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About David Elstein

David Elstein is Chairman of openDemocracy's Board. He is also Chairman of the Broadcasting Policy Group. 

Articles by David Elstein

This week's editor

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Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The state of Channel 4

It should be much easier for Channel 4, unburdened by the in-house inertia of other broadcasters, to address the “nations and regions deficit” that disfigures the broadcasting sector. Is it time to relocate?

The meaning of Dunkirk

David Elstein, director of three episodes of the seminal "The World At War" series, finds Dunkirk to be a powerful film but one shorn of historical context. Here he fills in the vital gaps - and finds some curious anomalies.

Fox and Sky: what happens to media plurality now?

On June 29, the UK’s Culture Secretary stated that she would submit to a full competition review the 21st Century Fox bid for 100% control of Sky plc. Will it happen?

My Three Day war: a memoir

“With so much land captured, aren’t you ideally placed to offer the Arab nations a peace deal?” “King Hussein has my number – let him call me!”

Should the law be changed to make sure the BBC does not lose out in the steadily changing world of digital viewing?

The BBC demands that all distributors of digital TV give prime slots to BBC content – but why should they have this right?

The Sky bid: battle commences

No significant business decision at Sky has ever – ever – been taken without Rupert Murdoch's approval. So what difference might 100% ownership of Sky possibly entail?

ITV News takes another backward step

The end of ITV's "News at Ten" marks a step back for its current affairs coverage, and for the media plurality key to British democracy.

Was the Richmond Park by-election really a setback for Brexit?

Was it really Brexit which swung Richmond Park to the Lib Dems?

Rupert returns

21st Century Fox – the Murdoch family’s entertainment conglomerate – is bidding for the 61% of satellite broadcaster Sky it does not own. Predictably, alarm bells are ringing. What is at stake?

How to be President, in 140 characters or (much) less

Missive from New York. Traditional US media are struggling with the most surprising turn in US politics for decades. But it’s not all bad news.

The biggest Brexit scandal of them all

The most disturbing aspect of the referendum campaign was the failure to acknowledge – on either side of the argument – the issue that has now emerged: process.

Review: The Fall, series 3

The much-praised – but also much-criticised – BBC2 drama series “The Fall” has completed its third and final run. How far did its strengths out-weigh its weaknesses?

Channel 4: a national treasure?

Channel 4 has been named Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. But what does the future hold?

The Great British Bake Off defects to Channel 4 - what does it all mean?

How did a baking show become the BBC's biggest hit? And how risky is it for Channel 4 to bid £10 million a year more than the BBC was willing to pay to poach the programme?

Brexit: reflections from a Leave voter

Two months ago the EU referendum uncovered a deep split within the UK, and the passions and tensions that were released have not yet subsided. What does the future hold for an independent UK?

The fate of public service broadcasting

Uncritical defenders of public service broadcasting have turned a blind eye to its decline. This is not a time for conservatism but for long overdue transformation. 

The BBC White Paper show

The run up to last week’s government white paper was filled with scare stories about a war against the BBC. The final document could scarcely have been more pleasing for the corporation.

What is the vision behind the BBC White Paper?

Listen to a discussion about the long-term implications of this week’s government White Paper on the future of the BBC. 

The Whittingdale file: a plea for better journalism

It's a mystery as to why the national newspapers chose not to expose a juicy story about the UK culture secretary. But claiming that his policies were 'influenced' by the 'suppression' of the story is pure conjecture.

Channel 4: the case for privatisation

Privatisation may be the best way to strengthen Channel 4's public service remit.

The BBC: what is really going on?

Is the BBC spinning a big lie over the need to find cuts of between £550 and £700 million a year to fund the cost of the over-75 licences?

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. 

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