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Television PolicyThe MacTaggart Lectures$
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Bob Franklin

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780748617173

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748617173.001.0001

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Deregulation and Quality Television

Deregulation and Quality Television

The James MacTaggart Lecture 1990

(p.139) Deregulation and Quality Television
Television Policy

Verity Lambert

Edinburgh University Press

In this lecture, the author, a producer and director who has worked at the BBC and ITV, examines what can be done to preserve quality in the context of a broadcasting system experiencing deregulation, reflecting both government policy and the emergence of multichannel broadcasting. She begins with definitions but acknowledges that the notion of ‘quality’ is contested, and suggests that money is central since it allows high production values, well-researched television programmes, a good programme mix and funds innovation, risks and the occasional mistake. The inclusion of a ‘quality threshold’ in the Broadcasting Act 1990 is a significant amendment for Britain, but the Independent Television Commission must hold ITV companies to their programming commitments, especially the production and airing of documentaries and current affairs in prime time and the BBC and Channel 4 must ‘not lose their nerve’ when confronted by falling ratings. The author concludes by considering the role of programme makers (in-house and independents) in sustaining quality, focusing on independent production. Establishing an association for independents would help eliminate the fragmentation and competition between them which can reduce programme quality.

Keywords:   quality, broadcasting, Britain, BBC, ITV, Broadcasting Act 1990, deregulation, television programmes, Independent Television Commission, independent production

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