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About David Elstein

David Elstein is Chairman of openDemocracy's Board. He is also Chairman of the Broadcasting Policy Group and a director of Kingsbridge Capital Advisors. 

Articles by David Elstein

This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The BBC and the over-75s: what is the truth?

The BBC viscerally opposes subscription: it wants universal access to homes that only criminal enforcement can deliver.

Sequelitis: a dramatic affliction

All depends on plot quality - a tall order. Even the redoubtable French policier, “Spiral”, has to keep raising the stakes, personally, politically and criminally, to justify successive outings.

Channel 4: the joker in the pack

The privatisation of Channel 4, providing there were the right safeguards, might just be a means of re-invigorating public service broadcasting.

The BBC fight back begins

The BBC has published the first of four planned responses to the government Green Paper on Charter renewal. It is full of strong analysis, ambitions for the future and ambiguous financial forecasts. 

Red alert for the BBC: a response to Enders Analysis

The debate about the BBC's forthcoming Charter Renewal is inherently political.

The BBC and the Tories: is it war?

By sabre-rattling with this government, the BBC is provoking an unnecessary battle that will most likely be to its disadvantage. A change of strategy is needed. 

The BBC’s deal with the Tories: and the Tories’ deal with the BBC

The BBC’s addiction to the licence fee makes it an easy target for politicians seeking to off-load expenditure. But what does the latest deal mean, for the BBC and public service broadcasting?  

Is the licence fee value for money?

On 19 May Radio 4’s “You and Yours” hosted a debate on whether the licence fee was thought to be value for money. It raised as many questions as it answered.

Reflections on the election: lessons to be learned...

What happened on the 7th of May? And what next?

John Whittingdale is not 'anti-BBC'

The appointment of John Whittingdale as culture secretary is a wise move by Cameron. His expertise will be vital in ensuring that next year's BBC charter renewal is properly debated. 

Pinkoes and Traitors: the deeper debate

Jean Seaton’s feisty reply to critical reviews of her book invites us to reflect on history when we think about the future of the BBC. It’s a challenge that deserves a wide response. 

Does the governance and regulation of the BBC need to be changed?

The third City University and OurBeeb seminar on the future of the BBC was held on Thursday 26 March. This time, a real consensus began to emerge.

The election debates: winners and losers?

The broadcasters appear to have settled on a format for the UK election debates. But who won and who lost in this stand-off?

'Pinkoes and Traitors': a tunnel vision of broadcasting history

Jean Seaton’s latest history of the BBC is mired by typos, inconsistencies and factual errors. Far from incidental, this is symptomatic of a broader carelessness that ultimately undermines her analysis. 

The ‘Election Debates’ debate: is legislation the answer?

Ed Miliband has promised legislation that would see regulators imposing a debate structure at future general elections. Could it work? And is that the best answer? 

Could the BBC survive without the licence fee?

If licence fees are decriminalised, the BBC could lose £200 million a year in unpaid debts. Adopting a subscription system would be fairer and free it from political control

Lose the licence fee, abolish the Trust

A new House of Commons report sets out the issues for the forthcoming review of the BBC Charter. It calls for the abolition of the BBC Trust and a long-term replacement for the licence fee. 

Leon Brittan and Channel 4: an unsung role

A role not mentioned so far in the obituaries. In memoriam.

Leader debates: Cameron’s calculations

The broadcasters can't "empty chair" the Prime Minister - he may well get what he wants.

August 1914: another foreign war, another dodgy dossier

A new book throws startling new light on how Britain went to war in 1914, and how it published a deceptive document to try and explain the decision: what the author calls “a dodgy dossier”.

Broadcasting and the referendum

Claire Enders, the redoubtable media analyst, has taken a pasting today from over one hundred Guardian readers angered by her pessimistic prognosis for Scottish media, should “yes” prevail on Thursday.

‘An Honourable Woman’: an argument in two parts on how to judge a political drama

Diane Langford is angered by a BBC2 drama that purports to reflect the political realities in the Arab/Israeli conflict, yet in its “even-handedness” inescapably misrepresents the issues. But perhaps we are being told: don’t take all this plot stuff too seriously – I am writing drama, not history or current affairs. 

The BBC and the Scottish referendum

Lord Birt suggests a yes vote in Scotland would be a threat to the BBC. It needn't be.

The 40 lies the BBC tells about subscription

BBC's Head of Policy, James Heath, packs a staggering amount of untruths into a single post on the BBC blog.

Bigger or smaller? Who is right? Rupert or Tony?

An examination of the recent flow of speeches and deal proposals by leading media players, to see what clues to the future of the BBC they offer.

A schoolgirl was murdered

The task of driving invasions of privacy out of press behaviour does not require constant invocation of the death of 13-year-old Milly Dowler a dozen years ago.

The BBC’s Great War: a response by David Elstein

David Elstein responds to Adrian van Klaveren and Mark Hayhurst's defence of their WW1 programming.

The BBC's Great War

There are always two disciplines in play when broadcasting tackles history: one is broadcasting, the other is history. And the needs of broadcasting usually come first, as they do, in David Elstein's opinion, in the earliest of the 2500 hours worth of programming the BBC is transmitting in memory of the Great War.

Turning the tanker

Good-bye BBC 3! For David Elstein this signals not the end of civilisation but the inevitable consequences of cuts and changes – and speaks to how the new D-G is dealing with his Trustees.

Crimewatch: dupers or duped?

The October edition of Crimewatch, focussing on the case of Madeleine McCann, featured new photofits of a potential suspect - only, they weren't new. According to the Sunday Times, they had been repressed by the McCanns themselves. The failure of the BBC to report this is extraordinary.

Broadcasting for Scotland

Scotland's bid for autonomy is also a chance to build an independent media, one that is not based in London and puts Scottish perspectives first.

The BBC's structure may no longer be sustainable

The fiasco over severence payments at the BBC highlights far more deep-rooted problems at the BBC. Besides this astonishing largesse with public money there are fundamental cracks in governance structure that must surely be addressed.

Squandering public money, BBC style

The culture of severance packages at the BBC has been exposed as so reckless with public money that there is talk of the police being brought in. Here's why.

After 'The Fall'

The BBC needs to make a principled shift of resources in its drama offerings; less than it has spent in recent years in disposing of surplus bureaucrats.

An evening with the Iron Lady

David Elstein vividly recalls Thatcher coming to the studio for a 'live', hour long interview, followed by two whiskies and a cheery rebuke that no one really cares about monetarism.

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