Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: ITV Presents United Front

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: ITV Presents United Front

Article excerpt

The broadcaster chose the Edinburgh TV Festival as a platform to make clear its views on regulation.

Edinburgh is a great city for a wee dram, but it's quite a long way to go on a bank holiday weekend just to attack television regulators.

However, ITV clearly thought the effort was worth it, as demonstrated by its appearance at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Since the reign of Charles Allen, the channel's policy has been consistent: to shift public-service obligations as quickly as possible and ditch its cumbersome and expensive contract rights renewal (CRR) licences, at the same time if at all possible.

Not to suggest that ITV's director of television, Peter Fincham, and commercial and brand managing director, Rupert Howell, co-ordinated their efforts at the festival, but their contributions were complementary: singing the same tune in different keys.

Fincham was the MacTaggart Lecturer of the Year. His selection for the keynote speech was an obvious choice, as festival attendees clearly hoped to get the behind-the-scenes story on Fincham's scapegoating by and eventual resignation from the BBC last year following a scandal regarding the Queen's portrayal in a photography shoot and documentary.

But damn it, the man was far too nice. Fincham's lecture saw not even the mildest attempt to settle scores - hardly a lecture in the best traditions of the MacTaggart. In an unheard-of move, he even wrote the speech himself, rather than relying on the usual committee or 21-year-old consultant.

He told expectant delegates that he merely hit his iceberg - a disappointing and limp explanation.

Afterwards, Fincham said privately he could not attack the BBC, because he loved it - a clear case of Stockholm Syndrome if ever I've seen one.

Fincham was passionate in his defence of popular television and his attack on the regulators, always a perfect and undemanding target. With a swift verbal blow, he denounced their definition of public-service broadcasting as a recipe for 'the niche, the marginal, the worthy'.

He even accused independent regulator Ofcom of seeing television as a kind of social engineering, claiming it had no emphasis on entertainment or mass audience.

Howell, too, disparaged the regulators in his contribution to the festival, as leader of a panel session entitled 'How to Save ITV'. …

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