Many people, including broadcasters themselves, have been complaining for a long time that British television is too parochial. It has a traditional media view of the Third World-disasters punctuated by coups and endangered Britons. Its contribution towards the sustained and difficult task of development education is, at best, erratic. But the approach of Britain’s fourth national TV channel, which will take to the air in November 1982, has given birth to an encouraging initiative to redress the balance.
The Fourth Channel Development Education Group (FCDEG) came together last year when plans for a fourth TV channel were launched. At precisely the same time Mrs. Thatcher’s Government cut all public spending on development education. There are now over 55 members, ranging from Oxfam and the British Council of Churches to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
The group’s aim is twofold: to get more development education material onto the new channel (and other channels too) and to set up a small production company capable of supplying half an hour a week of such programmes. FCDEG has been pressing for two and a half hours a week (out of 50 hours total programming) to be devoted to development education in its widest sense. A few of the programmes might be geared to the school curriculum. But the group is anxious to avoid ‘a heavily pedagogic or or excessively propagandist air’. It is keen that development education programmes should be a reason for switching on to the new channel rather than switching off.
FCDEG is at 128 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1.