Wednesday, November 11, 2009

'Why Britain can't do The Wire'

In Prospect, Peter Jukes looks at why, in his opinion, British TV drama is lagging behind that from the USA.
In 1994, I worried about the cultural power of four network controllers. Now you can forget Channel 4 and BBC2: they can make decent one-offs, such as Red Riding and Freefall this year, but both have basically dropped out of adult dramas. ITV has fared no better. In the 1990s the powerful baronies of Granada, Yorkshire TV, LWT and Thames had some autonomy. But their amalgamation into one corporation, followed by a catastrophic fall in advertising revenue, has turned ITV drama into a shadow of its former self. Whatever your view of public service broadcasting (and I support it) the near-monopoly of the BBC in drama commissioning is disastrous.


  1. The BBC is going to have to learn to live without the licence fee eventually. One model would be to split out separate channels that would specialize in Natural History, Costume Drama, Modern Drama, etc. Those would be able to hold their own as subscription channels and enjoy an international reputation and a long-tail suitability that would allow them to sell their content on, make money on the DVDs, etc.

    The remainder would continue to focus on domestic TV and would compete commercially with ITV. And why not? EastEnders is no better or worse than Coronation Street as it is.

  2. Anonymous12:16 pm

    Is it me or does near state run BBC smack of authoritarianism and monopoly and not of a free market in broadcasting? When Odeon bought UCI cinema chain it had to sell off a number of its sites in favour of fair competition, but in broadcasting there appears no such level playing field. ITV are suffering and BBC are being artificially held up by a licence fee that ranks well with communism rather than capitalism. I still cannot work out the dichotomy of BBC being state financed with their commercial arms (DVD sales etc). I long for the time when the licence fee is either cancelled altogether or distributed throughout the all British broadcasters.


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