Looking ahead to Edinburgh

It's that time of year again - the late August UK bank holiday weekend that marks the arrival of the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival. Here's an overview of what's on tap for this year's edition.
August 27, 2009

Riding the waves of change and coping with the credit crunch will be two of the key threads running through content at this year’s MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, running from August 28-30 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. As with previous years, the conference, founded in 1976, gathers some of the top names in international television to discuss the issues that are top of mind, and this year is no exception.

The James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture, to be held on Friday the 28th, will be delivered by James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive, Europe and Asia, News Corporation, and chairman of BSkyB. A post-lecture Q&A will be held on Saturday morning. An ‘Alternative MacTaggart’ session, also to be held on Saturday, will feature comedians and primetime entertainment hosts Ant & Dec ( I’m A Celebrity Get me Out of Here, Britain’s Got Talent).

Among the executives taking part in this year’s round of ‘Meet the Controllers’ sessions are Angela Jain, head of E4, Channel 4; Hamish Mykura, head of MORE 4 & Documentaries , Channel 4; BBC Two’s Janice Hadlow; Richard Woolfe, Five; Julian Bellamy, head of programs, Channel 4; BBC One’s Jay Hunt; Zai Bennett, director of digital channels and acquisitions, ITV; Stuart Murphy, director of programs, Sky1 HD, Sky 1, 2 & 3; Claudia Rosencrantz, director of programming, Virgin Media TV; Peter Fincham, director of television channels & online, ITV; UKTV’s Matthew Littleford; and last but certainly not least, BBC Four’s Richard Klein.

Notable sessions in this year’s schedule include the ever-popular and irreverent ‘TV’s Got Talent,’ a live talent search involving show runners, researchers, producers and executive producers that kicks off the event. BBC business editor Robert Peston will deliver the Richard Dunn Memorial Lecture, while Ashley Highfield, managing director & vice president, consumer and online for Microsoft UK (and former director of future media for the BBC), will deliver the Futureview Address. The Channel of the Year Awards, to be decided by a live audience vote, will be held on Saturday night, and Gerhard Zeiler, chief executive officer, RTL Group will deliver the Worldview Address. Other panels of note for non-fiction producers, broadcasters and distributors include ‘New Best Friends: Brand and Documentaries’, ‘Duty of Care’ (examining the responsibilities producers and broadcasters of factual entertainment have towards programming participants), ‘PSB: The Insider’s Guide’ and ‘Surviving Reality TV.’ And although it doesn’t pertain to non-fiction content, ‘F*** the Casual Viewer,’ featuring The Wire creator David Simon, certainly sounds intriguing.

Executive committee chair for this year’s MGEITF is Tim Hincks, chief executive officer of Endemol UK, while the advisory committee is chaired by Elaine Bedell, director of entertainment and comedy for ITV. Watch for our coverage of the event on, and for more information, visit

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.