Too many sessions, too little time. But which events will be worth leaving the comfort of The George bar for? Broadcast assesses the pulling power and star quality of key speakers at this weekend's TV gabfest.

Sunday 29, 11.30-13.00; Pentland Auditorium, EICC, The Exchange, Morrison StSupported by: Richard Dunn's family and trusteesWelcomed by: Greg Dyke, BBC DG designateIntroduced by: Bob Phillis, chief executive Guardian Media GroupWho's being interviewed? The Observer's business editor Emily Bell will interview Charles Allen, chairman of Granada Media Group and chief executive of Granada Group, at this inaugural event commemorating the late Richard Dunn, formerly chief executive of Thames TV who died last AugustWhat will she ask? 'Searching' questions (according to the festival programme) about Allen's own and his company's strategies. And the audience gets to have a go tooA public mauling, then? Depends if anyone from Bruce Gyngell's Yorkshire TV or Forte gets inLast seen in: Rare interview in The Guardian three months ago in which Allen revealed his plan to split the TV business from the hotels to 'unlock' the value of the TV side of thingsDon't ask: Is there enough room for an audience with all these suits in the room?

Expect: Buzz-phrases like 'enlightened capitalism'. Also interesting dynamics between Allen and Dyke, who still hasn't forgiven Granada for taking over LWT.

WORLDVIEWWhen and where? Saturday 28, 14.30-15.30; Pentland Auditorium, EICC, The Exchange, Morrison StIntroduced by: Rupert Gavin, chief executive of BBC WorldwideWho's the big name this year? Caryn Mandabach, president of Carsey Werner of The Cosby Show, Roseanne and 3rd Rock From the Sun fame, sails to British shores to regale UK execs with tales of talent, tantrums and OxygenSorry - thin air? Oxygen is the new channel aimed at women that Carsey Werner is launching with Oprah Winfrey and former Nickelodeon and ABC chief Geraldine Laybourne in the US. Don't you know anything?

Tell me more: The trio plan to launch this service in February in a bid to explore issues from a woman's point of view, fusing TV and the internet. An original animated primetime series is the first thing to have been commissioned for the channel, from US producer Machi TantilloLast seen in: The production team for ITV's much-hyped but little watched seventies flop, Days Like TheseDon't ask: Why wasn't that funny?

Expect: Lots of references to convergence and niche TV. No references to Elisabeth MurdochMEDIA FUTURES: NOT THE 10 O'CLOCK NEWSWhen and where? Saturday 28, 16.00-17.30; Pentland Auditorium, EICC, The Exchange, Morrison StProduced by: Alan Clements, director, Wark Clements and Company; Graeme Bowman, development producer, Wark ClementsSurely some mistake - the title of the comedy classic clearly referred to ... Ah, but this isn't the same thing at all. Kirsty Wark (Newsnight presenter and director of Wark Clements alongside husband Alan) will grill ITV director of programmes David Liddiment, ITV director of planning and strategy David Bergg and ITN News editor Nigel Dacre on life after News at TenAnd how's it been so far? Not great. They started off well with some blockbuster Bond films that pulled in quite a few punters across the whole evening. But it's gone a bit pear-shaped since April with peaktime share down to 37.5 per cent in the second quarter, from 40.9 per cent in the first three months of the year. And filling that 10 o'clock slot is still a problemPreviously on ITV: There were the bongs at 22.00 and we all knew bedtime was only 40 minutes awayDon't ask: What time is the 11 o'clock news on tonight?

Expect: A staunch defence of the move that 'changed the face of our broadcasting landscape' and talk of an 'unprecedented turnaround'

THE MACTAGGARTWhen and where? Friday 27 August, 19.00-20.00; McEwan Hall, Teviot PlaceWhat's the big deal? Following in the footsteps of TV greats such as Ted Turner, David Elstein, Michael Grade, Dennis Potter, Greg Dyke and Janet Street-Porter, to name a few, Richard Eyre takes the podium to deliver the James MacTaggart Memorial LectureSo? Headlining for the first time at this particular talk-fest, the Oxford PPE graduate is in a position to give the industry the benefit of his media-wide experience (from ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty to Capital Radio and thence to ITV in a 22-year career)Last seen in: Pleas for the BBC to stick to its public service remit and measure its success in terms of reach instead of share (Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference, April 1999), and repeated reminders that ITV is meeting its 39 per cent peaktime share targetDon't ask: What's the difference between peaktime definitions of 19.00-22.30 and 18.00-22.30?

Expect: Passion. Eyre has hinted he will talk about things he cares about rather than doing an ITV policy turnAccountability. That's what this year's festival is all about, according to this year's advisory chair Lis Howell, who is also senior vice-president, Flextech channels.

'What I want more than anything else is a sense of access to the policy-makers,' she says. 'The whole idea of an elite in broadcasting has arisen because all questioning has disappeared with the rise of the all-powerful PR. People don't feel they can talk to those higher up any more. The festival can address this by getting the big names along and making them accountable.'

Howell insists, however, that this emphasis on the policy-makers will not detract from the issues around the business of programme-making. 'Of course, looking at the development of the programmes is fantastic and we need that element to be present,' she says. 'But it has to be put into the context of why the broadcaster has commissioned it and where that broadcaster is going. We are not trying to step away from programme-making. We have just tried to get a balance between programme-making and policy and to bring the policy-makers in to be questioned.'

Certainly, if Howell has achieved anything, it is to get the big names to attend the festival this year, so often a point of issue in the past.

'From the very first committee meeting, we were utterly clear that we wanted the names and would call in every favour to get them,' Howell explains.

She is delighted with the results, having persuaded heavy hitters like Channel 4 chief executive Michael Jackson and Granada Media Group chairman Charles Allen to take the floor.

But, she says, it will all be in vain if no-one takes advantage of their presence. 'These people are putting themselves up to be counted,' she says. 'If there is no accountability, it's the fault of the floor.'

For this reason, Howell has unofficially dubbed this year's event as 'one for the workers'. Where she agrees that the festival has always, implicitly, been aimed at the workers, she says she wanted to endorse this fact. 'You can say it's for the workers and then give them endless workshops. This is about really giving the workers access.'

Beyond this, Howell is reluctant to pinpoint any one issue that she thinks will dominate this year's event. The News at Ten session, featuring ITV director of programmes David Liddiment, could prove controversial, she suggests, and earmarks the session on the condition of the BBC as another that is also likely to prompt vigorous debate.

One session notable by its absence is the focus on regional broadcasting, an Edinburgh staple. Howell is clear that she did not want to do a session just for the sake of it. As the person who has produced the regional session for the last three years, she says it has usually meant looking for a story where there wasn't one.

If there is an issue concerning the regions, it should come up in the other sessions, she argues.

'The festival shouldn't do token sessions,' she insists. 'It is there to do real sessions. If it does real sessions and gets the issues right, everything else that matters will be mopped up around them.'

Lis Howell was interviewed by Alice MacandrewTHE FUTURE OF 4When and where? Saturday 28, 11.30- 13.00; Pentland Auditorium, Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), The Exchange, Morrison StProduced by: Danny Fenton, director of programmes at Transmedia Productions Chaired by: Kamal Ahmed, media editor, The GuardianSo what is Channel 4's future? What the Yanks call a no-brainer. C4 chief executive Michael Jackson stakes his credibility and reputation on his plans for the channel. Jacko will be in the dock, the firing line, on trial ...

OK, gotcha. But, surely Jacko should be sitting in on the controllers' One to One strand with, er, the other controllers?

Nah. He wants to be ahead of the mainstream, remember? He'll give us the inside track on where it's all going for C4, without the backchat from his contemporaries. By literally distancing himself from the other broadcasters, he'll be able to sound even fresher and more original in their absenceBut will an hour-and-a-half be long enough? Or might it be too long?

Last seen: Confusing the hell out of Media Secretary Chris Smith (see Smith's interview with Broadcast, 23.7.99)Don't ask: What does 'ahead of the mainstream' actually mean?

Expect: The suggestion that 'society has changed and C4 has to change with it'. A roasting from Johanna Dyer, chair Pact, nations & regions committee, asking the questionsCLOSE UP: DRAMATIC SEXWhen and where? Sunday 29, 14.30-16.00; Conference Centre, Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen StChaired by: Jaci Stephen, columnist, Daily MailNot more sex? Yup - Russell T Davies (writer of Queer as Folk), Nick Elliott (ITV controller of network drama), Barbara McKissack (BBC Scotland head of drama), Nicola Schindler (exec producer, Red Productions which made Queer as ...) and Terry Watkins (principal, Terry Watkins Research) consider whether sex dominates TV drama todayDo they need so many of them to ask such an obvious question? The organisers seem to think so. And they will be unveiling exclusive audience research as well as indulging delegates with a case study on Queer as FolkLast seen in: Just about every regulator's report published this year and on a screen near you NOW in explicit detailDon't ask: Are you practising safe sex?

Expect: Naked buttocks and tired argumentsCLOSE UP: LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!When and where? Monday 30, 9.30-11.00; Conference Centre, Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen StProduced by: Franklin Getchell, GetchellIntellectual, and Lisa Opie, director of programming, Flextech ChannelsResearched by: Sue McGregor, festival researcherIt's on a bit early. Is it worth getting up for? Depends if you're still worried about being duped by people desperate for 10 minutes of TV fame.

A commissioner, a producer, a director and a regulator will attempt to suss out who the fake guest is from a panel of wannabe stars, one of whom is an actor Who will they have to dupe? The panellists are independent producer Marie Devine, 15 Minutes director Kizzi Nkwocha, ITC senior programmes officer Steve Perkins and Meridian director of programmes Richard Simmons.

Jerry Springer-like scuffles will be contained by their chair, presenter Claudia WinklemanDon't ask: Aren't we all trying to be something we're not, in this post-modern world?

Expect: Confirmation that procedures have been tightened so chat show hosts like Vanessa Feltz can rest easy in their dressing rooms DAZED AND CONFUSEDWhen and where? Monday 30, 9.30-11.00; Pentland Auditorium, EICCProduced by: Jonathan Webb, director of brand development, Flextech TV and Amelia Johnson, head of children's programmes, Action TimeI'm already confused: Despite the millions of pounds being spent to promote digital TV, more people than ever before are saying they don't intend to make the switch. This session gives the pick of the industry's digital experts 90 minutes to persuade a group of confused consumers that digital is the way to go. Watchdog's vertically challenged Alice Beer hosts the sales extravaganzaLast seen in: Beer can be a little difficult to spot given her petite stature - even those cunning cameramen at the BBC had difficulty picking her out on the recent Families at War setDon't ask: What happened to Ian West? (The former managing director, Sky Entertainment, has been pulled from the panel at the eleventh hour following his sudden departure from BSkyB last week)Expect: Endless repetition of the 'free boxes' mantra.