Meet the Controllers at MGEITF

When: August 27 – 29, 2010

Where: The Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland

MacTaggart Lecture

MacTaggart Lecture at the MGEITF

As part of the annual MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, the Meet the Controller sessions are an invaluable source of information aimed to provide a rare glimpse into the inner workings of some of the world’s top broadcasters, and how their priorities, plans and challenges will affect the television landscape in 2011 and beyond.

What to expect from channel controllers in 2010

Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC TWO
After break-out successes including Wonders of the Solar System and Miranda, BBC Two is clearly finding its own distinctive voice within BBC’s channel portfolio. With a projected budget increase of £25m, Controller Janice Hadlow promises to ‘brain up, not dumb down’ as she sets her sights on BBC Two becoming the destination for intelligent and ambitious programming. But will this new direction manage to capture the next generation of viewers, whilst also satisfying the traditional BBC Two audience?

Richard Klien, Controller BBC Four
Whether it’s Stephen Fry exploring Wagner or Timothy Spall going out to sea, BBC Four strives to bring thoughtful intelligent television to the masses. It has the distinction of perhaps being the only channel in the past year to be guilty of being TOO funny and entertaining – at least that would seem the conclusion as the BBC’s Strategic Review found that there should be a refocus with less comedy and entertainment. Now with arts, music, culture and knowledge at its core, controller Richard Klein explains why less is more and what the future has in store.

Jay Hunt, Controller BBC One
It’s been another good year for the BBC One trophy cabinet and with serious arts, factual and food content all making a comeback in peak, Jay Hunt is keen for the channel to continue taking creative risks. Along with standout performances from Eastenders Live, Let’s Dance For Sports Relief and Five Daughters, there has also been heated debate over ageism in Strictly Come Dancing, scheduling clashes with ITV1 and the changes to The One Show. So what will the year ahead bring for the channel and how can it continue to take creative risks without losing its heartland audience?

Stuart Murphy, Director of Programmes, Sky1 HD, Sky1, 2 & 3
In his first full year at Sky1, Stuart Murphy has embarked on plans to commission fewer programmes – but with a much higher profile. Now with the channel losing three of its biggest hitting shows in quick succession – Lost, 24 and the surprise hit of the year, Pineapple Dance Studios – there are big holes to fill in the schedule. And what will Sky’s acquisition of the Virgin Media platforms mean for Stuart, and for all the channels now under the Sky umbrella?

Claudia Rosencrantz, Director of Television, LIVING TV Group
From LIVING’s Four Weddings to Bravo’s gladiator drama, Spartacus, the last twelve months have bought diverse hits for the LIVING TV Group. But in an era that sees digital channels fighting for survival, what does the next year hold for this feisty broadcaster? How will its takeover by BSkyB play out? And more importantly, just what will Katie Price do next?

Matthew Littleford, Controller UKTV
With UKTV’s ambitious re-branding delivering further breakout successes, Controller Matthew Littleford continues to re-position the network as a major player. We’ve seen Russia Brought Britain pulling in plaudits and punters, and Argumental landing on terrestrial television. Now Matthew discusses his plans to ensure continued growth. How will UKTV face the challenges of broadcaster consolidation in an all-media-everywhere marketplace, continuing to fulfil its obligations as a showcase for the BBC’s archive?

Zai Bennett, Director of Digital Channels and Acqusitions, ITV
It may have been tough on Peter, but for ITV2 the breakdown of his marriage to Katie turned out to be pretty good news, giving the channel some of its highest ratings for original content. Likewise, the spin-offs from ITV1 still do fantastically well with Britain’s Got More Talent beating ITV1’s drama The Prisoner. So where does Zai Bennett take ITV2 from here? What’s he got planned for ITV3 and ITV4 after a tough year? And what are ITV2’s plans without Katie?

Julian Bellamy, Acting Chief Creative Officer, Channel 4
On and off screen it’s all change at Channel 4, as a new Chairman and a new Chief Executive enter, and Big Brother exits. So how will Channel 4 cope with the loss of its most valued family member? And how will it capitalize on the success of shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and The Million Pound Drop? All will be revealed as Julian Bellamy tells us why this is the most exciting time in the history of the channel and just what he plans to do with all that airtime.

Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC Three
BBC Three’s audience share has grown by a staggering 28% since its relaunch in 2008. Controller Danny Cohen puts its success down to the knowing its audience and the quality of shows like Blood Sweat & Luxuries and Dancing on Wheels. But where will the channel go from here? What is its strategy online? And how will he maintain his audience share against strong competition from his digital rivals? Danny reveals his strategy for keeping BBC Three at the top of its game.

Peter Fincham, Director of Television, ITV
The industry voted it last year’s Channel of the Year at the Broadcast Awards 2010 and after a tough time, advertisers are once again gaining in confidence in ITV1 – and why not when people in their millions continue to tune in to The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Doc Martin? Key to this success is celebrity talent which will be strengthened by the surprise return of Paul O’Grady and the addition of Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley. Peter Fincham reveals his plans for the future.

Richard Woolfe, Controller, Five
The months preceding August are now traditionally rife with speculation that RTL are selling Five. Whilst some have doubted its future, the irony that it was one of only two terrestrial channels to increase its share in 2009 will not have been lost on Richard Woolfe. An encouraging first quarter and deals with CBS and YouTube all sound good, but have much-trumpeted shows like Live From Studio Five and FlashForward performed as well as Richard had hoped, and more importantly, what’s next?

Paul Mortimer, Acting Head of E4, Channel 4 & Hamish Mykura, Head of Documentaries & More4, Channel 4
Hamish Mykura wants More4 to be the channel that everyone is talking about and hopes event TV like Crufts is the way to do it. But on a channel dominated by repeats of big audience pullers like Come Dine With Me and Grand Designs, how will Mykura make sure More4’s original programming gets noticed?

Big hitters like Skins, The Inbetweeners, Glee and recent BAFTA award winner Misfits have kept E4 right on the money, but it’s going to be an interesting year as the channel faces up to its biggest challenge yet – the loss of behemoths Friends and Big Brother. How can the 16-34 friendly station maintain its profile and performance with the hundreds of new hours needing to be filled?

Other discussion events at the MGEITF

Charlie Brooker at a MGEITF session from a previous year

With 3D TV now a reality in the UK, MGEITF will be dedicating a number of sessions to the subject which will explore different genres and budgets, a step-by-step guide on how to produce in 3D, a debate on how 3D could change and reinvigorate the popularity of various genres, plus a showcase of the latest 3D content and kit.

MGEITF has teamed up with the UK’s leading games conference, Edinburgh Interactive, so delegates can swap ideas with leading figures in the games industry. In How To Get Into Games gaming commissioners will be pitched ideas by TV producers and TV commissioners will be presented with ideas from games producers in order to learn what each thinks is important in a good entertainment proposition.

See more about this strand of the  festival

Deborah Turness, 2010 MGEITF Advisory Chair and Editor of ITV News, said: “In keeping with our times this year’s Festival will be a coalition of agenda-setting content that will shape the direction of the industry and inspirational, creative stimulation. With the Conservative/Murdoch Alliance now in Number 10, Mark Thompson’s MacTaggart could not be more timely. The big question: will David Cameron demand “savage” cuts at the BBC, and is radical change coming our way? While the festival is about addressing key industry issues, it is also about celebrating and learning from our top creative talent and we are delighted that Paul Abbott has agreed to deliver the Alternative MacTaggart Lecture.”

To find out more, and to register, visit

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