Magazine article Marketing

Death of a Maverick Highlights How Dull Television Has Become

Magazine article Marketing

Death of a Maverick Highlights How Dull Television Has Become

Article excerpt

They held the funeral service on Tuesday for Bruce Gyngell, the legendary managing director of TV-am, the commercial station that once had to sell its advertising for [pound]250 per minute but became one of the world's most profitable broadcasters.

The extensive obituaries have noted all the main points -- the pink shirts and the trampoline in the office, the management service that transformed industrial relations and the loss of franchise. Then there was the moment at an awards ceremony when Bruce suddenly pulled out, and read, an emotional letter from Margaret Thatcher that came close to an apology.

Before finally letting him go, a few more words should be said about Gyngell, whose personal eccentricities sometimes obscured the evidence of a sharp TV brain. His [pound]14m a year bid for the commercial breakfast franchise, plus a 15% tax on advertising revenue, was based on the TV-am business plan. It may have been a touch conservative, but it was a lot closer to reality than the [pound]34.6m bid which won the franchise for GMTV.

Gyngell was not bitter about losing but took a little quiet pleasure in being proved right when GMTV turned out to be a profitless company until the Independent Television Commission revalued the franchise.

He was also one of the early supporters of the view that News at Ten should be moved if ITV was going to survive in an increasingly competitive age. A former regulator in Australia, he was convinced that less regulation was almost always a good idea. …

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