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Television Policy

The MacTaggart Lectures

Edited by Bob Franklin

Hardback i (Printed to Order)

Television Policy offers a unique and authoritative account of the major developments in television programming and policy since 1976 by collecting in a single volume the MacTaggart lectures delivered at the Edinburgh International Television Festival across the last quarter of a century. The MacTaggart lecturers include the most celebrated and distinguished programme makers, producers, performers, playwrights, policymakers and senior media executives across all sectors of broadcasting. They include Greg Dyke, John Humphrys, John McGrath, Marcel Orphuls, Norman Lear, Jeremy Isaacs, John Mortimer, Peter Jay, Ted Turner, Jonathan Miller, Denis Foreman, John Schlesinger, Troy Kennedy-Martin, Philip Whitehead, Christine Ockrent, Rupert Murdoch, Verity Lambert, David Elstein, Michael Grade, Dennis Potter, Janet Street Porter, John Birt, Laurence Marks, Maurice Gran, Peter Bazalgette, Richard Eyre, David Liddiment and Mark Thompson.

With a Foreword by John Willis and an introductory essay exploring the history of the MacTaggart lectures and a review of the shifting themes and concerns of the lectures, the book provides a forum for the significant debates which have helped to shape both television content and policy across twenty five years of considerable and unprecedented change in broadcasting. Topics covered include the future of public service programming; the relationship of government to broadcasters; the impact of ownership on the freedom of broadcasters; and debates about whether and how television should be regulated.

Television Policy is essential reading for all students of media and communication studies as well as those interested in reading accounts of television programming and policy written by some of the most eloquent, eminent but contentious figures in television broadcasting.

Key Features

  • The first collection of the prestigious MacTaggart Lectures
  • A unique insight into the development of television programming across 25 years
  • Authoritative and eloquent analyses of television policy
  • Critical assessment of the contribution of the MacTaggart Lectures to current policy debates
  • Insider accounts of the development and future of Public Service Broadcasting.


Foreword (John Willis)
John McGrath - TV Drama: The Case against Naturalism
Marcel Ophuls - Naturalism in Television
Norman Lear - Taboos in Television
Jeremy Isaacs - Signposting Television in the 1980s: The Fourth Television Channel
John Mortimer - Television Drama, Censorship and Truth
Peter Jay - The Future of 'Electronic Publishing'
Denis Foreman - The Primacy of Programmes in the Future of Broadcasting
John Schlesinger - Reflections on Working in Film and Television
Troy Kennedy Martin - 'Opening Up the Fourth Front': Micro Drama and the Rejection of Naturalism
Philip Whitehead - Power and Pluralism in Broadcasting
Christine Ockrent - Ethics, Broadcasting and Change: The French
Rupert Murdoch - Freedom in Broadcasting
Verity Lambert - De-regulation and Quality Television
David Elstein - The Future of Television: Market Forces and Social Values
Michael Grade - The Future of the BBC
Dennis Potter - Occupying Powers
Greg Dyke - A Culture of Dependency: Power, Politics and Broadcasters
Janet Street Porter - Talent versus Television
John Birt - A Glorious Future: Quality Broadcasting in the Digital Age
Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran - Rewarding Creative Talent: The Struggle of the Independents
Peter Bazalgette - Television versus the People
Richard Eyre - Public Interest Broadcasting: A New Approach
Greg Dyke - A Time for Change
David Liddiment - The Soul of British Television
Mark Thompson - The Creative Deficit in British Television
Tony Ball - Freedom of Choice, Public Service Broadcasting and the BBC
John Humphrys - First Do No Harm.

About the Author

Bob Franklin is Professor of Media Communications, Department of Journalism Studies, University of Sheffield


All the MacTaggart lectures are eloquent, individualistic and heartfelt. In addressing the difficult task of editing each text and reducing it to a quarter of its original length, Franklin has succeeded in retaining the strength of the speaker’s voice and the ambience of the moment. The result is an eminently readable, thought-provoking collection of arguments by some of the most prominent figures in broadcasting. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of television. In fact, it seems surprising that we have managed without it until now.
- Christine Fanthome, Journal of British Cinema and Television
This is an excellent collection for anyone interested in the history of British broadcasting and in retracing the development of television as a cultural form.
- Media International Australia
This book will produce as many boos as hurrahs, according to the views and values of individual readers - Murdoch's lecture of 1989 in particular, will either raise hats or hackles - but the worth of the book is enhanced by Franklin's even-handed prefaces to each lecture. The collection of this material between two covers is very welcome.
- European Journal of Communication