Channel 4 head of News and Current Affairs Dorothy Byrne will give this year’s James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival.

As one of the longest-serving heads of commissioning in the television industry, she has been responsible for news and current affairs programmes that have had global and national impact, winning her numerous international Emmy, BAFTA and RTS Awards.

Byrne believes television is failing to rise to the challenges of our times. Television executives have lost the confidence to put forward big, controversial ideas about society when we need them. Meanwhile politicians are failing to put themselves up for proper interrogation and television journalists need to get together to condemn them for their failure to be held properly to account.

As a former World In Action producer and editor of ITV’s The Big Story she became Channel 4’s Head of News and Current Affairs in 2003, having previously edited Dispatches as well as producing arts and history series for the channel.

Byrne is a Visiting Professor at De Montfort University where Channel 4 supports an MA in Investigative Journalism.

She was made a fellow of The Royal Television Society for her “outstanding contribution to television” and received the Outstanding Contribution Award at the RTS Journalism Awards in 2018. She is a trustee of the Ethical Journalism Network which supports the development of ethical codes in journalistic organisations across the globe.

Dorothy Byrne said: “I am immensely honoured to be invited to give this address which is normally delivered by much taller people. I believe British television has lost the confidence to think big about society. Naturally I will also be reflecting on how male behaviour has changed over my decades in television and will have some tips for men in our industry.”

Advisory chair Kelly Webb-Lamb said: “No-one will be spared when Dorothy Byrne takes to the stage for this year’s MacTaggart lecture. A formidable journalist, producer and commissioner, she is one of the most respected – and dare I say feared – people in the industry. She’s astute, honest and completely unafraid – a dangerous combination as many a politician, business leader, TV exec and crook will attest to. She is also one of the funniest women I know whose anecdotes, observations and no-doubt industry call to arms will make the 44th MacTaggart one to remember.”

Ceo and Festival director, Lisa Campbell said: “Frank, fearsome & fearless, Dorothy Byrne has achieved legendary status in TV. With her decades of experience, ascerbic wit & sharp mind, everyone from media execs to politicians can expect to be challenged, outraged, amused & surprised – with plenty of headlines to follow.”

The MacTaggart Lecture has formed the centrepiece of the Festival since 1976. In the past it has been delivered by leading authors, playwrights, journalists, and media titans, including Dennis Potter, Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, Janet Street-Porter, John Schlesinger, Marcel Ophuls, Elisabeth Murdoch, Armando Iannucci and Jon Snow.

The session is produced by Joint ceo, Curve Media, Camilla Lewis.

Freeview and YouTube are joint headline sponsor of this year’s Festival.

Staff Reporter

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