Media: Can we still make them like we used to?: Factual programming can survive the threat of US-style 'infotainment', argues David Glencross
Wednesday 09 March 1994
John Chancellor, of NBC, has written of 'pelvic news'. Neil Postman, the American academic admittedly not renowned for his love or respect for television, says that 'television is at its most trivial, and therefore most dangerous, when its aspirations are high', and that it causes most forms of discussion to become 'shrivelled and absurd'; he believes it has made Americans 'the best entertained and quite likely the least well-informed people in the Western world'.
It couldn't possibly be like that in Britain, could it? I am not so sure. Factual programmes still have a considerable presence in peak time across all four (terrestrial) channels, but the mix has changed. There are many more programmes reconstructing crime, vicarious exposure of disasters, and exploitations of people's sex lives.
Interestingly, Channel 4, the statutory showcase of innovation, is the principal standard-bearer of peak-time documentary work in the old tradition, with Dispatches and Cutting Edge. That said, ITV's Network centre is coming up with first-rate Network First documentaries. The last month has seen programmes on black American fighter pilots, children of the Holocaust and on East Timor. That is not a narrow domestic agenda. What I believe the ITV network needs is a little more adventure and risk. An occasional evening dip in the ratings does not spell the end of life as we know it.
David Glencross is chief executive of the Independent Television Commission. This is an extract from his speech last night to the Royal Television Society.
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...