Our Friend in the West: Mike Gunton

15 May 2015
Our Friend in the West: Mike Gunton discovers that even in America’s Midwest the Bristol-based NHU is part of the culture

Mike Gunton
Mike Gunton (Credit: BBC)
Last week, I was standing in a fly-fishing shop in a small town in Montana telling the owner I worked for the BBC Natural History Unit. "Oh, so you're from Bristol," was his reply.

OK, he was a wildlife fan and did then ask if David Attenborough was my neighbour, but it does illustrate that Bristol and the NHU's reputation go far and wide.

Michael Jackson: From Macclesfield to Manhattan

15 May 2015
Michael Jackson has been an innovative indie and CEO of Channel 4. He also ran channels at the BBC and Universal. He still fervently supports committed programme-makers, hears Steve Clarke

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson (Credit: Nutopia)
Michael Jackson's stellar career encapsulates much of the creative history of TV during the past 30 years. He was an innovative independent producer back in the 1980s, reinvented BBC Two in the 1990s, and went on to run Channel 4. There, he launched Queer as Folk, Ali G and Big Brother, before crossing the Atlantic to work for the legendary mogul Barry Diller.

Why film is a good fit for the BBC

15 May 2015
As her unit marks its 25th anniversary, Head of BBC Films Christine Langan tells Steve Clarke that the corporation is more serious than ever about backing British movies

Christine Langan
Christine Langan (Credit: BBC)
Everyone knows that BBC drama is either near or at the top of its game. But what of BBC Films, the broadcaster's infinitely poorer and sometimes neglected cousin?

For the past six years, BBC Films has been led by Christine Langan, a one-time Granada script editor who went on to win acclaim within ITV and beyond.

A future for a Digital Single Market?

15 May 2015
Content owners are sceptical about the EU’s plans for a Digital Single Market. They want to protect the status quo on selling rights. Raymond Snoddy reports

Ross Biggam, Director General of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT), believes you need a degree in Kremlinology to work out exactly what the European Commission is trying to do with its plans for a Digital Single Market (DSM).

The Commission has faced concerted opposition from the film and television industries – not least the ACT, which represents the interests of commercial broadcasters in 37 countries – over what are seen as attempts to end, or erode, geo-blocking of content across the EU.

Profile: Ken MacQuarrie

15 May 2015
Maggie Brown profiles Ken MacQuarrie, the tactful Director of BBC Scotland who needs to keep the peace as the SNP surges

Ken MacQuarrie
(Credit: BBC)
When Tony Hall needed someone to investigate Jeremy Clarkson's attack on his producer, he looked north and summoned Ken MacQuarrie, the calm and reserved Director of BBC Scotland.

As an experienced member of the Editorial Standards Committee, MacQuarrie was an obvious choice. His terse report sealed Clarkson's exit. What the Top Gear presenter made of the enigmatic Scot, his polar opposite, remains the stuff of speculation.

Ben Frow: The passionate TV exec

14 May 2015
Ben Frow is bringing real passion to Channel 5. Andrew Billen discovers a TV executive like no other

Ben Frow
(Credit: Channel 5)
Ben Frow is not as other directors of programmes. They tend to be sober, jargon-ridden and cautious – at least when speaking to me. They talk of "passion" but rarely show it: steady as the ratings sink or, occasionally, rise. Frow is funny, camp and outspoken, easily bruised and easily enthused.

Is television eating itself?

14 May 2015
From W1A to Gogglebox, TV shows about telly are everywhere. Stefan Stern provides a guide to some of the best and asks what they tell us about television’s view of itself

W1A
W1A (Credit: BBC)
Will television eat itself? A flat screen might be easier to get down than a cathode-ray tube, and cause less indigestion – but, still, it doesn't really sound like a sensible diet.

All trades and professions are fascinated with themselves and like nothing more than talking endlessly about their own work. The TV industry is no different. In it's case, making telly about telly is proving increasingly irresistible.

Richard Sambrook’s TV diary

14 May 2015
Richard Sambrook reflects on an election campaign like no other – and hails a new approach to political interviewing pioneered by Evan Davis

Watching an election campaign from an academic perch is very different to organising coverage in the newsroom. My university colleagues are no less engaged, but they stand outside the media-political bubble and are usually better informed.

This can make some of their questions more challenging than those of presenters, correspondents or politicians. They seem to think opinion should be based on rigorous research and evidence. Quaint notion.

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May 2015

NAB 2015: To the Internet and Beyond

14 Apr 2015
Exploring four trends that could transform TV as broadcasters meet at NAB 2015

1. Why your TV should talk to your toaster: connected-TV and the 'internet of things'

One of the big draws at television technology shows such as NAB in Las Vegas is the "living room of the future", with its wall-filling, multi-image, interactive TV screen. Such "wallpaper displays" are still, largely, mock-ups, not demonstrations of real services.

But the "internet of things" (IoT) – the multiplication of connected devices, body-worn sensors and Cloud data services – could soon make such TVs a reality.

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