Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Ofcom Chief Right to Be a Realist over Future of Current Affairs TV

Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Ofcom Chief Right to Be a Realist over Future of Current Affairs TV

Article excerpt

Even before it takes over its full powers on December 29, Ofcom is already giving out the clearest signs that it plans to be an influential force in the UK communications industry.

The measured performance of Ed Richards at the Royal Television Society (RTS) last week gave the best indication so far of what might result.

Richards, an architect of the Communications Act and the senior partner in charge of the public service broadcasting review, produced what could be interpreted as a gloomy prognosis, particularly for news and current affairs.

He noted that Panorama is not at the margin of peak on Sunday nights and Tonight with Trevor McDonald may have many merits, but does not bear comparison with 'the heady days' of the 80s and the likes of World in Action and Weekend World.

Let's leave aside the fact that Weekend World was one of the most boring, closed-minded programmes ever broadcast on British television, watched by hardly anyone, and that Sunday lunch time is a long way from peak of any kind.

The general thrust of what Richards was saying is palpably true. Multi-channel television has undermined forever the ability of broadcasters to spoon-feed a reluctant populace with doses of current affairs.

The Richards speech was interpreted by many, including a number of television executives at the RTS dinner, as denouncing the state of current affairs and turning his back on the achievements of the past. Leslie Hill, former managing director of Central, argued that there was more public service content on a single channel in the 50s than there is on hundreds now. …

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