Edinburgh International Television Festival
Dates2023: 22–25 August (exact dates vary each year)
CountryScotland, UK
Years active1976–present

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.

The Festival draws over 2,200 delegates from across the global TV industry. 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 Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, Vince Gilligan, Ted Sarandos, Elisabeth Murdoch, Louis Theroux, Michaela Coel, David Attenborough, Charlie Brooker, David Olusoga and Steve Coogan as well as people distinguished in their fields such as Al Gore and Eric Schmidt.

Established in 1976, the Festival takes place every August in the week leading up to the bank holiday at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre at the same time as the Edinburgh Fringe, and similar events, in the city. The Edinburgh International Television Festival is programmed by and for the television industry, by a rotating advisory committee headed by a new chair every year. The Festival is wholly owned by a not-for-profit charity, known publicly as The TV Foundation and is governed by its own board of directors.

The TV Foundation runs a suite of free-to-access creative development initiatives: "The Network" (formerly known as TVYP) which gives new entrants a first step into the TV industry, while "Ones to Watch" (formerly known as Fast Track) supports those at mid-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. Launched in 2018 these include AHTV and The New Voice Awards which support emerging talent and self-starting creatives in TV and digital.

The MacTaggart Lecture

The Festival is best known[citation needed] 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]

Year Speaker Job title*
1976 John McGrath Dramatist and director, founder of 7:84 Theatre Company
1977 Marcel Ophüls French/US documentary film maker (The Sorrow and the Pity/Le Chagrin et la Pitié)
1978 Norman Lear American television producer and scriptwriter
1979 Jeremy Isaacs former Director of Programmes for Thames Television (later Chief Executive, Channel 4)
1980 John Mortimer Screenwriter and dramatist
1981 Peter Jay Economist and broadcaster, Chairman of TV-am
1982 Ted Turner American television executive, founder of CNN
1983 Jonathan Miller Stage and television director/producer and broadcaster
1984 Denis Forman Chairman, Granada Television
1985 John Schlesinger Film and television director
1986 Troy Kennedy Martin Television dramatist
1987 Phillip Whitehead Television documentary producer
1988 Christine Ockrent Belgian/French journalist and broadcaster
1989 Rupert Murdoch Australian/American Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, News Corporation
1990 Verity Lambert Independent film and television producer
1991 David Elstein Director of programmes, Thames Television
1992 Michael Grade Chief executive, Channel 4
1993 Dennis Potter Television dramatist and screenwriter
1994 Greg Dyke Chief executive of LWT, Chairman of ITV Council and GMTV
1995 Janet Street-Porter Broadcaster and journalist
1996 John Birt Director general, BBC
1997 Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Television comedy scriptwriters and programme creators
1998 Peter Bazalgette Managing director, Bazal
1999 Richard Eyre Chief executive, ITV Network
2000 Greg Dyke Director general, BBC
2001 David Liddiment Director of channels, ITV Network
2002 Mark Thompson Chief executive, Channel 4
2003 Tony Ball Chief executive, BSkyB
2004 John Humphrys Broadcaster and journalist
2005 Lord Birt Former director general, BBC
2006 Charles Allen Chief executive, ITV
2007 Jeremy Paxman Broadcaster and presenter of Newsnight (BBC)
2008 Peter Fincham Director of Television, ITV
2009 James Murdoch Chairman and chief executive, Europe and Asia, News Corporation
2010 Mark Thompson Director general, BBC
2011 Eric Schmidt US citizen, executive chairman, Google
2012 Elisabeth Murdoch Chairman, Shine Group
2013 Kevin Spacey American actor, director and producer
2014 David Abraham Chief executive, Channel 4
2015 Armando Iannucci Broadcaster, writer, director and producer
2016 Shane Smith Canadian journalist and chief executive of Vice Media[3]
2017 Jon Snow Journalist and broadcaster[4]
2018 Michaela Coel Actress 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]
2023 Louis Theroux Journalist, broadcaster and author[7]

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

See also


  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. ^ Ponsford, Dominic (25 August 2022). "Emily Maitlis MacTaggart lecture: How reporters should cover populism". Press Gazette. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  7. ^ "Louis Theroux To Deliver The MacTaggart Lecture 2023 - The TV Festival". 29 June 2023. Retrieved 14 September 2023.