BBC Head Honcho Settles Old Scores at London Ad Gathering

21 May 2002

Greg Dyke, director general of the publicly-owned British Broadcasting Corporation and a multimillionaire in his own right (thanks to share options gained during his earlier commercial incarnation as a director of London Weekend Television, ingested by Granada Media in 1994) took his opportunity to verbally settle a few old scores as part of his address to Monday’s Advertising Association annual lunch.

Clearly still rankling from the hostile takeover - LWT did not go gently into that good night - Dyke disguised his rancour behind a jokey facade, saying that the recent £900 million failure of Granada’s co-owned ITV Digital was “perfect revenge”.

He continued, to amazed gasps from the audience: “As the Italians say, 'revenge is a dish best delivered cold'. Of course, Granada shouldn't take all the blame for what happened to ITV Digital - just half of it.”

The assault continued with a reference to the recent ‘resignation’ of ITVd’s chief executive and scapegoat Stuart Prebble: “We are living in funny times - in the old days, if they lost an awful lot of their shareholders' money, generals fell on their swords. These days it's much more common for the generals to award themselves more share options while thrusting their swords into trusted lieutenants.”

Having got this off his chest, Dyke turned to the future of terrestrial digital television in the UK. This could be saved by reducing the number of channels on offer from 36 to 24; and also increasing the power of the signal, he opined.

Digital terrestrial TV should become a free-to-air platform offering an additional 10 to 15 channels for a one-off payment of £99 or less for the receiving equipment.

Data sourced from multiple publications; additional content by WARC staff