Skip to content

Tele-wars: the next chapter

Updated Tuesday 17th February 2009

Andrew Lindridge considers whether high production values will win in the battle of the television channels

January 20th 2009 was a momentous day with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the United States of America. Around the world millions of people watched this historic moment, sadly my home was not one of them.

Don't get me wrong, I had finished my work early, switched off the computer and dashed back home for the historical moment. With my cup of tea I entered our front room only to be confronted by every parent’s nightmare, my son was demanding to watch his favourite children’s television programme ‘Big cook, little cook’, whilst my daughter was demanding that she should be allowed to watch for the umpteenth time ‘High School Musical’ on DVD. In the middle of all of this was my mother-in-law, trying to convince everyone that she should watch her daily drama on Zee TV (an Indian language television channel). Faced with a barrage of ‘I never get to see what I want’ from three people, I made a swift exit to the kitchen to console myself with a packet of biscuits. TV screens in a studio gallery Creative commons image Icon ti.mo under CC-BY-NC-SA licence under Creative-Commons license Nothing on? Screens on a production gallery

If I had been able to see Barack Obama’s inauguration I would have been spoilt for choice on what television channel to watch. Thanks to the magic of cable TV I could have watched it on BBC 1 as well as the BBC news channel, along with many different news and language channels. That’s the joy of cable television; there are channels dedicated to history, drama, cooking, news, music, ethnic minorities, sports, films and so on. Central to this barrage of choice is Rupert Murdoch and News International Corporation, which through Sky television, led the beginning of Britain’s television revolution.

Rupert Murdoch, however, does not believe the revolution in British television is over. A regular critic of the BBC, which he argues is a subsidised, state funded monolith, he calls for the BBC to be forced to compete as a commercial organisation.

This would mean an end to state funding and potentially the inclusion of advertisements on BBC television channels. Compounding the BBC’s problems has been the growth of differing television channels and the continued growth of DVD sales (High School Music included). What then is the future for British television?

Those fearing an invasion of American television programmes and the demise of home grown television shows need not panic. After a decade or so of questionable television programmes, the future of British television can be encapsulated in one show: Dr Who. When it was launched five years ago it was BBC Wales, a regional outpost of the BBC, which undertook what it described as the biggest gamble in its history.

Derided in the 1980s as old fashioned, Dr Who had been off British televisions for nearly twenty years. The result? Four series later, Dr Who regularly pulls in audiences of 10 million viewers and often accounts for over 70% of British television viewers when aired. The moral of this story? People will continue to watch and want high quality television that offers family appeal. To parody Barack Obama (who parodied Bob the Builder) can quality British television survive? Yes it can!

Courses

Take it further

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

OU on the BBC this week 13-11-10 to 19-11-10 Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC this week 13-11-10 to 19-11-10

 Mark Horton peeps over a wall into the life of a celebrated author, and how can we beat the invaders? It's all in Open University programmes on the BBC this week.

Article
OU on the BBC this week 06-11-10 to 12-11-10 Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Thinkstock article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC this week 06-11-10 to 12-11-10

Radar, koalas, rebranding and the end of the Great War - just a few of the subjects covered by Open University programmes on BBC TV and Radio this week.

Article
OU on the BBC this week 30-10-10 to 05-11-10 Creative commons image Icon Ashley Pollack under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC this week 30-10-10 to 05-11-10

 Open University programmes on the BBC, October 30th - November 5th, 2010

Article
Never mind the quality: Transcript Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Never mind the quality: Transcript

Where does the future of television look like heading? This full transcript of Digital Planet makes some predictions.

Article
OU on the BBC: Digital Planet: Learning Zone - Never Mind the Quality Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Digital Planet: Learning Zone - Never Mind the Quality

Do more channels mean more choice and better television? Perhaps not...

Article
Meet Anna Ford Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Meet Anna Ford

Meet Anna Ford, our guide through The Other Medicine.

Article
Baker Street half-baked: Is Sherlock part of a new anti-intellectualism? Creative commons image Icon Saschaporsche under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license article icon

History & The Arts 

Baker Street half-baked: Is Sherlock part of a new anti-intellectualism?

Is the 21st Century version of the great detective designed to make thinking less threatening? Christopher Pittard thinks so.

Article
B92 Serbia FM Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

History & The Arts 

B92 Serbia FM

A look at how one of Serbia's radio stations survived by using the Internet

Article
Why Cilla Black was more than just a light entertainment star Creative commons image Icon Netherlands National Archive under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

Why Cilla Black was more than just a light entertainment star

Cilla Black's hosting of Surprise Surprise and Blind Date shouldn't obscure what a significant figure in the cultural history of the 20th century she was, says Andy Medhurst

Article