RTS Cambridge Convention 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Disabled people make up 20% of the population in the UK and yet are still the most underrepresented in our industry. In this session, Sinéad Burke, Alicia Dalrymple, David Proud and Briony May Williams discuss the progress made in representation of disabled people in the industry so far, the shifts needed to increase representation and discuss how inclusion should be normalised in the industry.
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.
Following the England team's success at the European Championships, Gareth Southgate, in conversation with Clare Balding, reflects on the power of football to unite a nation, to promote inclusion and be a force for redefinition of nationhood.