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Two tiers for TV

Pay television will not belong to Rupert Murdoch. But Barry Cox, a senior television executive, says it will create a two-tier system in which commercial values will dominate. It is up to politicians to ensure that the residual "free" service retains some of the qualities of public service broadcasting

By Barry Cox   March 1997

In the final week of January two events shook British broadcasting. Michael Grade, one of our most successful television executives, quit as head of Channel 4. Four days later the four biggest media organisations in the country-and four fierce rivals-combined to bid for the bulk of the new terrestrial digital licences on offer from the Independent Television Commission (ITC).

The two events are not obviously related. Yet both are reactions to the deep changes that are sweeping through the industry, in Britain as elsewhere. Grade is leaving television to run an entertainment group-a step which until very recently would have…

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