RTS Cambridge Convention 2021

CEO of Virgin Media O2 Lutz Schüler: Connectivity is king

Speaking 100 days after Virgin and O2 merged, the new group’s CEO, Lutz Schüler, said all the talk over the past few years may have been about content being king but, post-pandemic, it is time to crown connectivity, too.

“Connectivity was always important but I think we lost a bit of our importance because everybody was talk-ing more about the content or the value on top of our networks. I think now, after the pandemic, we have a second chance in life and we want to grab that,” said the German veteran who helms Telefónica and Liberty Global’s cable and mobile joint-venture.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie looks back on his first year in the post

If the surprise appointment of the new culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, an outspoken critic of the BBC, had ruined Tim Davie’s day, he wasn’t letting on during what was his first RTS Cambridge appearance since succeeding Tony Hall as Director-General a year previously.

Throughout a 30-minute grilling by ITN’s newish CEO, Deborah Turness, the former head of BBC Studios presen­ted a glass-half-full view of life running an institution that often appears embattled as it is attacked by the Daily Mail or Westminster.

The meaning of Britishness

Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Screenwriter and children’s author

“I [only] think a lot about Britishness when I’m working as a screenwriter.

“Film has to work globally. When you are working for a studio, you run across a set of values that are supposed to be universal, but which Britain is often to one side of – in a good way, a way that I like.

“The film philosophy is about affirmation, simplicity, hugging, learning, about a journey.

Twenty per cent: TV's need to improve representation and inclusion of disabled people

Screenwriter Jack Thorne’s deeply affecting MacTaggart lecture in August left the UK TV industry painfully aware of its failings over the employment and representation of disabled people. The RTS Cambridge session “Twenty per cent” – the proportion of the UK population who are disabled – was therefore particularly timely.

Ofcom CEO Melanie Dawes on the licence fee, privatising Channel 4 and Piers Morgan

At a time when many observers fear decisions on broadcasting matters, from the size (or existence) of the BBC licence fee to the possible priva­tisation of Channel 4, will be politically motivated, Ofcom Chief Executive Melanie Dawes was keen to stress her organisation’s independence – regardless of who is finally appointed Chair of the regulator or who had just been made culture secretary.

ITV's CEO Carolyn McCall on the channel's digital transition

For ITV, the pandemic forced the company to do some hard thinking. Advertising revenue fell off a cliff in the second quarter of 2020, programme ­budgets were slashed, and senior executives took voluntary pay cuts.

“Commercially, we were very worried about our cash situation in the first three or four months of the pandemic,” CEO Carolyn McCall told her interviewer, BBC News’s Dharshini David. “We took some dramatically difficult decisions in the first three weeks of the pandemic because we had to preserve our cash.”

YouTube's CBO Robert Kyncl on the platform's rewards, freedom and censorship

Only a few days before Robert Kyncl sat down for his international keynote session at this year’s RTS Convention, he was on the red carpet in New York for that most exclusive of affairs, the annual Met Gala, presided over militarily by Anna Wintour.

It is testament to the cultural significance of YouTube’s chief business officer that the Vogue supremo invited Kyncl to fill a whole table at the Gala with his own guests, mostly super-­successful content creators on YouTube.