Though oft-quoted and somewhat lengthy, an observation once penned by science fiction deity Isaac Asimov serves as the best advice and warning to broadcasters today: ‘The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.’ Such is the landscape broadcasters face: decide what your viewers want now and in so many months, then guess what platform they want it on, and in what form. Then make the whole thing work financially.
Balancing the inherent risks of prescience against the fiscal realities of contemporary broadcasting is the job of the broadcasting maverick. Whether representing a private or public network, broadcast execs face increasing pressures and an ever-expanding pantheon of threats. Their survival often depends on their decisiveness, or their willingness to face adversity with audacity. What follows is a list of a few of the US and UK execs who have stepped up in the past year, and an update on some of those realscreen dubbed as mavericks this time last year. While not an exhaustive list – many of the boldest moves broadcasters make are never made public – those who follow are truly ‘risk takers’ in the best sense of the words.