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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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Television's Creative Deficit

Television's Creative Deficit

The James MacTaggart Lecture 2002

(p.245) Television's Creative Deficit
Television Policy

Mark Thompson

Edinburgh University Press

In this lecture, the author, director general of the BBC, identifies a ‘creative deficit’ in British television resulting in many programmes appearing ‘dull and mechanical and samey’. The culprit is not competition, which can have positive effects, but a twofold conservatism: the ‘risk aversion of the schedule’ in combination with ‘an older cultural conformism’. The author argues that Channel 4 must be revitalised to resume its place as ‘the creative space in the centre of British television’ where it must offer a distinctive kind of public service programming to the BBC: ‘an improvised rhythm of experimentation and alternative ideas against the steady drum-beat of information, education and entertainment’. To achieve this, the author promises a fundamental review and restructuring of the schedule at Channel 4. He rejects privatisation but hints at the need for public support in the deregulated television market place. Government legislation, moreover, promises to liberalise media ownership in the commercial sector — creating the prospect of a single owner for Channel 3 — with evident and deleterious implications for the public sector of broadcasting, including Channel 4.

Keywords:   BBC, competition, Channel 4, restructuring, privatisation, Channel 3, broadcasting, public service programming

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