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Our BBC, Our Channel 4: A Future For Public Service Television?

As the BBC Charter Renewal moves into its final stages, with a White Paper due in the early summer and the possible privatisation of Channel 4 currently on the government’s agenda, the future of these public institutions is in doubt. Lord Puttnam, the inquiry chair, called for ITV to strengthen its public service remit, in order to “recapture the scale and ambition of the best of ITV’s historic reputation for flagship current affairs programming.” The event was chaired by the Guardian Media Editor,“recapture the scale and ambition of the best of ITV’s historic reputation for flagship current affairs programming”.The event was chaired by the Guardian’s media editor Jane Martinson and speakers included Ralph Lee, Head of Factual and Deputy Chief Creative Officer, Channel 4, Hugh Harris, Director of Media, International, Gambling & Creative Economy, and Patrick Holland, Head of Documentary, BBC.

News coverage of the event:  

‘Lord Puttnam Calls for ITV to boost current affairs’, by Jake Kanter, Broadcast, 14 June 2016

‘ITV should make more current affairs content, says Puttnam inquiry’ by Jasper Jackson, the Guardian, 14 June 2016


Does Television Represent Us?

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Film producer and Labour Peer David Puttnam brought his Inquiry into the Future of Television to Liverpool on 4th May. 

Ken Loach, Phil Redmond CBERuth Fox (Chair, Hansard Society) and Cat Lewis (Nine Lives Media and Nations & Regions rep for indie producers’ association Pact) discussed whether TV reflects the lifestyles and opinions of people across the UK or whether it is more of a mouthpiece for the ‘London bubble’. To what extent does TV offer a space to talk politics and how much does it feature a range of voices, perspectives and backgrounds? Come and contribute to the debate and the Inquiry and listen to leading creative voices who want to make TV relevant to people where they live. 

The event was hosted by Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall festival and also featured data from a new study into how TV has contributed to political debate in Liverpool, carried out by researchers at the Hansard Society, the Inquiry’s partners.

Event Transcript 

Liverpool, 4 May 2016

Interview with Ken Loach

A Future for Public Service Television – Inquiry Event for Scotland

In partnership with the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Stirling.

Speakers included:

Angela Haggerty, Editor, Common Space

Iseabail Mactaggart, Director of Development & Partnership, MG Alba

Stuart Cosgrove, journalist, broadcaster and former Head of Programmes (Nations and Regions), Channel 4

Professor Neil Blain, Professor Emeritus of Communications at the University of Stirling

John McCormick FRSE, Chair of the Scottish Screen Leadership Group, and former Controller of BBC Scotland

Chaired by Lord Puttnam

Inquiry Event for Scotland 1

Event transcript:

Inquiry Event for Scotland

Press coverage:

‘Debate of future of public broadcasting finally engages with Scotland’

The Herald, Sunday 21 February 2016


A Future for Public Service Television – Inquiry Event for Wales/Dyfodol Gwasanaeth Teledu Cyhoeddus – Digwyddiad yr Ymchwiliad yng Nghymru

Speakers included:

Angharad Mair (BAFTA Wales and Tinopolis)

Huw Jones (Chair, S4C)

Ian MacKenzie (Head of Nations and Regions, Channel 4)

Angela Graham (Institute of Welsh Affairs)

Rhys Evans (Head of Strategy and Digital at BBC Wales)

Chaired by Sian Powell (Cardiff University)

This event was hosted and supported by the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. 


Siaradwyr yn cynnwys:‬

Angharad Mair (BAFTA Cymru a Tinopolis)‬

Huw Jones (Cadeirydd, S4C)‬

Ian MacKenzie (Pennaeth Cenhedloedd a Rhanbarthau, Channel 4)‬

Angela Graham (Sefydliad Materion Cymreig)‬

Rhys Evans (Pennaeth Strategaeth a Digidol BBC Cymru)

Cadeirir gan Sian Powell (Prifysgol Caerdydd)‬

Ymchwiliad Dyfodol Gwasanaeth Teledu Cyhoeddus‬

Trefnydd Dyfodol Gwasanaeth Teledu Cyhoeddus – Digwyddiad yr Ymchwiliad yng Nghymru‬

A Conversation with Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC

This was a unique opportunity to hear the Director General’s views about the BBC’s role in the broadcast landscape and to put questions to him about how the BBC can meet the challenges it is faced with. The film producer and Labour peer, David Puttnam, will be talking to the Director General Tony Hall on his vision for, and his time so far at, the BBC as well as inviting his thoughts about wider issues facing public service television in the UK.

News coverage of the event:

‘BBC is Alive and Kicking, Says Director General Lord Hall’, Daily Mail, 5th April 2016

‘Judge us by our quality, says the BBC’s Tony Hall‘, NUJ, 6th April 2016

‘The Archers abuse storyline has year to run, BBC’s Tony Hall reveals‘, by Jane Martinson, the Guardian, 5th April 2016

Tony Hall urged to ‘ditch the deal’, BECTU, 5th April 2016



A Future for Public Service Television – Inquiry Event for Northern Ireland

Speakers included:

Michael Wilson (UTV)

Margo Harkin (Besom Productions)

Ian Kennedy (ex BBC and Creative Skillset)

Pat Loughrey (Goldsmiths, University of London and former Head of Nations & Regions, BBC)

Colm Murphy (Ulster University)

Chaired by Maire Messenger-Davies (Ulster University)

Event transcript:

Transcript_Northern Ireland_4 April 2016

Press/news coverage:

Des Freedman, the Inquiry Project Lead, talks to Frank Mitchell about the remit of the Inquiry, on Monday 4th April 2016. Listen again here.

UTV’s local shows ‘will not be lost under new owners’ by Margaret Canning, Belfast Telegraph, 1st April 2016.

Your chance to shape future of public service television in Northern Ireland‘ by Lord Puttnam, Belfast Telegraph, 31st March 2016.

Lord Puttnam, the Inquiry chair, interviewed on BBC Radio Ulster. Listen to the interview here.

Are You Being Heard? Representing Britain on TV

From left to right:

Sir Lenny Henry (Actor, Writer and TV Presenter)

Dawn Foster (Writer on politics, social affairs and economics for The Guardian, London Review of Books, Independent and Times Literary Supplement)

Pat Younge, Chair (MD of Sugar Films; former BBC Chief Creative Officer)

Bev Skeggs (Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London)

Event Transcript:

Are You Being Heard? Transcript, 22 March 2016

Press coverage:

Lenny Henry renews call for BBC to ringfence funds to boost diversity, Dawn Foster, 23rd March 2016.

Sir Lenny Henry: Write diversity into the charter, Broadcast, 23rd March 2016.

Photos from the event:



From left to right: Sir Lenny Henry, Dawn Foster ,Pat Younge, and Bev Skeggs


Sir Lenny, Dawn and Pat


Sir Lenny

What is the Future for Channel 4 in the UK Media Ecology?


David Abraham (Chief Executive Channel 4)

Lord Inglewood (Former Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications 2011-2014)

Laura Mansfield (Outline Productions and Chair of PACT)

Guy Bisson (Research Director, Ampere Analysis)

chaired by Lord Puttnam 

This panel discussion, chaired by Lord Puttnam, focused on the challenges facing Channel 4 in particular, and public service television more generally, at a time of great uncertainty. Channel 4 plays a central role in delivering public service broadcasting but its future is under scrutiny given ongoing discussions about a possible change of ownership. This event offered a unique opportunity to hear from key participants in these debates including Channel 4’s Chief Executive, David Abraham, Chair of PACT Laura Mansfield, as well as Lord Inglewood, former Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, and the Research Director of media analysis Ampere Analysis, Guy Bisson.

Event transcript:

Transcript Channel 4 event 14 March 2016

Press coverage:

‘Abraham Hits Back at Whittingdale’s Privatisation Plans’ in Broadcast, 15th March 2016

‘For-profit Channel 4 would never have aired Paralympics or Gogglebox’ in the Guardian, 15th March 2016

Channel 4 submission:

‘Policymakers should be careful not to undermine or damage a delicate ecosystem of PSB’

Rethinking the Principles of Public Service Media

The aim of the seminar was to present and discuss future normative principles to guide public service media in the context of the digital ecology, as well as to reflect on ideas for the institutional and regulatory design needed to deliver these principles. Watch here the interview with one of the speakers, Stuart Murphy (Formerly Director, Entertainment Channels, Sky). Other speakers include:

Baroness Helena Kennedy (Barrister, broadcaster, and Labour member of the House of Lords)

Jon Thoday (Co-Founder and Managing Director of Avalon Entertainment) 

Andrew Chitty (Member of Ofcom Content Board and Founder of Digital Life Sciences)

Georgina Born: Chair (Oxford University)

Des Freedman (Goldsmiths, University of London)

What would TV look like without the BBC? Funding the future of public service television

Chaired by Lord (David) Puttnam, former Deputy Chairman of Channel 4 (2006-12)

On 31 December 2016 the BBC’s Royal Charter expires. What should the future for the BBC as a public service broadcaster look like in a fast-changing digital landscape? How should it be financially supported, and by whom? Should it continue to hold its place as the nation’s leading public service broadcaster, and benefit from a universal licence fee?

Greg Dyke, former Director-General of the BBC (2000-4)
Brian Eno, musician and producer; delivered the BBC Music John Peel Lecture 2015
Mariana Mazzucato, RM Phillips Professorship in the Economics of Innovation, University of Sussex
Toby Syfret, Head of TV, Enders Analysis

External links

The British Academy, What Would TV Look Without BBC Funding

Press coverage:

‘Former BBC Chief Greg Dyke says the corporation ‘is envy of the world’, 15th December, 2015

Reported in the Daily Mail; The Oxford Times, Herald Scotland

Do we still need public service television?

The launch of our inquiry took place on Wednesday 25th November. The Guardian’s head of media Jane Martinson chaired a lively debate on whether we still need a public service TV system in the multichannel abundance, with speakers including the Inquiry chair Lord Puttnam, broadcaster and author Melvyn Bragg, Channel 4’s Jay Hunt and Maker Studio’s Luke Hyams.

Press coverage:

BBC Cannot Thrive if Constantly Threatened, Mediatel Newsline, 26th November 2015

Melvyn Bragg accuses BBC Trust chair of ‘cosying up’ on new financial deal, The Guardian, 26th November 2015

Do Young People Care About Public Service Broadcasting?, Luke Hyams, Huffington Post, 4th December 2015

Richard Hoggart shows us to improve TV’s future we must look to the past