Obituary: Dennis Scuse
Wednesday 20 May 1998
In 1972 Visnews was the leading international television news agency. Reuters held the chairmanship. The other main owner, the BBC, provided the bulk of the staff. A new chief executive was needed and the general assumption was that Dennis Scuse should be appointed. He had an excellent record for the job.
Suddenly there was a hitch. The retiring Director-General of the BBC, Sir Charles Curran, discovered that he would no longer be eligible to hold an important post in the Euro- pean Broadcasting Union to which he had recently been elected if he had ceased to be an active broadcaster. He therefore applied for the vacant Visnews post.
The Visnews Board had no alternative. It would have been impossible to appoint anyone against the Director-General. Scuse withdrew and gradually moved into private consultancy. It spelled the end of his hitherto successful BBC career.
Scuse had joined the Army Broadcasting Service in the Second World War and had commanded stations in Bari, Rome and Athens. He was demobilised in 1946 and joined the Overseas Division of the BBC. He was seconded to the War Office for work in broadcasting for the forces. He served in Benghazi and in the British Forces network in Germany, where he introduced Two- Way Family Favourites, the programme that in turn introduced Jean Metcalfe to Scuse's number two in Hamburg, Cliff Michelmore.
He had been the chief television assistant in the BBC's New York office. He had also been the senior planning assistant under Joanna Spicer. He devised a system popular with television producers which enabled them to acquire extra programme money through "viewer participation".
This meant that the producer sold the right to rebroadcast the programme being made, in return for an advance of money for his or her programme budget. Thus the television service in general would not gain from a programme sale, but the individual programmes could be made self-supporting. Indeed it became almost impossible for programme offers to be accepted unless some "viewer participation" were promised.
Scuse went on to become the general manager of BBC television and radio enterprises for nine highly successful years. He was looking forward to the Visnews promotion which he had every right to expect until Sir Charles Curran's surprise action thwarted his prospects, and effectively ended his BBC career.
Dennis George Scuse, broadcasting executive: born 19 May 1921; Assistant Director, British Forces Network, Germany 1949-50, Director 1950-57; MBE 1957; Senior Planning Assistant, BBC TV 1958-59, Chief Assistant (Light Entertainment) 1960, Chief Assistant (TV), BBC New York Office 1960, General Manager, BBC TV Enterprises 1963-72, General Manager, BBC Radio Enterprises 1968-72; managing director, Trident International TV Enterprises 1972- 76; managing director, Dennis Scuse Ltd 1976-87; married 1948 Joyce Burt (one son); died Richmond, Surrey 30 April 1998.
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