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.
At a time when many observers fear decisions on broadcasting matters, from the size (or existence) of the BBC licence fee to the possible privatisation of Channel 4, will be politically motivated, Ofcom Chief Executive Melanie Dawes was keen to stress her organisation’s independence – regardless of who is finally appointed Chair of the regulator or who had just been made culture secretary.
The Ofcom Chief Executive in conversation with journalist Clive Myrie about the future of public service broadcasting and how to respond to the rapidly changing media landscape.
Few broadcasting controversies generate as much heat as the vexed topic of selling off Channel 4 – and so it proved at an engaging RTS debate held late last month, “Levelling up: How much could privatisation change Channel 4’s remit?”.
The remit has evolved over time. Since the 2003 Communications Act, the broadcaster’s remit has been largely voluntary. David Elstein, the former Thames, Sky and Channel 5 executive, provocatively claimed that the remit is nowadays “mostly mythical."
All eyes will be on Melanie Dawes when she speaks at the RTS Cambridge Convention in mid-September. The CEO of Ofcom for the past tumultuous 18 months was preceded by the charismatic Sharon White – a star attraction at the conference whenever she spoke.
“Melanie Dawes is the most experienced and impressive Chief Executive that Ofcom has had,” opines an industry insider. And this will be the first opportunity most of her audience has had to hear her in person, thanks to the pandemic.
Public service broadcasters have a “fleetingly short space of time” to find a better financing model – and without guaranteed prominence on smart TVs, “PSB is dead, it is over”. These were just two of the stark warnings aired at an RTS panel discussion “Small beer or big deal: Should we still care about PSB?”.
I can confirm that, growing up as a kid in south-east London, I never once dreamt about becoming a regulator. You know – running organisations that begin with the letters “Of...”. To be honest, I’m not sure that I know anyone who did.
And I’ve certainly not met anyone who had photos of great regulators – if there are any – on their bedroom walls. Me: I just wanted to play for Spurs and open the batting for India. Before you complain, it is possible to feel Indian and British, even English, all at the same time, especially if you weren’t born here.
With Ofcom’s ‘Small Screen: Big Debate’ consultation on the future of public service broadcasting (PSB) having just closed, and the DCMS Select Committee having just published its report on the future of PSB, an expert panel takes a look at what kind of PSB system we want over the next decade.
Jennifer Anafi-Acquah, Assistant Producer
Emily Bell, Founding Director and Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism, Tow Center for Digital Journalism
David Mortimer, Managing Director, STV Studios
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.