RTS Cambridge 2021

Gareth Southgate in conversation with Clare Balding

Gareth Southgate (Credit: Richard Kendal)

In recent years, few, if any, leaders in the UK have made such an impact as Gareth Southgate, the first manager of the England men’s football team to reach the final of an international competition since 1966. 

Introducing him at Cambridge, Clare Balding described Southgate as one of the great leaders, not just in sports but in any field, including business, politics and science: “He leads with dignity, empathy and with patience – qualities that aren’t often associated with men’s football.” The strength of applause that greeted his appearance on the Convention stage said it all. 

Kevin Mayer talks the future of DAZN and being the Netflix of sport

Kevin Mayer (Credit: Richard Kendal)

“I would love to see that on DAZN [in the UK],” revealed the Group Chairman, Kevin Mayer, one of the star speakers at the RTS Convention. 

“This is a huge market and [football] is an incredibly popular sport – it’s a high-quality experience for sports fans. Of course we’d want that.”

He added: “Football rights in major territories in Europe is [DAZN’s] centre of gravity.”

HBO's content chief Casey Bloys on preparing for the future with HBO Max

HBO Max, which launched in the US in May 2020, is set to roll out across Europe. The streaming service is scheduled to arrive in the Nordics and Spain this month, with other European countries to follow in the first quarter of 2022. But the UK is not included, because HBO content – including big-hitters such as Succession, Gangs of London and The White Lotus – is distributed exclusively via Sky until 2025. 

Channel 4's Alex Mahon talks privatisation, regional production & growing digital

Alex Mahon (Credit: Richard Kendal)

The decision on whether to privatise Channel 4 should be based on “data and evidence” and not, by implication, on ideology, Alex Mahon told the audience gathered in Cambridge. The broadcaster’s CEO was speaking shortly before Government minister John Whittingdale – a last-minute stand-in for his reshuffled colleague Oliver Dowden – was due to address the RTS Convention.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are championing gutsy women

Credit: Richard Kendal

In one of the most eagerly anticipated Cambridge sessions, Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, laid out the aims behind their new production company, Hidden Light.

The Clintons, who appeared at the Convention via video link from the US, also gave an insight into how being the subject of television for so long affects the way they make their own shows.

Production’s coming home: The challenges arising from TV's post-Covid boom

From left: Brandon Riegg, Ralph Lee, Lorraine Heggessey, Sanjay Singhal and Jane Turton (credit: Richard Kendal)

Demand was “greater than ever” but “there is a skills shortage”, costs were rising by at least 10% per year and there had been no increase in tariffs, was All3Media CEO Jane Turton’s sober assessment of the state of TV production in the UK. 

The big question for BBC Studios CEO of production Ralph Lee was whether the rising costs and wage bills were a long-term inflationary trend or a short-term effect of the pandemic and of “still [being] in the middle of trying to get the shows delivered”. 

Richard Sharp discusses the danger of disinformation in the media

Richard Sharp (Credit: Richard Kendal)

In an age driven by social media, where, “for most people, affirmation is more satisfying than information”, the BBC’s ability to provide free access to accurate, impartial news is essential to combating the harmful effects of fake news. 

That was the core of ex-Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp’s argument in favour of impartial public service news as he gave his first RTS speech as BBC Chair since being appointed in February. 

Sky's CEO Dana Strong: Partnerships and aggregation are key to retaining subscribers

Dana Strong (left) and Beth Rigby (credit: Richard Kendal)

After 30 years of investment as the centrepiece of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, it was no wonder there was a battle of suitably high drama when Sky Group went on sale in 2018 – nor that it went to Comcast for the tidy sum of $39bn (£28.5bn). 

Three years on, former Comcast executive Dana Strong is Sky’s new CEO, replacing Jeremy Darroch after his 13-year tenure. 

YouTube's Robert Kyncl: The Silicon Valley trailblazer

Robert Kyncl (credit: YouTube)

Los Angeles theatregoers may think they’re dream­ing when they turn up to a brand-new venue in Inglewood, in the heart of the city, and spot a familiar symbol on its façade – the bright red play sign of its owner, YouTube.  

Why would the world’s most-viewed website, and a celebrated pioneer in disruptive digital content, want to invest in something as old-school as a live theatre?