We first learnt that it doesn't in the 1970s, with the introduction of multi-screen cinemas. "Oh good," we thought, "six screens to choose from, so we outside London will get the Woody Allen films as well." Try seeing The Castle or The Spanish Prisoner this week outside London - it's Armageddon or Lost in Space at two screens each for the third week running.
The same applies to television. The more channels there are, the more alike the programming, because they all want to make shows that are cheap and massively popular (rather than moderately successful). There are entire nights now in which peak time is wall-to-wall soaps, docu-soaps or formula sitcoms starring ex-soap actors.
And Peter Bazalgette (Podium, 31 August) wants to pretend that it is all somehow very democratic that we "the people" are at long last having our say and should be freed from the "snooty regulation" of regulatory institutions. In support of this he argues that we do not sell enough of our programmes overseas, so they cannot be very good.
Sales are not an indicator of quality, but of cost. Good-quality television costs money to make, unlike the talk show trash which exploits the vulnerability of ordinary people. If we must go down this road, let us at least be honest about it - what drives the programme makers is the need for profit, delivering fragmented audiences to hungry advertisers at minimum cost.Reuse content