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Made in Scotland - Scottish Screen

Made in Scotland - Scottish Screen

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made in scotland made in scotland MNEMEDIA Stuart Cosgrove “We’re on the edge of the top 100 media companies in the UK this year, and at a time when the number of independent companies has dropped across the board, that’s something we can be proud of,” says MNE’s Managing Director Allan MacDonald. “We started out as a small company in Benbecula, MacDonald embraces the fact that Gaelic is at the heart of his company’s content, he also sees the company’s 17 years of experience in the Scottish media rubbing off and helping to develop other ideas in new areas. “We’ve recently been able to expand our own web presence with our sports channel, www.bounci.tv, which includes transmissions of popular sports like Scotland’s other national game, shinty. There’s certainly a lot more business skills and professionalism in the industry than when we started out, but there’s still lots As well as one of Scotland’s most recognised football pundits, Stuart Cosgrove is also Director of Channel Four Nations and Regions. Cosgrove describes recent developments in technology as having a ‘seismic change’, and one that has implications for the future of the traditional broadcaster-audience relationship. “Broadcasters emerged in an era of spectrum scarcity, they decided what we can see, when and in what order. That patrician, top-down approach is already dated and will be consigned to history,” he says. “People will still want recommendations and help on finding quality and they will still want surprises too. But the broadcaster's role will move in the direction of the curator; they will help put things into editorial shape and context.” At Channel Four, Cosgrove is upbeat about the broadcaster’s rapid response to the introduction of digital media. “All forms of media are in constant flux and probably the biggest single change is the move to digital switchover which means a break from the linear past. The changes are historic, leading to increased interactivity, such as the rise of user-generated media, or on-demand viewing,” he says. “Channel 4 was the first European broadcaster to offer a video-on-demand service 4OD.” And Cosgrove believes the impact of the internet on communication will end up challenging the existing structures of the media. “Three major new factors are coming into place: user-generation, peer-to-peer networking and, for me the most interestingly of all, collaborative and open-source knowledge networks like Linux or Wikipedia,” says Cosgrove. “Although very different, they both show that communal and shared knowledge is always greater than individual expertise. This challenges the patrician and authoritarian role that state broadcasting has played in the UK since the early days of the BBC.” www.channel4.com “The biggest single change is the move to digital switchover” - Stuart Cosgrove “There’s no reason to think that we’re only reaching out to a Scottish audience” - Allan MacDonald but are by far and away Scotland’s most travelled indie across the world. Taking advantages of the changes created by the Communications Act has meant an opportunity to grow and focus our genres, into areas like factual, drama, sport and cookery.” MNE’s development started with initial success in both Gaelic and English language programming, and while of work to be done to connect network broadcasters to independents, and to attract and retain talent in Scotland. We need to keep our intellectual property here.” Forging relationships with Irish broadcasters like TG4, and producers like Tyrone Productions and Eo Teilifis, or with high-definition television broadcast companies in Canada indicates that MNE is taking the widest view possible in terms of future expansion, but MacDonald takes most satisfaction from the way his company has played its hand in an intensely competitive industry. “The Communications Act meant there was more opportunity for companies to own the assets of their own programmes, and that allowed us to diversify; we’ve moved into new editorial areas with sporting heroes like David Coulthard, Henrik Larsson and Andy Murray appearing in our programmes, or making fifteen episodes of the Seasonally Scottish cookery programmes with Claire MacDonald for UKTV. So while Gaelic programming is at the core of what we do, it also enables us to look towards a wider, international audience. Seasonally Scottish sold in many countries even as far away as New Zealand, so there’s no reason to think that we’re only reaching out to a Scottish audience. It’s not about a lifestyle, it’s about doing good business.” www.mnemedia.tv. page 18 page 19

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