CONFRONTATIONAL JOURNALIST, Roger Cook has criticised ITV’s decision to cut budgets for quality programming, insisting that investment in output would benefit the corporation in the future.
Speaking at Thursday’s Coventry Conversation he claimed that viewers would be put off by the lack of provocative and entertaining productions and that ITV should “spend more money on programmes and less on personalities.”
Cook said: “How many programmes could you make if you didn’t employ Simon Cowell or Ant and Dec?” he asked.
His disapproval of the revelations stem from over two decades at Central television where he became renowned for challenging corruption and criminality in the ‘Cook Report’.
“In my view they are doing the wrong thing,” he stated. “Take money out of programmes and fewer people watch it, compounding the downward cycle.”
Cook, who has been a journalist for over forty years, remembers a time when ITV would invest vast amounts of money into factual programmes such as his very own Cook Report. “It was once a great institution,” he asserted.
“There was very high quality production in every area, but factual just about disappeared; the last remaining regular factual programme was mine.”
In a move aimed at cutting further costs throughout the organisation ITV also announced 600 job losses, a fact that concerned Cook. The veteran journalist expressed anxiety for the future of investigative journalism too, a craft with which he has become synonymous.
“Many investigative programmes can’t afford it now, the management and the commissioners seem to think that it is too much like hard work, and that it takes a lot of backing up.”
Asked about current investigative reporters, and the approach that they seem to embrace, Cook conveyed his lack of admiration for their varying methods.
“I think audiences aren’t stupid, and they very quickly recognise who a programme is being done for. Is it for the people in it, or the man presenting it?” he asked.
He also warned of the potential issues arising from the growing internet-based documentary movement claiming that “We are going up into the ether where there are no regulations, so you will have to believe less and less of what you see.”
Known as the ‘Godfather’ of modern investigative journalism, Cook recalled many thrilling near misses and numerous physical attacks as a consequence of his provocative ‘door-stepping’.
A full audience of students and locals attended the talk hosted by Coventry University lecturer John Mair, as Cook detailed the reputation that he had made for himself within the television and radio industry.
“I was described by an ITV commissioning editor as an elderly expensive dinosaur,” he proudly declared.
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