Fran Unsworth used her recent conversation with the RTS to support incoming Director-General Tim Davie’s statement of 5 June, when he stressed the need for impartiality across the organisation, regardless of whatever battles between the BBC and government might be going on behind the scenes. “The more valuable we are to audiences, the greater our standing is going to be with the Government,” the BBC’s director of news and current affairs said firmly.
But the economic fallout from the lockdown will mean that the PSBs will face a fight to sustain the high-quality programmes and services to which audiences are accustomed.
This stark message was made in a RTS Cymru Wales webinar featuring a panel made up of the heads of the country’s broadcasting organisations.
Taking part in “Broadcasting in Wales: Lockdown and beyond” were: Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of BBC Cymru Wales; Phil Henfrey, head of news and programmes at ITV Cymru Wales; and Owen Evans, chief executive of S4C.
“The biggest issue when we started gearing up to re-start production about six weeks ago was fear,” said John Whiston, who as ITV’s managing director of continuing drama is responsible for running flagship soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
He said that production staff and talent needed reassuring after being isolated at home watching news coverage of the pandemic every night for weeks.
More than 30 years ago, I sat in the St George’s Medical School library in Tooting, south London, contemplating a framed cowhide that belonged to a beast called Blossom. The hide came from the cow that the great 18th-century physician Edward Jenner, the founder of immunology, used in an experiment to demonstrate his vaccine against smallpox. Fast forward 33 years and here we are during a pandemic that will last for many months to come.