TV is too important to be left to the market, says Dyke

LONDON – The BBC director-general Greg Dyke has launched a broadside against 'Americanisation' of British television, telling a US audience that TV it is too important to be left to the market alone.

Dyke made a case for a strong publicly-funded broadcaster at the heart of the British TV industry in a speech in New York. The director general argued that television was not "just another commodity" like Starbucks or Coca Cola and said a strong public broadcaster had a positive influence on the wider culture.

He said that what was at stake was the kind of television people have a right to expect in their society – TV which reflects their culture and their values.

"Television is only different from coffee or Coke if we recognise that fact. If we treat TV like these things, it will become like them. We end up with nothing more than a briefly enjoyable experience devoid of any lasting value," he said.

He said it was wrong to see the BBC as a separate entity, divorced from the rest of the UK broadcasting market.

"A strong, publicly-funded broadcaster at the heart of our the British TV industry has a positive influence far beyond the confines of our own channels and services."

He added that, despite the arguments put forward by some commercial broadcasters, the BBC was vital as a catalyst for competition, quality and creativity.

He warned that, along with the rest of the UK TV industry, the BBC faced the threat posed by globalisation and 'Americanisation' in particular.

He said that the size of the US market coupled with the Communications Act, which made it possible for US companies to buy any of the UK's commercial broadcasters, threatened a television landscape that reflected national culture and values.

"Programming would evolve into a commodity rather that something of intrinsic value and unbiased and challenging news and current affairs would be the first to suffer."

Dyke added that, with the continuing take-up of subscription television and the advent of discussions on the BBC's Charter Review, the role of all broadcasters was more vital than ever.

The BBC director-general was in New York to pick up an International Emmy Directorate award for outstanding services to broadcasting.

Dyke told the audience of US broadcasters that broadcasting was special and that it plays a crucial role in people's lives.

"It tells us what's happening in the world, helps us form opinions and informs national debates. It connects people through shared experience and reflects our personal interests," he said.

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