Ofcom Chair Michael Grade Raises Concerns Over TV Exploitation

Ofcom Chair Michael Grade Raises Concerns Over TV Exploitation


Michael Grade, the esteemed chair of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom, has recently spoken out about his apprehensions regarding the current state of television. In an interview with Boom Radio scheduled for April 21st, Grade expressed his dismay over what he perceives as a trend towards more exploitative and less sophisticated programming in the industry.

Grade, a seasoned veteran in the television landscape, remarked that television has become increasingly "exploitative and cruel," with the pursuit of ratings taking precedence over quality content. He bemoaned the lack of genuine craftsmanship and artistic merit in many modern shows, decrying the patronizing attitude towards audiences and the absence of thoughtful storytelling.

Furthermore, Grade raised concerns about the growing reliance on reality TV shows, such as "The Traitors," "Love Island," and "Big Brother," which have garnered substantial audiences and dominated terrestrial TV ratings in recent years. He noted a shift away from professional entertainers towards using the public as performers, lamenting the decline of traditional entertainment values in favor of sensationalism.

The 81-year-old industry veteran, who has held key positions at prominent broadcasters including the BBC, Channel 4, and ITV, emphasized the importance of maintaining a balance between freedom of expression and the need for impartiality in broadcasting. He acknowledged the ongoing debate surrounding GB News and its employment of Conservative MPs on its programs, but refrained from commenting on ongoing investigations into complaints about the channel.

Grade also touched upon the financial challenges facing traditional British broadcasters, citing the escalating costs of producing quality programming. He questioned whether there would be sufficient funding available to continue investing in programs tailored specifically for the British audience, particularly those with limited international appeal. Grade highlighted recent productions like "Mr. Bates vs the Post Office," an ITV dramatization of the Horizon IT scandal, as examples of expensive yet important content that could be at risk due to budget constraints.

Reflecting on his own career, Grade recalled past controversies, including being dubbed the "pornographer-in-chief" during his tenure at Channel 4. Despite such criticisms, he maintained that he never transmitted anything remotely pornographic and defended his decisions as essential to the channel's brand identity. Grade recounted a specific incident during his time as BBC One controller when a sex scene in "The Singing Detective" sparked outrage, but he stood by the episode, deeming it integral to the plot and defensible in the face of public scrutiny.

In conclusion, Grade's remarks shed light on the challenges facing the television industry, from concerns about the quality of programming to the financial pressures on traditional broadcasters. As the chair of Ofcom, he remains committed to upholding standards of excellence and accountability in broadcasting, while also advocating for the preservation of artistic integrity and the protection of viewer interests.


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