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To Serve the People
To Serve the People
Not been able to put it down all weekend; fascinating, funny, gossipy but above all essential reading for anyone who needs to understand UK independent broadcasting
Publication date: 2013
Total pages: 400
ISBN: 9780 86196 710 0
Price: £ 25.00
In 1982 John Whitney was invited to become Director General of the Independent Broadcasting Authority in London. Some short time after he started keeping a detailed diary which he would write up on Sunday evenings. The book that follows is drawn from these diaries at the time and covers the years in which television and radio faced more challenges than at any time in their history. As regulator, the IBA, was subject to political pressures that brought about its abolition and rebirth as the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority. During his time as Director General, the IBA was in conflict with the government over the programme Death on the Rock, oversaw the battle between the BBC and Thames Television for possession of the rights to Dallas, acted as “honest broker” during the financial crisis at ITN and faced the impact of the Peacock Committee Report, which marked a turning point in broadcasting policy and signaled a decisive shift toward the construction of a market framework for the delivery of broadcast services.
Not been able to put it down all weekend; fascinating, funny,
gossipy but above all essential reading for anyone who needs to understand
UK independent broadcasting from the regulator’s point of view during a
crucial time - Thatcher, Death on the Rock, TV-AM, and the move from ILR
to ‘Commercial Radio’. It really is superb.
John Whitney left the Quaker school Leighton Park at the age of 17 to
start a business recording bands at local dance halls in his home county
Having been turned down by the BBC, he formed a small company with an
ex-BBC producer Monty Bailey-Watson and a school friend Joseph Sturge,
creating and producing radio programmes for use by sponsors advertising
on Radio Luxembourg. The company proved a success, attracting major
With commercial radio in the UK becoming a reality, John founded the
Local Radio Association with John Gorst as Secretary.
Following The Sound Broadcasting Act in 1972 John became Managing
Director of the London radio station Capital Radio, with a Board led by
While at Capital, he started Sagitta Productions with John Hawkesworth,
and the company produced television series including Upstairs
Downstairs, Danger UXB and The Planemakers, as well as
a number of single dramas.
And then, in 1982, John became Director General of the Independent
In 1989 John left the IBA and became Managing Director and then Chairman of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s company, the Really Useful Group Ltd. Since that time he has held numerous posts within broadcasting and was Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at his retirement in 2007, and in 2008 was awarded the CBE for his services to broadcasting and charity.