RTS early-evening event report: Rt Hon Maria Miller MP

RTS early-evening event report: Rt Hon Maria Miller MP

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Thursday, 14th February 2013

In her first appearance at a Royal Television Society event culture secretary Maria Miller singled out the UK broadcasting sector for being a SgreatT British industry.       

Despite a Schallenging yearT, which had seen the BBC in big trouble over Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine "no one should be in any doubt that this truly is a great British industry,T noted the secretary of state.   

TV matters to people up and down the country and that is why the forthcoming roll-out of local television is so important, emphasised Miller.

From the Diamond Jubilee Concert, the Olympics and Paralympics, to the Downton Abbey Christmas special, 2012 provided plenty of memorable moments.

SBut it’s not just these pinnacle moments that viewers value. It’s the high-quality content they can rely on day-in, day-out; week-in, week-out," stressed the minister. 

SIt’s Corrie, it’s Black Mirror, it’s Call the Midwife, it’s Yes Prime Minister.

SIt’s the hundreds of hours of educational programmes for children and informative documentaries for adults.

Television is a Swindow on cultureT and part of culture itself. 

Channels such as Sky Arts and programmes like The Culture Show offer insights and analysis into contemporary culture, but television shows such as Borgen and The Killing are contemporary culture, opined the politician, who was appointed Jeremy Hunt’s successor last September.  

The huge number of channels available in the UK provides viewers with arguably the best-quality programmes in the world. 

SIt is this dynamic, connected, competitive ecosystem that allows the sector to adapt so effectively to new technologies SThis has been well demonstrated over the past year as the much-valued Freeview service has helped us complete the enormous digital-switchover project.T

She was confident that the sector’s ability would allow television to benefit from the changes in technology.

Miller singled out the important economic contribution that television makes at home and abroad.

SThe broadcasting sector has a vital role to play in helping secure that growth, given the billions of pounds you contribute each year to the economy,T she said.

Internationally, British formats continue to take the world by storm.   

Miller said: SYou shouldn’t be surprised to see the peculiarly-named Arab’s Got Talent in the Middle East or Ecuador Tiene Talente in South America.

SYou can even see a local version of Come Dine With Me – temptingly titled Come for Dinner – in Iran.T

Television also affects the way the UK is perceived internationally – sometimes in unexpected ways. 

SOne of our ambassadors in South America has discovered that a frighteningly high proportion of locals didn’t realise that Downton Abbey is set a century ago, and genuinely believe that it portrays life in Britain today!T

In a subsequent wide-ranging question-and-answer session chaired by RTS President Sir Peter Bazalgette, Miller was quizzed about such topics as the renewal of the BBC's Royal Charter and the Government’s controversial post-Leveson plans to regulate the press.

She also reiterated her department’s determination that BSkyB should stop charging the BBC and other public service broadcasters re-transmission fees.

As for her own viewing choices, the secretary of state singled out two Channel 4 shows, Homeland and Black Mirror, as among her favourite viewing options.

A full report of the event will be published in the March edition of Television.

Report by Steve Clarke

Pictures by Paul Hampartsoumian.


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