Dear Janet Street-Porter

We're told your rift with MacKenzie led to flickering reception, but isn't it true that your interest in Live TV fizzled out along with the bid for Channel 5?
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The Independent Online
"Bosnia it ain't" was how Kelvin MacKenzie described the contribution your erstwhile cable channel, Live TV, would make to British broadcasting. Well, judging by the Balkan-like falling-out between the pair of you, I'd say Bosnia was exactly what it was.

Your MacTaggart lecture, which opened the Edinburgh Television Festival last month, echoed around the Kirk of St Cuthbert like a Sarajevan cri de coeur from an oppressed programme maker whose production budgets were under daily siege from the money men.

Bright young talent and creativity were being stifled by the "M people", you said - the middle-class, middle-brow, mediocre and, worst of all, male executives running British television. You mentioned no names, but of course those of us listening in the hall couldn't help thinking of the most dreaded M of them all - MacKenzie, overall head of the Mirror Group's television interests.

What I'm interested in is the true story. Reports of the mutual contempt in which you and Mr MacKenzie are said to have held each other have cropped up in newspapers these past few months more times than exploded colostomy bags on The Word.

When you announced last year that you were leaving the BBC to head up Live TV alongside the former editor of the Sun, the words "clash", "personality" and "monumental" came to mind. And so it proved, we're led to believe. You, the creative supernova responsible for ground-breaking television such as Network 7 and Def II, soon became exasperated with the corporate power games of the boardroom. Is it true that you made a sign with the letters DOT written on it in capital letters to flash at the only other woman at Mirror Group board meetings? Not because her name was Dorothy, but because it summed up how you thought business was being conducted (DOT for "dicks on table").

Either way, Kelvin was not impressed. Apparently, when you once left a meeting early for an appointment with your osteopath, razor-sharp MacKenzie told the other blokes present that a plastic surgeon would be more like it. To which you said, we're told: "Hey, Kelvin - we're exactly the same age. Funny, innit?"

It was all about competing visions. You wanted to continue with the sort of experimental programming that made your name. Your masters, with a keener eye on the maths of cable television, demanded shed-loads of the cheap and cheerful sandwiched between the odd exclusive sports deal.

Then came Edinburgh. MacKenzie sniffed a broadside and supposedly demanded a preview of your speech. You obliged, but late in the afternoon, when it was too late to make changes. In it, you complained that bloke culture was destroying television.

Did MacKenzie take it personally? Put it this way - you disappear on a walking holiday and while you're away he secures secondary rights to the rugby league World Cup. I'm not sure that men in shorts running around with odd-shaped balls was what you had in mind for the brave new dawn in British television. Or maybe it was.

I've spoken to a couple of friends of yours and they reckon you were never serious about this Live TV lark. Apparently, you always knew it would prove as big a ratings hit as the All-Iceland Geyser Blowing Championships hosted by Terry Christian. You joined because you had your eye on the Mirror Group's bid for a Channel 5 licence. When that collapsed, so did your future with the company.

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