Is David Elstein joining David Brook and Nick Milligan to form a behind
the-camera dream team at Channel 5? His arrival certainly gives the
station a pre-launch credibility that must help it enormously through
its teething troubles. They shouldn’t get too carried away, though:
remember the famous-five dream team - Anna Ford, Angela Rippon, David
Frost, Michael Parkinson and Peter Jay - that launched TV-am?
I just wish I could be more convinced by the ‘give me five’ campaign.
Many non-industry people haven’t a clue what it’s about, and - what’s
worse - are given no reason to find out more. A phone number isn’t a
The TV world is rock and roll at the moment. Channel 5 will make its
debut at a time when there has never been more controversy about the
BBC’s remit and funding, and Michael Grade finds himself in a debate he
helped stir about the privatisation of Channel 4 which reeks of behind-
the-scenes political machinations. Channel 4 opened itself up to
privatisation when it abandoned the funding formula, but neither viewers
nor advertisers would benefit from it taking place. We all know which
programmes would be the first to go (it wouldn’t be Cosby re-runs), and
the station would immediately fall prey to any marauding multi-
millionaire with designs on media moguldom.
Meanwhile, ITV is at last trying to establish itself as a brand. It
would help its image among the advertising community if we didn’t have
to go through the annual battles with media buyers over who owes what to
whom. This year CIA, last year the Media Centre, before that Carat.
Trying to unravel the issue is like trying to understand Des Barnes’ sex
life in Coronation Street. With the Independent Television Commission
disputing ITV companies’ revenue figures, greater transparency is
Buoyed by the phenomenal success of its football coverage, BSkyB is
powering ahead - Elstein aside, and despite cable and satellite still
being in only 25 per cent of homes. Meanwhile, the cable community’s
campaign turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, failing to provide a
real reason to tune in. Cable must surely sort out its programming
before spending millions on advertising again. A fibre-optic cable isn’t
However, within individual companies such as Flextech there is an
enormous buzz about the future. Look at it now entering into
negotiations with the BBC about being its digital TV partner. BSkyB is
its rival and the outcome will be fascinating. It could give the BBC its
first real foothold in the US through Flextech’s effective owner, the
US’s largest cable operator, TCI.
It all adds up to a dynamic industry which the advertising world must
run to catch up with or be left behind. We’ve all been warned.