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The recent furore over Channel 4's child-rearing documentary series Bringing Up Baby illustrates the danger of relying too much on flashy formats

By Christopher Hird   November 2007

If you make documentaries for the main terrestrial television channels, one of the greatest challenges is getting the balance right between entertainment and information. Britain’s broadcasting system places some public service obligations on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, but television is also a mass medium and, quite apart from the fact that there is no point in making programmes which no one watches, most of these channels would go out of business if they didn’t get decent viewing figures. As one channel controller once put it, this process is “an endless navigation between the popular and the important,…

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