Rivera to speak at Edinburgh TV fest

Vet journo joins Thompson, Middelhoff

LONDON — Geraldo Rivera will deliver a keynote address at this year’s Edinburgh Intl. Television Festival.

The contentious American TV journalist, who joined Fox News Channel last fall filing reports from Afghanistan and the Middle East, has agreed to be this year’s Alternative MacTaggart lecturer.

He said: “I’ll talk about how I perceive my role as a communicator and reporter and I’ll lay out my feeling that the media can be used as an instrument of positive social change.”

Veteran foreign correspondent Rivera, a member of the original cast of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” will need no introduction to any U.S. delegates attending the annual gathering of the British TV biz, which runs Aug. 23-25, but he is less well known in the U.K.

Festival advisory chair Charles Brand said: “Geraldo Rivera’s highly successful but equally controversial approach to TV journalism has divided the U.S. Is he a pointer to the future for the U.K., or the establishment’s worst nightmare?”

Rivera joins other keynote speakers, Channel 4 chief exec Mark Thompson, this year’s MacTaggart lecturer, and Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff, presenter of the Worldview Address.

As the fest’s full line-up was announced Tuesday, it became clear that this year’s Edinburgh contains an unusually high degree of contributions from U.S. talent from both sides of the screen.

Disney Channel Worldwide president Anne Sweeney is a keynote speaker; the creator of cult hit “24,” Joel Surnow, will be interviewed; new BBC TV director of programs Jana Bennett, previously executive VP and general manager of Discovery Communications, will talk about her U.S. experience, while a session entitled “British Drama – A Good Story?” aims to ask why American TV, particularly HBO, now appears to be making all the running in small screen fiction.