Bruce Gyngell

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Bruce Gyngell was a right-wing Australian media executive who is best known in the UK for having headed the ITV breakfast franchise TV-am in the mid to late 1980s. Gyngell was appointed at the insistence of the Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer who invested £1m in the failing company. [1]

Gyngell was 'an outspoken believer in market forces' and became 'Margaret Thatcher's favourite broadcasting executive'. [2] When Thatcher complained about ITV being the 'last bastion of restrictive practices,' Gyngell entered into an industrial dispute with his technicians, which resulting in the sacking of over 200 staff. [3] The Chicago based Museum of Broadcasting Communications gives the following account of the dispute:

The controversy surrounding Gyngell deepened when in 1987 he took on the broadcasting unions in much the same manner as his compatriot, Rupert Murdoch, had challenged the print unions. Needing to trim the coast of his regional studios, Gyngell wanted to replace workers with automated studios. The unions went on strike and for many months Gyngell and other managers ran the service, replacing local programming with a high dose of repeat imported programs. Gyngell eventually broke the strike by installing automated equipment and recruiting new, untrained staff whom he trained quickly, winning in the process a Department of Industry Award for innovations in staff development. [4]

According to Andrew Davidson, author of Under the Hammer - Greed and Glory Inside the Television Business, Gyngell's ruthlessness impressed Margaret Thatcher, and the two met in autumn 1988 and October 1989 to discuss government broadcasting policy. [5] Gyngell also become friendly with Brian Griffiths, head of Thatcher's economic think-tank, who was co-ordinating the Government's strategy on broadcasting reform. In 1988 Griffiths invited Gyngell to chair his charity, Cities in Schools and from then on its board met monthly in TV-am's offices. [6]

Notes

  1. David Keighley, 'OBITUARY: BRUCE GYNGELL', Independent, 9 September 2000
  2. Maggie Brown, 'Obituary: Bruce Gyngell. Maverick television chief who invented the breakfast television sofa and remained Australia's golden media boy for half a century', Guardian, 9 September 2000
  3. Maggie Brown, 'Obituary: Bruce Gyngell. Maverick television chief who invented the breakfast television sofa and remained Australia's golden media boy for half a century', Guardian, 9 September 2000
  4. The Museum of Broadcasting Communications, Encyclopedia of TV: Gyngell, Bruce by Elizabeth Jacka [Accessed 18 December 2009]
  5. Andrew Davidson, 'Breakfast at Sunset', Independent, 22 November 1992
  6. Andrew Davidson, 'Breakfast at Sunset', Independent, 22 November 1992