Leading article: That's entertainment

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The Independent Online

To rattle off the showbiz names associated with the long career of Sir Bill Cotton is to recite a short history of television entertainment. The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, Michael Parkinson, Bruce Forsyth: the television producer, who died this week, had a big hand in all of their careers.

But more significantly, he developed their careers at the nation's public service broadcaster, the BBC. Without Sir Bill's brilliance as an impresario of light entertainment in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, ITV might easily have developed a monopoly on this sort of programming.

But today's broadcasting environment is very different. Instead of just three channels, there are scores. Competition is intense. And many wonder whether a licence fee-funded broadcaster should be in light entertainment at all.

If the Corporation continues to produce quality programming in the tradition of Sir Bill, its future looks bright. But here lies the challenge. Spotting and nurturing talent is not easy. All those well-disposed to public service broadcasting must hope Sir Bill's successors are up to the job.