East Heslington TV | Brussels Blog

East Heslington TV

posted by on 16th Jan 2011

Greg Dyke gave a “keynote speech on the future of British TV” at the University of York last week. He explained his view of current government thinking. Jonathan Hunt unveils the Government’s plans this week, which are expected to allow multi-media companies to run local TV, the local newspaper, internet news and local radio.

Greg gave the arguments – the declining fortunes of the newspapers due to a decline in print advertising now we have the internet. It would make sense to share costs locally with TV, internet news and radio and be good for democracy.

Next days report in The Press (previously The Yorkshire Evening Press) reported

In York, a number or organisations – including The Press, Science City York, the city council and the University of York – have already been holding talks to look at the possibility of setting up just such a local station.

This made me groan.

The Press I grudgingly admire. I don’t like it as much as when it was The Yorkshire Evening Press, when it was possible to catch up with the events of the day – local and national – in the evening. Now The Press has less staff and less print runs but these are inevitable consequences of the switch in advertising revenue. It is a shame but under the circumstances understandable. I still buy the paper.

Something in York City Council I distrust that I have yet to crystallise but opposing various planning policies over the decades has given me a perception that there are agendas hidden from the likes of us or even the likes of me, at times a tenacious planning activist. The latest irritation concerns the extension to the Coppergate shopping centre – council supported plans that were rejected a decade or so ago. A recent report was commissioned to breathe life into the project again. My local councillor has asked what sum was paid for the report and also asked to see the communications initiating the report. Nearly three months later he has had no reply.

The University has become mega edubusiness. Financed in part by the enormous value which comes its way through being able to obtain planning permissions probably worth hundreds of millions of pounds. The edubusiness sector is now issuing credentials to allow people to work as journalists. They are expanding the scope of their credentials. In York’s case this has little to do with bringing democracy to the people of York. The aim of edubusiness is to grow. York’s edubusiness is growing big time.

Lucky for Greg Dyke that the Hillingdon Mirror and the Slough Evening Mail were not credentialist. Soon after leaving school the Hillingdon Mirror gave him a job even though he only had one A-level – a grade E in mathematics. He became chief reporter within eight months. But later, after a few years at the Slough Evening Mail he applied for a job at the new BBC Radio Teesside in 1970. The BBC have been in the vanguard of credentialism (see the footnote by Anton Stark below) and it’s not surprising that he didn’t get the job.

A few years ago I had a chat show on the television station York TV, which is based out of town on a hill near Askham Bryan. Guests were happy to appear and some of them drove out there on their own cars. Most times we gave the guests a lift out there in our cab. Riding in with the guests was often fun. More onerous was the effort of getting recordings of York citizen’s to the station in time to be processed for the show. It may have started as York TV, having some presence in town, but when I did my bit it was rapidly becoming Askham Bryan TV.

Facilities in York University’s new Department of Theatre, Film and Television may be wonderful but interesting television focussed on local people can be made with equipment not much more expensive than a mobile phone. But it must be a TV station based in the centre of York. We don’t want East Heslington TV. (To grasp what can be done when high quality equipment is not always available listen to the BBC World Service. Probably the best radio station in the world where quality shines through crackling phone lines.)

My best hope is that The Press goes it alone. I have bought the name www.yorkpress.tv, if they choose to go it alone – and are independent of the University and big vested interests – I will be delighted to talk about transferring the name to them.

I have also bought www.eastheslington.tv. Any ideas?

Geoff Beacon

P.S. Brussels legal note.

If the York University is involved in a commercial TV station in York, will there be a suspicion of cross subsidy. Legal advice that I have received suggests that a challenge on the basis of European competition law may have some merit.

P.P.S. From the vaults.

9th march 2003: Anton Stark: Necessary credentials at the BEEB

I left school at 18. I took three A levels but as I was moving house and starting a new job, I have never discovered if I passed or what grades I got. I am now 35 and have worked all the time since except for one month when the company I worked for went bust.

I started as a retail assistant in a photo shop. I then got a job in London working for a photographer for two years before returning North to work in a photographic studio in Leeds. After five years, the studio went bust and I started my own business, which become so successful I have saturated my particular market.

While I was working in London, I applied to the BBC for the position of trainee cameraman. Out of hundreds of applicants I survived three interviews and got down to the final dozen. I remember that there were about as many jobs as final interviewees. I was offered a place by letter shortly afterwards.

Within days I received a phone call to double check my physics O level result. I had a C grade but BBC Recruitment insisted on a B grade. They had initially misread the CV and thought I had a B. So no job. They did say I could reapply the following year with a B grade in O level physics and I would be offered a job.

Of course, I followed other avenues.

Update on Anton’s progress at http://antonstark.com/location.htm

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