Professor Brian Cox has made an impassioned plea for broadcasters to allow their audiences to discover shows in the way he once found Carl Sagan’s seminal 1980 series Cosmos.

“I worry that the fragmentation of television, the multiple channels, seems to ghettoise the audience. I don’t want a society when you are 15 years old you can sit in their bedroom and watch the computer games channel 24 hours a day because I want that 15 year old to be exposed to ideas,” Prof Cox told a keynote session at IBC 2014 in Amsterdam. “I worry about the people who stumble across ideas accidentally, how do you protect that in the society where you can sort what you want to watch.”

Prof Cox, whose new series Human Universe begins on the BBC next month, said the most Rethian act in broadcasting in recent years was the reboot of the Cosmos series by the US broadcaster Fox earlier this year.

“Broadcasting is the most powerful medium, so broadcasters have a responsiblity,” said Prof Cox “It’s supposed to attract a wide audience then expose the audience to something else.

“What makes me so happy about the new Cosmos is that in the most commercial environment you can do that. It’s social responsibilty and may big companies not just in media show they have a social responsibility”

Prof Cox said despite the fragmentation, television remained the dominant cultural force. “It is the dominant cultural force still. It’s only in the 1860s that we discovered electromagnetic waves and within 40 years you had radio and then shortly afterwards television. That’s one human lifetime.”

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