CAMPAIGN MEDIA AWARDS 2001: Campaign Gold Award - Media Achiever of the Year - Michael Jackson

Which of us, hand on heart, can really claim to remember what it

was like to watch Channel 4 back in July 1997, the month and the year in

which Michael Jackson arrived to take up the reins as chief

executive?



After all, the media industry is notorious for its short attention

span.



But one thing's for sure - if we'd been told back then that, within a

few short years, Channel 4 would be home to both Test cricket and

Richard and Judy, we would, to use a very un-Channel 4 phrase, have been

utterly gobsmacked.



The truth is that Jackson managed to reinvent British broadcasting's

most distinctive proposition almost without us noticing, widening the

channel's horizons while not losing sight of its core commitment to

innovation.



Jackson was a success story before he arrived at Channel 4, obviously,

first as an independent producer and then as that most exotic of

broadcasting creatures, an achiever nourished by the intellectual wing

of the BBC.



But this year's Campaign Media Achiever of the Year Award is primarily

in recognition of Jackson's monumental achievements at Channel 4 as he

begins yet another new challenge in the States.



The success or failure of a creative regime is usually measured by the

quality of its output. So if you want to feel the width as well as the

quality of output during Jackson's reign, here's a sample list: Ali G,

Graham Norton, Trigger Happy TV, Queer as Folk, Big Brother, This Is

Modern Art, Longitude, Black Books, The 1940s House, The Mark Thomas

Product, Tina Goes Shopping, Shooters.



Back in May, Channel 4 won 11 Bafta awards, more than the BBC and ITV

combined. And that's just the homegrown material. He also made it

possible for Channel 4 to help fund films like East is East and

Trainspotting.



And while the British stuff was winning awards, he made sure the ratings

were buoyed up with astutely purchased US imports, like West Wing, ER,

South Park and Friends.



In the multichannel age, it no longer feels a duty to scandalise. Not

always at any rate. Some radical critics sneered at Jackson when, in a

rare lapse, The Daily Mail earlier this year announced that it now loved

Channel 4. But the affair, unhappily, didn't last and within weeks The

Mail was once more in need of smelling salts following the broadcast of

a Brass Eye spoof documentary about paedophilia. Which was naturally

tagged "The Sickest TV Show Ever".



Channel 4 is now comfortable in its new role as a "challenger brand" - a

provocative part of mainstream rather than beyond the pale. It's a

strategy that's good for ratings and, consequently, the revenue has

followed.



And it now keeps all of that cash following Jackson's successful

campaign to sever all ties with ITV, which previously laid claim to a

share of profits.



That isn't the only structural innovation under Jackson.



He launched both FilmFour and E4 and has encouraged the development of a

multi-platform family of media brands appropriate to the digital

age.



He clearly has the gift, once liberally ascribed to such as Rupert

Murdoch, of "seeing round corners".



It's a talent that will stand him in good stead as he faces new

challenges on the other side of the Atlantic. Jackson is a worthy winner

of Campaign's fourth Media Achiever of the Year Award.



Finally, this year's media achiever of the year award can't pass without

marking a new departure in the career of Chris Ingram, whose Tempus

group was acquired earlier this month by WPP. Through the companies he

founded, most notably CIA, Ingram was instrumental in establishing the

concept of the media independent, not just in the UK but in the rest of

the world.



The advertising world would be a very different place without his

vision.



Campaign wishes him well in any future projects.



Previous winners: 2000 Caroline Marland; 1999 Marjorie Scardino; 1998

David Elstein



THE JACKSON FILE

2001: President and chief executive, USA Entertainment Networks

1997-2001: Chief executive, Channel 4

1996: Controller, BBC1

1993: Controller, BBC2

1991: Head of music and arts, BBC Television

1989: Founding editor, The Late Show

1980-89: Active in the independent production sector. Instrumental in

the foundation of the Independent Programme Producers Association and

the Channel 4 Group, which lobbied for independent access to the new

channel

1979: Graduated from Polytechnic of Central London



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