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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Inspiring Diversity, Banishing Boxes'

Holly and I spent last Friday at Channel 4 last Friday for PACT’s Equality Act – Inspiring Diversity, Banishing Boxes’ event.  4 panels, each looking at a different area of diversity, produced by BBC, Channel 4, Sky and ITV.  

It’s easy to think about diversity in TV in fairly narrow terms, so what I thought was great about this event, was that the debate included issues around class, gender and age as well as addressing issues around representation of disability and ethnicity, both on and off screen.

The event pulled together an excellent, and of course very diverse, range of speakers and chairs, including Cbeebies star Cerrie Burnell, Maroon productions Paul Blake, broadcaster John Stapleton, Wall to Wall’s Alex Graham Baby Cow’s Henry Normal and Sky’s Lucy Lumsden.    

But I have to hold my hands up and admit my personal highlight was Baroness Floella Benjamin asking all us Playschool babies in the audience to identify themselves and their favourite window (yes, my hand shot up, and it was the round window if you’re interested.)
It may be poor quality but a very cool pic none the less!

Apart from Floella, I was really impressed by was the no-nonsense advice from certain panellists, particularly presenter Nikki Fox on making adjustments for disabled production staff – along the lines of don’t make assumptions on what people will and won’t need,  just ask them, they WON’T be offended! - and the totally accessible legal advice from lawyers at Lewis Silkin. Also it was great to catch up with Endemol, Skillset and all the other supporters of our own campaign to being more diversity off screen through the MGEITF talentschemes.  

Talking of which… on February 13th we’ll be opening for applications to TheNetwork, which we think is the best and most accessible introduction to TV there is. We are really keen to spread the word about the scheme and we’re always available to come and give targeted talks about the scheme to underrepresented groups so do get in touch if you have any ideas on that or if you wish to receive our postcards to distribute yourselves. 

Caroline Meaby
MGEITF Talent Schemes Director

Monday, 30 January 2012

2012 MacTaggart Announced...

After much speculation and rumour I am delighted to confirm that Elisabeth Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of Shine Group, will deliver this year’s MacTaggart Lecture.  We’re thrilled with this news and look forward to hearing Elisabeth’s unique perspective on the global television industry and her approach to running one of the most successful production companies in the world.

With Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Sue Vertue all confirmed to give a Sherlock master class too, plus other exciting sessions to be announced very soon, early signs are good for this year’s Festival.

Do give me feedback on any of the above – it’s always great to hear your views..

Don't forget 100 tickets are available for the super early bird rate! Don't delay...

Louise Benson 
Festival Director

Reclaim your August Bank Holiday Weekend!

In response to popular demand from people wanting to reclaim their Bank Holiday weekends I am very pleased to let you know that for the first time the Festival will run from Thurs- Sat, not the traditional Fri- Sun. 


The format will remain the same but hopefully this will give you a chance to enjoy the last weekend of the summer hols doing whatever it is you like doing when you’re not working in TV!

Louise Benson
Festival Director

Friday, 27 January 2012

Any time, Any place, Anywhere.

At this week’s Oxford Media Convention  I was thrilled to hear both Lord Patten and David Abraham announce their ongoing commitments to new and emerging types of TV. 

Lord Patten discussed “fluidity in the commissioning system", and ideas no longer being defined by their channel, time slot, demographic or cost.  

David Abraham renewed Channel 4’s commitment to creative diversity and “digital pathfinding” as well as announcing an additional £80m to Channel 4’s commissioning budget for 2012.

It’s such an exciting time to be in TV, as Mark Thompson’s Martini Media speech of 2006 becomes a fact of life for so many of us, and the very definition of television is stretched to breaking point.  And yet the most brilliant linear programmes continue to get commissioned and made and watched by record levels of people. 

I can’t wait to hear you challenging the controllers on the details of their strategies and more at the 2012 Festival.   And with sessions on connected TV, convergent formats, self-broadcasting and the new breeds of indie all in development already, as well as more exciting masterclasses than you can shake a stick at, the Festival promises to be bursting with information, inspiration and creative chutzpah.   

So make a date to consume this particular piece of content in Edinburgh in August with us.  It’s what they call appointment to view.

To let you in on a secret… registrations for the festival will launch Monday!  In response to customer feedback, this year 100 delegate places will be reserved for sale at a super early bird rate.
These will be allocated on a first come first served basis so hurry and get yourself a great value ticket to Edinburgh! And don't forget to tell your friends! 

Louise Benson
Festival Director

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Getting your foot in the door

I’m having a bit of a nostalgic moment this week....

As MGEITF gets ready to open applications for TV talent scheme The Network, I remember being a Communications student and being very jealous of my Broadcast student buddies at LSTV who were slowly breaking their way into the world of television.  I didn’t realise how many opportunities there were out there to give ordinary untrained people a leg up in the industry, and I had no idea how successful these opportunities were at getting you experience and jobs afterwards!  A placement at BBC Leeds PR Department got me a firm foot in the door.  It wasn’t glamorous at first, but at the end of the placement I’d unknowingly made some invaluable contacts who then helped me get work on really fun programmes such as Comic Relief and Children in Need.  I also learnt to make seriously good tea.

My point is, if you want to break into TV, put yourself in situations where you can MEET relevant people, and thank goodness for schemes like The Network which can do just that.

Happy networking!

Rebecca Lott,
Online Communications and Customer Experience Executive

Monday, 23 January 2012

“You can’t be very busy at this time of year..”

That’s what I’ve been hearing from so many people ever since September, when the curtain fell on MGEITF 2011.  With all the excitements of my first Festival a recent happy memory, the assumption among a lot of people I talk to is that we at Festival Towers have been sitting back and settling for a nice quiet winter, watching a bit of telly perhaps, but not really doing very much…

Well of course we were all pleased to have the heat turned down a little, as the editorial and logistical challenges of managing 56 sessions and 151 speakers, as well as awards, parties, dinners and a village fete began to fade from our lives. But the truth is, we’ve all been extremely busy preparing the foundations for our 2012 event!

Kenton and I are locked in an endless (and enjoyable) conversation about issues, master classes, keynotes, MacTaggart lecture rumours, the opening session, the closing session, the in between sessions etc.  With our  41 strong advisory committee we are cooking up some really cool ideas, and already talking to the talent that can make them happen.

Ellie Caddell and I are continuing our conversations with existing and future sponsors and funders, about how we can introduce more exciting and informative elements to the Festival, as well as more fun stuff for festival delegates to interact with between sessions (and more of those tasty smoothies please YouTube!).

And you’ll notice a few changes to our website this week.  Francesca and Amy have been bossing us all to create new content for every single page of the site, plus a few more. We hope the new site will be more informative, easier to navigate and feature better functionality to the previous version.  Plus my new blog of course. We’d love your feedback so do please let us know.

And I’m actually writing this on the train coming back from Manchester, having attended our first regional advisory committee,  that kicks off in Manchester for 2012, chaired by Sumi Connock. The plan is for it to take place in a different region each year, to reflect the increasing spread of production into the regions, and give voice to the thousands of TV folk working outside of London when planning the sessions.  I hope you’ll see a positive impact on the Festival when it launches.

With new and exciting plans for our social networks (look out for special offers and benefits available exclusively through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter), and some yet to be announced London events in the offing, it’s fair to say we’ve been busy bees all through the winter, and we’ve plenty of announcements to make over the coming months!

Just don’t ask me what I actually do once the Festival is over… ;-)

Louise Benson,
Festival Director