
It makes for some interesting, yet ultimately disappointing reading...
Dear Mr Craig While I am indeed sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction with the "quality of coverage" of WWFE on Channel 4, I feel obliged to review with you, an obviously dedicated fan, some realities, which it appears you already have a strong grasp of, where the UK market is concerned. For thirteen years, first with BSB and then BSKYB, WWF TV programming was exclusively licensed to the aforementioned Pay TV platform, only of late reaching 30 plus percent of the available UK TV households. In an effort to expand the availability of WWF content, the decision was made recently to branch out, with one weekly show and four specials, to the potential WWF audience not yet exposed to the WWF's continuous soap opera on BSKYB. Obviously, extensive interest from the Free TV networks in the UK put the WWF in a position to not only reach a million and a half more viewers per week via Channel 4, but also to double the amount of programs delivered to UK fans over BSKYB. Given the above, Channel 4 is indeed correct in saying that specials delivered free-to-air need to include commercial breaks. In order to insert these breaks, it is important to deliver the show on a dealyed live basis so as not to miss large portions of the action. However, I would be remiss in not saying that your understanding of the realities of Free TV versus Pay TV in the UK are correct, and that the 'editing requirements' of the ITC absolutely do play a major part in 'any' content delivered into the UK market. As US producers operating under the letter of the UK law (ITC Broadcast Code), we are obligated to perform certain edits for content delivered free-to-air. We don't like it either, but the law is the law. Again, while I understand your dismay at the results of the ITC programming code as it relates to Free TV, for WWF to say no to a Free Tv opportunity would result in the following: 1. No 100% penetration of the WWF branded product 2. Far less significant numbers of hours broadcast on BSKYB In closing, I would like to say that where "Backlash" was concerned, the minimum number of edits per ITC specification were performed. We at WWFE, abiding by UK Broadcast law, will continue to work out the kinks of delivering our specials via Free-to-air TV. It is my hope that in the process, WWF specials can be delivered with minor edits to you and a vast number of new WWF fans (1 million plus) eager to join the original WWF fans such as yourself. Sincerely, Andrew Whitaker Senior Vice President International TV DistributionSo, from this letter, it would appear that WWFE have *no* intentions of canning their relationship with Channel 4 quite yet.
However, what *does* anger me deeply, is how the WWF have seemingly been mislead by Channel 4 into thinking that different standards apply to terrestrial channels (as far as the depiction of violence is concerned), in comparison with satellite and cable channels.
Let me clarify that the ITC (Independent Television Commission: regulators of ALL commercial TV in the UK) have ONE SINGLE Programme Code, which is equally applied to all licensed broadcasters.
Therefore, for Channel 4 to apparently hoodwink the WWF into believing otherwise is a real shame.
After all, if Raw and Smackdown can be broadcast unedited from 10pm, and ECW Hardcore TV from 11pm (not to mention Nitro and Thunder from 9pm), then surely Channel 4 can air similar content unedited from 1-50am to 5am?
In closing, to accentuate the weakness of Channel 4's opinion on the objectionable levels of 'violence' contained in Backlash, on this week's episode of 'Buffy' on the BBC, broadcast between 6-45pm and 7-30pm, the character Oz got put through a table. Was it edited out? As a certain Tejas rattlesnake would say, "OH HELL NO!!!"