lot ofviewers will have read the ruling on Channel 4 made by the A broadcasting regulator Ofcom and have rightly concluded that there's one rule for ordinary members of the public and another for those who live in media land. Andy Duncan, the channel's chief executive, appeared on Channel 4 News last Thursday, contrite but not grovelling. As a result of Ofcom's findings he has to make three on-air apologies for the on-air bullying of Shilpa Shetty (pictured right) during the last run of Celebrity Big Brother - one directly before the new series starts this Wednesday. The channel was not fined, and according to Mr Duncan "it was not a matter for resignations".
If the chief executive of any other major business in this country had overseen something which resulted in 54,000 complaints from the public, they would have resigned on the spot. Imagine Stuart Rose getting that much flak from his customers at Marks & Sparks; he'd personally mail out apologies while packing his briefcase. Mr Duncan admitted that mistakes had been made, and tells us he has instituted a "10-point plan" to ensure that a similar situation never arises again.
He also came up with the astonishing observation that broadcasters had to start thinking of viewers "as real people and not just ratings". Doesn't that just about sum up so much of what was wrong about that series of Big Brother? When the phone lines were in meltdown, when there were riots in India, when Gordon Brown publicly urged his wife to vote for Shilpa, surely a little light bulb should have illuminated inside Mr Duncan's brain indicating that perhaps all was not well in his empire?
Having taken part in a popular reality show, and spent 30 years working in television, I can assure you that most producers do consider viewers as real people - people they want to please, to entertain and to inform - but it is their bosses, the executives who run channels and who seek nothing more than ratings success, who ruthlessly schedule great programmes opposite each other, denying the viewer choice, and who continue to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in their quest for more viewers.
These head honchos need their channel, and not their …