Grade attack on BBC wins praise

A SHARP attack on the BBC by Michael Grade, Channel 4's chief executive, was welcomed yesterday by much of the television industry, including some of the corporation's own employees.

Mr Grade accused the BBC of editorial dictatorship with more centralised control and said it was guilty of 'political appeasement . . . which can lead to terminal decline'.

BBC officials rushed to dismiss Mr Grade's passionate criticism of its policies, governors and senior managers, calling his speech a caricature. But the mood of his audience was quite different.

Television producers - many from the BBC - left the Kirk of St Cuthbert in Edinburgh, where the speech opened the International Television Festival, welcoming the criticism and the call for a public debate on the corporation's future.

Bill Cotton, managing director of Noel Gay Television and a former BBC managing director, said: 'It wasn't just Michael grabbing the headlines - he was sending out a clear message to the people who make the policy in the BBC. They should consider what he said very carefully.'

Marmaduke Hussey, chairman of the BBC Board of Governors, issued a low-key statement defending the corporation. He said that Mr Grade had failed to consider how broadcasting was going to change. 'Michael Grade charges that the BBC would pay any price to defend the licence fee. Not so. But as a publicly funded, public service broadcaster, the BBC must ensure that its programmes are original and distinctive, alert to what the public needs and wants. It must also ensure its programmes are efficiently made,' he said.

But Linda Agran, a drama producer whose successes include London's Burning and Minder, said Mr Grade was right. So did Paul Jackson, director of programmes for Carlton Communications, who produced programmes such as The Young Ones for the BBC.

Sir George Russell, chairman of the Independent Television Commission, who travelled to the festival simply to hear the speech, said it was the best Mr Grade would ever make. Peter Ibbotson, of Carlton Television, added: 'The speech was from the heart, and it struck a real chord with the audience.'

Sir George said he was particularly pleased that Mr Grade had proposed abolition of the system of governors and the creation of a single television commission to license all channels. This also won support from independent producers at the conference.

The aim is to separate powers so that the BBC is no longer dealing directly with the Government, making it less susceptible to bullying. Mr Grade also struck home with his denunciation of the BBC's apparent move from broadly based entertainment towards less popular programming.

He argued that popular soap operas such as Neighbours should be retained and the corporation should not be ashamed of entertaining programmes.

'It is the BBC that keeps us all honest,' he said, adding that if it no longer competed with ITV, standards might decline.

Mr Grade is the first person of any stature in the television industry to challenge Mr Hussey. There are indications that his speech will be the opening shot in a wider campaign against the BBC's proposed new structures.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness