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Friday, 23 May 2014

MacTaggart and the business of creativity

'Who's giving the MacTaggart?' is a question that's been fired at me more times in past weeks than you'd
care to imagine.

Rightly so, because it's a very important question. The MacTaggart lecture is one of the most high-profile & prestigious platforms on the global television stage.

The best MacTaggarts are rousing, crowd-pleasing, championing. Or they are fearless, angry, challenging.

The most memorable set the agenda not just for the festival, but well beyond, and often, take aim at a perceived enemy. Who can forget James Murdoch taking on the BBC, describing its "scale and scope" as "chilling"? It's a debate that has raged and raged ever since.

Other MacTaggarts call for change, some successfully. In his lecture in 2010, then BBC DG Mark Thompson called for broadcasters such as Sky to start paying for its services. Retransmission fees wasn't the sexiest subject at the time but Thompson's plan has since seen the light of day.

Others reveal a personal side to a no-nonsense exec - Liz Murdoch gave a rare insight into her childhood and family dynamics.

And going further back, you have legendary MacTaggarts - Dennis Potter; provocative MacTaggarts - Janet Street Porter; plain-speaking MacTaggarts - Paxo and as last year, perfectly-performed MacTaggarts - Kevin Spacey.

Which of these we'll see from David Abraham remains to be seen but for Channel 4, it is a long-overdue opportunity - some 12 years since Thompson's MacTaggart as C4 CEO.

With our festival theme this year being the business of creativity, Abraham is perfectly placed to discuss the meeting of those two worlds. We look forward to hearing his vision for maintaining C4's cultural impact in a media landscape that has changed more in recent weeks than we've seen in many years.

Early Bird tickets for the 2014 Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival powered by YouTube are on sale now.

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