Edinburgh Television Festival: Satellite shopping tipped to boom despite cool reception: Rhys Williams catches up with the gossip among the media luvvies at the Edinburgh festival

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The Independent Online
HOW KEEN are the British on shopping by satellite? Not very, judging by the experience of the QVC satellite shopping channel launched in Britain last autumn which is losing dollars 15m ( pounds 9.67m) a year. But Barry Diller, the chairman and chief executive of the American company, told journalists in Edinburgh that the British were no different to Americans and that QVC would eventually surpass catalogues, although it would not replace shops.

STEVE HEWLETT, editor of Inside Story, the BBC's flagship documentary series, told a session debating the significance of Hollywood women that the focus and agenda of factual programmes had changed. They now concerned themselves with human interest stories, crime and royalty and the challenge for programme-makers was to try to expand that agenda. The problem was that those making the programmes had found out that this tabloid agenda was what the audience wanted.

'YOU CAN call me minister,' said a cheerful sun-tanned David Mellor, the former Secretary of State for National Heritage, who has returned early from a holiday in Switzerland to research over two days an updated Broadcasting Act. 'I've got survivability, I'm only rivalled by Jeffrey Archer,' he quipped.

MANY OF the luvvies and darlings gathered in Edinburgh for their ritual, August Bank Holiday bout of navel-gazing have been wrestling with the trials of getting great drama on screen. If only all programme ideas were as destined for the ratings stratosphere as the hypothetical series devised by Tom Gutteridge, chief executive of Mentorn Films, for a workshop on Saturday morning. Emergency West 10 - an everyday tale of swabs, scalpels and organ transplants, starring Letitia Dean as a pregnant brain surgeon, Wendy Richards as matron and Gillian Taylforth as a member of a crack new team of Range Rover-driving paramedics - always on hand for some roadside relief.

INTRODUCING Greg Dyke, the group chief executive and formerly managing director of London Weekend Television, before he gave the James MacTaggart lecture on Friday, Gus Macdonald, the managing director of Scottish Television, warned the audience that Mr Dyke tended to think faster than he could speak. 'At an LWT board meeting, the chairman put his head on the table. 'What are you doing?' a colleague asked. 'I'm looking for the end of Greg's sentences'.'

APART from the temperature of the draught Budweiser, the biggest moan in the bar of the George Hotel is: 'The BBC have had my script for months and I haven't heard a sausage.' Some exaggeration, surely? Not according to Jimmy McGovern, writer of the much-praised Cracker. 'Put it this way, I've just sent an anniversary card to my last script.'

STILL with Cracker, the programme's star, Robbie Coltrane, fended off one session chairwoman's suggestions that detective series were a 'bloated genre'. However, he did add that he would be only doing one more series (the third), a film in the new year and perhaps the odd special. 'You can see it now - Christmas Cracker.'