Edinburgh International Television Festival

The Edinburgh International Television Festival is an annual media event held in the United Kingdom each August which brings together delegates from the television and digital world to debate the major issues facing the industry.

Edinburgh International Television Festival
Dates2020: 26–28 August (exact dates vary each year)
CountryScotland, UK
Years active1976–present

The Festival draws about 2,000 delegates from the major networks and production companies internationally. Although the festival is held in Edinburgh, its headquarters are in London.[1]

History and outline

Over the years, the Festival has attracted industry figures including Kevin Spacey, Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, Ricky Gervais, Vince Gilligan, Tessa Ross, Jamie Oliver, Simon Cowell, Ted Sarandos and Elisabeth Murdoch, as well as people from related fields such as Al Gore and Germaine Greer.

Established in 1976, the Festival takes place every August at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre concurrently with the Edinburgh International Festival, and similar events, in the city. The Edinburgh International Television Festival remains the only event both run by and for the television industry, being governed by its own Executive and Advisory committees. The Festival is a charitable organisation.

The Festival run two talent schemes – "The Network" (formerly known as TVYP) which gives new entrants a first step into the TV and digital industries, while "Ones to Watch" (formerly known as Fast Track) supports those at the early stages of their career. Both benefit from fully funded places at the Festival, which include tailored workshops, masterclasses and networking. Year-round mentoring, training and events are also offered.

The Festival runs other events throughout the year. These include EdTalks lectures and Q & A's with channel bosses from across the globe.

The MacTaggart Lecture

The Festival is best known for its keynote address: the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture. The lecture features speeches from leading media figures connected with British and international television over more than 40 years.[2]

YearSpeakerJob title*
1976John McGrathDramatist and director, founder of 7:84 Theatre Company
1977Marcel OphülsFrench/US documentary film maker (The Sorrow and the Pity/Le Chagrin et la Pitié)
1978Norman LearAmerican television producer and scriptwriter
1979Jeremy Isaacsformer Director of Programmes for Thames Television (later Chief Executive, Channel 4)
1980John MortimerScreenwriter and dramatist
1981Peter JayEconomist and broadcaster, Chairman of TV-am
1982Ted TurnerAmerican television executive, founder of CNN
1983Jonathan MillerStage and television director/producer and broadcaster
1984Denis FormanChairman, Granada Television
1985John SchlesingerFilm and television director
1986Troy Kennedy MartinTelevision dramatist
1987Phillip WhiteheadTelevision documentary producer
1988Christine OckrentBelgian/French journalist and broadcaster
1989Rupert MurdochAustralian/American Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, News Corporation
1990Verity LambertIndependent film and television producer
1991David ElsteinDirector of Programmes, Thames Television
1992Michael GradeChief Executive, Channel 4
1993Dennis PotterTelevision dramatist and screenwriter
1994Greg DykeChief Executive of LWT, Chairman of ITV Council and GMTV
1995Janet Street-PorterBroadcaster and journalist
1996John BirtDirector General, BBC
1997Laurence Marks and Maurice GranTelevision comedy scriptwriters and programme creators
1998Peter BazalgetteManaging Director, Bazal
1999Richard EyreChief Executive, ITV Network
2000Greg DykeDirector General, BBC
2001David LiddimentDirector of Channels, ITV Network
2002Mark ThompsonChief Executive, Channel 4
2003Tony BallChief Executive, BSkyB
2004John HumphrysBroadcaster and journalist
2005Lord BirtFormer Director General, BBC
2006Charles AllenChief Executive, ITV
2007Jeremy PaxmanBroadcaster and presenter of Newsnight (BBC)
2008Peter FinchamDirector of Television, ITV
2009James MurdochChairman and Chief Executive, Europe and Asia, News Corporation
2010Mark ThompsonDirector General, BBC
2011Eric SchmidtUS citizen, Executive Chairman, Google
2012Elisabeth MurdochChairman, Shine Group
2013Kevin SpaceyAmerican actor, director and producer
2014David AbrahamChief Executive, Channel 4
2015Armando IannucciBroadcaster, writer, director and producer
2016Shane SmithCanadian journalist and chief executive of Vice Media[3]
2017Jon SnowJournalist and broadcaster[4]
2018Michaela CoelActress and writer
2019 Dorothy Byrne Head of News and Current Affairs, Channel 4
2020 David Olusoga Historian and broadcaster
2021 Jack Thorne Screenwriter and playwright[5]
2022 Emily Maitlis Journalist and broadcaster[6]

* All job titles as at the time the lecture was given. Nationality/citizenship is British unless stated otherwise.

See also

  • List of television festivals


  1. "Contact Us — the Edinburgh International Television Festival". Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  2. "MACTAGGART LECTURE ARCHIVE". Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  3. Jackson, Jasper; Sweney, Mark (28 August 2016). "Vice's founder thinks television is failing young people – is he right?". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  4. "MacTaggart Speaker Announced — The Edinburgh International Television Festival". Archived from the original on 23 July 2017.
  6. Twitter, Dominic Ponsford (25 August 2022). "Emily Maitlis MacTaggart lecture: How reporters should cover populism". Press Gazette. Retrieved 4 September 2022. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
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