Audiences at the Cambridge Convention have grown accustomed to Ofcom chiefs who either “don’t think television is as special as people who work in television think it is” (Stephen Carter), or who are not averse to regulating more of the BBC (Ed Richards).
The RTS Cambridge Convention 2015 took place from Wednesday 16 to Friday 18 September, seeing senior leaders from the television industry on both sides of the Atlantic converge on the city.
The topics covered over the three days ranged from the importance of the BBC worldwide, to a debate about the lessons learnt from the General Election 2015, to the continued challenge that the television industry faces with the rise of video content emerging on digital platforms.
John Whittingdale is a conundrum. A politician who can seem old beyond his 55 years, he has been in Parliament since 1992, nine years longer than David Cameron. And, although only a few years older than his boss, Whittingdale’s style and political heritage are soundly late-Thatcher era, with a voting record that is pro-fox hunting and anti-gay marriage.
Yet, the freshly minted Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport also confounds stereotypes of the shire fogey with a mild interest in Gilbert and Sullivan.
Apparently, I've not contributed a diary since 2010. Perhaps I only get invited in election years. In May 2010, I was also asked to review the different channels' election coverage by The Guardian.
On that occasion, I called it decisively for Sky News. ITN was fine but less dramatic. And the BBC, with its ship-of-fools party and an over-academic Vernon Bogdanor and a swingometer that couldn't cope with a three-way race and, and, and...
With Team 56 – as SNP MPs call themselves – forming the third-largest party in Parliament, the impact on broadcasting in the UK is likely to be profound. And the effects are certain to spread beyond the BBC Charter debate.
The economist Jeremy Peat, a former BBC Scotland Governor and Trustee, observes that the general election outcome "represents a massive vote for change," requiring "not sticking plaster, but fundamental change." He adds: "We are miles away from a stable equilibrium."