Magazine article Marketing

Moral Minority

Magazine article Marketing

Moral Minority

Article excerpt

"I am not a moralist. I am not Mary White-house." Bruce Gyngell, chief executive of Yorkshire Television, is a man who speaks in sweeping statements, and in one sentence can invoke controversy. His latest move, to take Hollywood Lovers off prime-time ITV in the Yorkshire-Tyne Tees region, grabbed national newspaper headlines last week and reopened the debate on media morality.

Gyngell's quest to clean up television has met with the approval of his audience. Well, that's what he says. YTTV's potential audience of 8.4 million viewers was instead treated to The Best of Whicker's World. Unofficial viewing figures showed that just 918,000 people tuned in, in stark contrast to over 1.4 million who tuned in to Hollywood Men last February.

Although he dismisses accusations of censorship, Gyngell is confident he is doing the right thing. "I have a gut feeling about these things. You don't treat an audience in a cavalier fashion. I do believe that I am in tune with audiences."

His argument is that no society believes sex should be performed in public, so why should it be acceptable on TV? "People don't get down on a cocktail party floor and get on with it, do they?" he thunders.

So is Gyngell a prude? No, say those who know him. He's far from politically correct, according to one ex-colleague. "There is this strange dichotomy, that one minute he will moralise and the next minute he makes a comment about some woman walking down the corridor and her large breasts."

Born in Melbourne in 1929, he is described as a tall, slim man who is nor without sex appeal. Gyngell was the first person to appear on Australian TV when it launched in 1956, as an announcer for Channel 9. Eight years later he became the station's managing director.

He is a man of outward contradictions, being overtly emotional, yet possessing a ruthless streak. On the one hand, he encouraged a family atmosphere at TV-am, where he told staff to wear pink because it was an uplifting colour, and discouraged black. But when the technicians went on strike in 1987 he unceremoniously sacked 229 of them.

Gyngell's penchant for pink hasn't rubbed off on all his colleagues, but the sentiment has. BSkyB sales and marketing director Tony Vickers, an ex-colleague at TV-am and godfather to Gyngell's son Harry, says: "TV-am was run as a family. …

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