Edinburgh International TV Festival: ITV rebrand marked its “creative renewal”, says director of TV Peter Fincham

"I've always disagreed with the 'control' aspect of controller, I prefer to be thought of as more of an enabler of content," explained ITV director of television Peter Fincham in one of the first 'Meet the Controller' sessions at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, following Kevin Spacey's MacTaggart Lecture which called for control to be handed back to the creatives.

Fincham described Spacey's speech as an "optimistic MacTaggart" that was "fundamentally positive" and despite the changing nature of the space was "pro-television".

Over the last year Fincham oversaw a major rebrand of the ITV product, launched in January Fincham said the decision to roll out the new branding over the course of a day was "ambitious".

Speaking of the new look Fincham said: "[The new look] is part and parcel of defining what's on screen at the moment. We wanted the look to represent us moving forward and being more than just a commercial business, in my opinion there is lots of progress to be made. For me it's part of a creative renewal."

One such element of that creative renewal is what Spacey called "the third golden age of television" last night in his MacTaggart address.

Speaking of ratings and defining success Fincham said: “Even though the digital switchover has occurred there is still a difference between the mainstream, those that used to be terrestrial, and digital and catch up TV and VOD as well.

"I would rather not define it in terms of ratings alone. What Spacey was observing was that innovative drama in the US is on cable and there is a pressure on us - the mainstream broadcasters in the UK - to innovate the way cable does in America.

"It would be counter-productive to be slavish to ratings, creating a Cold War atmosphere where you'll go all out just to beat the competition, you have to be careful with that as it might create an environment where you can't be creative and innovative."

Speaking of creativity and innovation Fincham moved onto address Broadchurch. Widely lauded as one of ITVs biggest successes in recent years the eight-part crime drama was "one of the best examples of trust the talent," according to Fincham.

"We didn't know that it would grip the nation. What was unusual with Broadchurch is we decided to run no 'next time' trail at the end and that in itself was a bold decision, it's there to tempt and tease an audience to come back. Broadchruch was very against modern trends, and it reminded us of the deferred pleasure television can have.

"Instead of the Spacey model of binge viewing, Broadchurch was enhanced by the linear schedule and became a real social experience."

As well as drama the jewel in ITV’s crown is big budget entertainment, The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent being the two most obvious examples.

"One of ITV’s jobs is to come up with Saturday night TV and it might not have critics salivating...it's hard to find new entertainment that will work in the mainstream space. But I do think we are in a real golden age for entertainment."

Looking to the year ahead Fincham again discussed ratings. "Numbers are just one gauge. We have a habit of being ratings junkies and ultimately ratings don't matter to viewers. For them it's about quality of programmes. Creativity and commitment to brilliant television is what we want to be about. Simple as that," he added.

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