Speed date the entertainment gurus

16 Jun 2014
Futures members probed and pitched at some of the biggest names in Entertainment television, writes Matthew Bell

The top primetime ­entertainment shows ­– Strictly Come Dancing, The Voice UK, Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor – all occupy a unique place in the ecology of British TV.

They offer viewers glitz, gossip and star power – and deliver huge audiences. And if an entertainment format can be sold overseas, rights holders can cash in worldwide.

There’s plenty of entertainment programming further down the television food chain, too, in the form of game shows, quizzes, comedy panel series, celebrity specials and dating shows.

High stakes for the BBC

11 Jul 2014
A key issue in the Scottish independence debate is the fate of the BBC if Scotland votes yes, reports Maggie Brown

In June former Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally ignited the debate about the BBC and Scottish independence by raising the “EastEnders” question. The key issue is whether the country’s 5.2 million citizens would have uninterrupted access to all current BBC services, if the referendum vote is for separation, and Scots’ licence fees are then diverted to a new national broadcaster.

TV design: apply within

16 Jun 2014
Matthew Bell learns what it takes to fill the vacancies in TV's design disciplines

The UK’s reputation in the traditional TV and film crafts of make-up, costume and production design is unrivalled – and the good news is that there is no shortage of work in these areas.

That was the overwhelming conclusion of the recent RTS Futures event, “Making it in TV design”, where aspirant make-up artists and designers were given advice from a panel of industry practitioners.

Why we need to embrace uncertainty

11 Jun 2014
Michael Lynch says machine intelligence will reinvent TV - assuming we survive the blistering speed that technology is advancing, learns Steve Clarke

Prediction may be very difficult, particularly about the future – but put technology entrepreneur Dr Mike Lynch on stage at the Royal Society and you are guaranteed a mind-stretching performance. 

The Cambridge-educated scientist, described as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates (Lynch’s wealth is estimated to be in the order of £500m) provided a typically stimulating address.

30 days in the life of a new channel

16 Jun 2014
London Live, the new multi-platform broadcasting operation serving the capital, has ignored much of TV’s established playbook, reports Steve Clarke

From BBC Two to TV-am, getting a new television station on air and establishing it has never been easy. But on 31 March London Live, the biggest channel in former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s new wave of local-TV services, arrived in one piece.

And so was born the capital’s first bespoke, multi-platform network channel aimed at the under-35s. 

Convergence in a box

16 Jun 2014
Richard Halton tells Torin Douglas why YouView is an essential part of British TV's future

It’s little wonder that YouView’s CEO, Richard Halton, is smiling. After years of delayed launches, regulatory rows, changes of chairmen and negative headlines (such as “Alan Sugar should kill the YouView brand”), the venture that Halton has nurtured from its earliest days as “Project Canvas” can look ahead with confidence.

Archives set free of the past

16 Jun 2014
RTS/Focal Jane Mercer Memorial Lecture by Anthony Wall. Report by Matthew Bell

A packed audience for this year’s RTS/Focal Jane Mercer Memorial Lecture was treated to Arena Series Editor Anthony Wall’s experiments with archive footage on the BBC’s idiosyncratic arts strand. Within Wall’s output, Christopher Columbus, Johnny Rotten, Shirley Bassey and Kendo Nagasaki happily share screen time.

The new retail revolution

16 Jun 2014
Will the internet empty out the UK’s crowded mall of TV shopping channels? asks Tara Conlan

Two events recently marked another chapter in the history of television shopping channels. The first was that Sit-up TV – which operated Bid TV and Price-drop TV and once used David Dickinson as the face of its brand – went into administration.

The second was that the wrecking balls moved in to demolish the old south-west London headquarters of QVC – an iconic, neo-classical building that once represented the dreams of the pioneers of home shopping.

The incidents tell stories about two different areas of the UK market, which is still big business.

Dragons, death and debauchery

16 Jun 2014
What makes Game of Thrones so compelling? Author Amanda Craig deconstructs the appeal of a groundbreaking drama series

What is the secret to the extraordinary appeal of Game of Thrones? Describing it as “Dynasty with dragons” does not get close to its fascination, even for people who normally dislike fantasy.

Its originality starts, as so often with HBO dramas, with the opening credit sequence. 

How will we pay for the BBC?

11 Jul 2014
BBC Charter renewal will center on funding. Steve Clarke hearst the opening shots of the campaign.

In the age of the iPlayer, paying for BBC services is arguably straightforward no longer. As a result, the key debate around renewal of the BBC’s Royal Charter in 2016 is expected to focus on the future of the licence fee and alternative means of paying for the corporation’s services.

Could the BBC’s traditional form of funding – already top-sliced to fund the World Service, local-TV and S4C, among other things – be replaced by subscription? Or perhaps a hybrid financing model might be preferable?

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