Selling out British TV

The furore over the paying off of Michael Green – founder of Carlton Television and one time chairman designate of ITV – continues with his £15m compensation approved as ‘a matter of law [i.e. it was in his contract], not a matter of fairness [i.e. despite his presiding over commercial failure]’.

Green’s commercial failings dominate discussion, although the trade press report that revenues are at last turning around. Yet nobody seems to discuss the total creative failure of ITV and how Green’s vision accelerated this. Taking a look at a typical Saturday night schedule you find – You’ve Been Framed, Stars In Their Eyes, It’ll Be Alright On The Night – the same programmes you watched as kid with your granny ten or twenty years ago.

Yet behind the scenes, television has experienced a revolution. The Carlton that took the London TV franchise from Thames TV in 1993 was a very different animal; making no programmes itself it published independent producers work instead. With TV production fragmented – many companies only make one series – few have the resources to train new talent. Television is a career for those who can afford to work for free in their early years. And creativity has clearly suffered.

Meanwhile, the BBC advertises for a new controller of BBC Two, to replace Jane Root. Root is a list maniac who lobotomised the arts and documentary channel – successfully winning viewers – with nonsense like Britain’s favourite sitcom, Britain’s favourite book, Britain’s favourite poem etc, etc. More on her here.

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