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Britain?s Got Talent - 19th - 20th January 2009

The conference provided a very useful networking opportunity - key people were all there from BBC, Channel 4, Ofcom, and was also a useful place to exchange view with other out of London producers.

The conference highlight was an announcement from Channel 4's Kevin Lygo in a keynote address that the Channel is to place a commissioning editor in the Glasgow office, and is to ring fence for the nation?s singles within all the Channel's strands, e.g. Dispatches, Cutting Edge, and religion strands.

The other keynote address, from Philip Graf, the deputy Chief Exec of Ofcom, was marred by timing - Ofcom's report is published on the 21st, and all he could say was 'I can't tell you'.

There was much tedious talk about sub regional local programming, and far too much emphasis on News, especially in the Nations. ITV/STV have been pleading for support to continue their services. From the floor I suggested that News was not all it is cut out to be, and the much vaunted competition to get a scoop means chasing silly wee stories about firemen rescuing cats, while in Scotland the so called instruments of democratic accountability have completely missed Aberdeen City Council's sailing towards bankruptcy and above all, the two big banks in Scotland taking the whole nation towards bankruptcy. This provoked a discussion about non news programming, which included a challenge to Ofcom's analysis that news was preferred to non news - Tom Harvey from the floor challenged Ofcom's methodology, pointing out that if you asked the Ofcom question, do you like non news programming, people said little, but if you named programmes they immediately responded positively. All this was heard by Linda Fabiani, who was there on the panel for the second morning session.

The hypothetical about growing indies was not great, nothing we learned there, but perhaps others did. Stuart Maconie presented a good session on how London patronises the rest of the UK, led by a very well made film showing some blatant examples, which was followed by a decent discussion about drama and entertainment.

David Strachan, Tern Television. January 2009

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