The challenges of a shifting TV landscape will be discussed by television executives at this year's RTS Cambridge Convention, chaired by BBC Director-General Tony Hall.
For decades, putting members of the public on screen was a win-win situation. From Blind Date to The Generation Game, from Survivor to Big Brother, there was always new fodder for the tabloids, huge audiences for advertisers – including that vital but hard to reach 16-24 demographic – and, for ordinary folk, the chance for a few dazzling moments to make their lives extraordinary.
On the eve of the publication of Ofcom’s much-anticipated review of public service broadcasting (PSB), big names from the BBC and Channel 4, past and present, discussed whether British broadcasting was in crisis.
Ofcom warned that PSB is unlikely to survive in the online world without an overhaul of broadcasting regulation. It said that the public service broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, STV, Channel 4, S4C and Channel 5 – could also fulfil their obligations online, and that the public service remit could be extended to the big streamers.
The thought, back in January, that 2020 was going to be a challenging year now feels like the understatement of the century. Shortly after the pandemic took hold in the UK, we slammed into lockdown and everyday life as we knew it was upended.
Covid-19 dominated every headline. Viewers tuned into the news in record numbers as reports of its merciless spread and millions of victims shook us to the core. But then came the horrific story of another victim who was also shown no mercy. The deplorable killing of George Floyd, in May, sent shockwaves through our society.
This was always going to be a big year for Ofcom. Its to-do list for 2020 includes: overhauling the telecoms market and upgrading the UK’s broadband network; a major review of public service broadcasting and its future in the face of changing technology and audience habits and huge global competition; tackling both “online harm” and industry diversity issues; updating EU “audio-visual services” rules post Brexit; and, as the BBC’s regulator, trying to sharpen the corporation’s performance and decision-making.
Veteran presenter Lorraine Kelly led a storming session on the challenge of social mobility in the TV industry, telling the Cambridge audience it was “a miracle I’m standing here talking to you”.
Thirty-five years after the Scottish presenter first appeared on our screens, she remembered: “My TV career was almost over before it began. Being working class when I started out meant a lot of doors in telly were firmly closed to me.”
Trust isn’t scientific, it’s instinctive, it comes from the gut, not from the brain,” Martin Lewis told the Cambridge audience, and he should know. The founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, consumer business warrior and the man who sued Facebook and won is also the most trusted man in Britain, according to Google.
In her third and final appearance at an RTS Cambridge Convention, the outgoing CEO of Ofcom, Sharon White, gave a candid insight into what she described as the regulator’s tense relationship with the BBC, and reflected on why the TV industry had failed to improve its record on diversity.
At her final Cambridge, Ofcom’s CEO Sharon White talks to ITN’s Julie Etchingham about the challenges facing our industry.