In a year of gloom and doom, Broadcast showcases the handful of media players who have successfully swum against the tide and had a bumper 2001.
TONY BALLWhile it's been a pretty hairy year for most commercial broadcasters, BSkyB has certainly bucked the trend - thanks to a business model based on subscriptions, not advertising. Clever, eh! The small matter that the broadcaster's share price has halved this year hasn't stopped Sky's straight-talking chief executive Tony Ball picking up around£8m in pay and bonuses - thanks to steady increases in subscriber numbers and revenues per user.

But, best of all, the hard-working Ball managed to find time to take a few side swipes at his beleaguered rival ITV Digital, which rebranded in the summer with a knitted simian appearing as its new mascot. Ball sent a crate of bananas to ITV Digital to celebrate the happy event. Could he have been suggesting ITV Digital is a platform run by monkeys? Surely not.

GAVYN DAVIESIt seemed only fitting that Gavyn Davies - Labour Party stalwart and good chum of chancellor Gordon Brown - should scoop the job of BBC chairman after Sir Christopher 'two-jobs' Bland departed to BT. After all, 'twas Davies who recommended that the government should hand Auntie the hefty licence fee hike which kicked in last year and underlies all the corporation's current success. But swapping a Tory supporter for a well-known Labour supporter to regulate another well-known Labour supporter - Greg Dyke - kicked up a predictable stink in the press.

So it was no surprise then that former Tory chief whip Lord Ryder of Wensum was shooed in as vice-chairman.

BBC 1BBC 1 finally hit the jackpot this year when it overtook ITV 1 to become the nation's most popular television channel. Controller Lorraine Heggessey displayed her uncanny instinct for being at the right place at right time, pitching up at the channel just in time to take all the credit. BBC 1's new-found resurgence is down to a combination of factors: director general Greg Dyke's emphasis on the importance of the channel, Heggessey's competitiveness urged on by a departing Mark Thompson; a bunch of quality hits (The Blue Planet, Walking with Dinosaurs, extra EastEnders and a strong daytime schedule). Oh yes, and it's also got oodles of cash.

MICHAEL JACKSONIn the entertainment business, timing is everything, and nowhere was this more clearly illustrated this year than in the departure of Channel 4 chief executive Michael Jackson to US broadcaster USA Networks. Almost on cue with his resignation ad revenues began to plummet, with his bouncing baby 4 Ventures bearing the brunt of the cutbacks. Critics claim Jacko went on a spending binge at C4 with loss-making launches Film Four and E4; something that incoming C4 chief Mark Thompson will have to sort out on arrival. Jackson-baiters sharpened their knives when they heard that his new job at USA Networks was uncertain following the company's sale to Vivendi. But as usual Jackson has come up smelling of roses.

CHANNEL 5It's been a good year for Channel 5. After seeing the back of David Elstein at the end of last year, it completed a successful smash-and-grab raid on C4. It poached a new director of programmes in the shape of Kevin Lygo, who came complete with a list of all C4's scheduling secrets, not to mention half of its entertainment department. Lygo is now embarking on what he enigmatically describes as C5's 'second phase'. This boils down to an admission that C5 was piss-poor and will only get better now it's run by him, with a little help from Home and Away. Expect to see audience share nudging over 6 per cent in 2002 and hopefully very little of Keith Chegwin's jiggly bits.

NEWS CHANNELSIt's a sour thing to profit from misfortune. That's probably why most news providers waited until at least a few days for the dust to settle on 11 September before crowing about how well they coped with the disaster. They stared at their shoes while telling us how the viewing figures had shot up and only provided their finely detailed information on audience share after we asked for it - honest. The huge response was taken as a vindication of rolling news strategies. Most viewers would take a rather different view: that it was the only time the channels produced anything worth watching. It'll take more than a major international incident to save ITN's News Channel, though - divine intervention maybe?TV BITCHESITV's rebirth of the talent show in the shape of Popstars, Soapstars and Pop Idol has turned what the BBC kicked off with Weakest Link's Anne Robinson into a whole new breed of devil spawn. Now British TV boasts a healthy number of cantankerous miseryguts to celebrate. Their arrival was a boon to the hordes of spent national newspaper hacks who quickly garnered monickers such as 'Nasty' Nigel, 'Evil' Yvon and Cowell the ****.

As they delivered their soundbite-friendly character assassinations from behind a collapsible table in a Travelodge, you could watch the fragile dreams of hapless kids collapse quicker than Charles Allen's investment portfolio. With Pop Idol continuing into the New Year the cult of the professional mud-slinger throws up a serious question: just how long can Pete Waterman suck in that paunch?INTERACTIVE TELEVISIONYou are no doubt sick of hearing that 2001 was the year interactive television came of age. Big Brother broke all the records with 15 million interactive votes by phone and iTV, while the BBC's Wimbledon coverage didn't do badly either apparently. Lots of excited new media boffins rushed around telling us that the UK leads the world in iTV. Huzzah! What the headlines didn't quite have room for is the fact that only a few programmes will have the resources to run decent iTV enhancements - typically shows like Wimbledon which already have the cameras in place. Oh, and so far very few people have managed to make any money out of it.

THE BLUE PLANETThis watery feast from the BBC's Natural History Unit (NHU) hit the spot with the perfect distraction from 11 September gloom.

No doubt bearing in mind that old dinosaurs equal ratings, the NHU dusted down Sir David Attenborough once again and plunged him into the world's oceans for the BBC's bluest blue-chip adventure yet. The show scooped an audience of more than 9 million for some episodes as viewers sought solace from the World Trade Centre horrors with soothing pictures of beautiful sea creatures being ripped to pieces by other beautiful sea creatures.

Ah, lovely.

STATIC 2358Interactive producer Static 2358 must be one of the few new media firms able to look its shareholders squarely in the eye and say business is good. While all around them iTV ventures floundered, Static founders Jasper Smith and Mark Rock came up trumps when they sold their baby to US technology giant Open TV for£42m in June. The interactive specialist has followed up the launch of its hit games channel PlayJam with the slightly more confusing proposition Yo-Yo. Wags suggest that it might be more appropriate as a description of the share price of Open TV's parent company MIH Holdings this year.

LIZ MURDOCHIt's been a big year for Elisabeth Murdoch, who made a fresh start after quitting her job as Sky general manager last year. Now she's running her own indie, Shine Entertainment, which she set up in March - albeit with a little help from her pa. She has also roped in a veritable A-Z of media talent, from former BBC head of documentaries Paul Hamann to His Lordship Waheed Alli. One Sky commission What U Want for Xmas aims to part viewers from their cash by suggesting interactive purchases - only on Sky's shopping platform of course. It's difficult to see how she can fail with a leg-up of a£10m two-year sweetheart deal from daddy's Sky.

TEXT MESSAGINGWhile many a new media wheeze has fallen flat on its arse this year, everyone's favourite application, text messaging, has gone from strength to strength. Britons send a staggering 36 million messages a day, pushing SMS through the 1 billion-a-month barrier in the autumn - but strangely most broadcasters seem incapable of making any money out of text. So far they have been thwarted by the mobile networks' mutual loathing, inability to cooperate and general reluctance to hand over any cash. But, as ever, the phone operators' primary motivation is greed; they are expected to club together to allow broadcasters to make better use of text messaging early in 2002.

Don't hold your breath for 3G though.

BBC RADIO 2When Radio 2 controller Jim Moir tucks into his Christmas pud this year he can reflect happily on a bumper year. His station swiped no fewer than five Sony Awards and the mantle 'most listened-to radio station' from younger sibling Radio 1 with a mix of old faves such as Jimmy Young and young tyros like, er, Jonathan Ross. After years of nobody listening to it (or nobody admitting to listening to it), R2 has transformed itself from has-been to quite good. What's more, it was a good year for radio in general as total radio listening reached a record high - making it more popular even than TV. Now all the industry needs is a few more people to actually go out and buy a digital radio set.

CELEBRITY CHEFSIf 2000 was Jamie and Nigella's year of on-screen fame, 2001 was the year they stepped out of the kitchen and into the boardroom. Nigella Lawson binned her presenter-only persona to set up Pabulum Productions (Pabulum = mental nourishment, geddit) with ambitions to move into drama and documentary, putting her MYC production venture with late husband John Diamond on the back burner. In April Pearson TV took a stake in Jamie Oliver's new indie Fresh Productions. Oliver aims to develop pukka 'original, cutting-edge' cookery - presumably all that Naked Chef stuff for BBC 2 was boring and crap, then. We await the proof of the pudding with bated breath. (That's enough food puns, Ed.)AND THIS YEAR'S LOSERS ARE ...

In a year of disasters things have got to go quite badly wrong to make it onto this list. First off, our hearts really go out to all those TV executives whose share portfolios and company valuations have suffered from the economic downturn - Chrysalis boss Chris Wright, GWR's Ralph Bernard, Carlton's Michael Green and Wireless Group's Kelvin MacKenzie among them. Drastic economy measures are called for - perhaps just two weeks in Barbados this winter.

Poor old ITV - everything it has tried this year seems to have gone pear-shaped: The Premiership failed in its daring 19.00 slot, Home and Away was lost to Channel 5 and This Morning has bombed since Twiggy et al took over from a C4-bound Richard and Judy. ITV lost its mantle as the most popular TV channel and, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, has gone off the boil. Bah!ITV juggernauts Carlton and Granada have also had a rocky ride. The effects of 11 September have been used as an excuse for a multitude of economic ills but the truth is that the advertising downturn has been looming all year. Not really the best time to be supporting the multi-million pound millstone that is ITV Digital, which many predict won't last the course of 2002.

On the other hand, the World Trade Centre bombing does seem to be to blame for the dip in the fortunes of exhibitions and programme markets - IBC and Mipcom suffered and Natpe is expected to be similarly quiet as the US TV industry stays grounded.

ITN got a rough deal when it renegotiated its ITV news contract - it had to shave£10m from its bid to fight off competition from Sky and will have to make ends meet with cuts and job losses.

The pipe dream of widely available broadband internet failed to materialise - again.

BT took more flak than an Afghan city as it was roundly blamed for slow roll-out and high tariffs. Happily, ex-BBC man Chrissie Bland is now at the helm to sort things out; he knows a thing or two about struggling against mountains of bureaucracy.

BBC golden boy Stuart Murphy's pristine reputation was tarnished slightly when the government turned its nose up at BBC 3's new kids offering, while ITV's kids plans didn't fare much better when it shelved the scheme for its own children's service. Not a great start for new children's controller Janie Grace, who seems to have been passed something of a poisoned chalice.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell also made a shaky start, bottling out of her first major TV industry date at Edinburgh and putting everybody's backs up when she condemned C4 and Brass Eye over the notorious paedophilia item. That was before questions at Cambridge.

2001 saw more than its fair share of demises of course... the RIP role of honour includes Carlton Food Network, Money Channel, Simply Money, Rapture, u>direct, Wellbeing and (.tv). The bell also tolled for C4's Big Breakfast. And last and by all means least, Fast Eddie Windsor got into hot water with the whole family when an Ardent Productions crew was spotted lurking around St Andrews, invading the privacy of his nephew William. His jaundiced career as a TV producer has finally and mercifully been brought to a halt. Merry Christmas everyone.