The challenges of a shifting TV landscape will be discussed by television executives at this year's RTS Cambridge Convention, chaired by BBC Director-General Tony Hall.
Some BBC director-generals are a reaction to their predecessor. After the remorseless strategising of the John Birt years, Greg Dyke was chosen to bring the human touch to staff who felt unloved. When Dyke turned out to be a little too populist and freewheeling for some, the governors opted for a more cerebral traditionalist in the form of Mark Thompson.
Are we at peak unscripted content? Session chair Tim Davie noted that – while there was no short-age of good news for the genre (18 of the 20 top-performing original programmes on broadcast TV in the US that summer had been formatted entertainment) – there were worrying signs for the genre. The UK was still producing hit formats, but margins were declining and it was no longer the fastest growing market for original formats.
It is one year on from one of the biggest and most controversial shake-ups in BBC history – the £400m formation of BBC Studios. Now, the BBC is ruffling feathers again as it merges this recently created commercial production division with BBC Worldwide to create a single company with revenues of £1.4bn.
Join ESA astronaut Tim Peake as he reflects on his remarkable career and the future challenges of space exploration.
Tom is the CEO of Virgin Media and a member of the Executive Leadership Team of parent company Liberty Global, the world’s largest international TV and broadband company. Tom joined Liberty Global in June 2013 following the acquisition of Virgin Media. During the previous two decades he worked for News Corporation in a variety of senior roles across the world. He started his career as a newspaper journalist in his native New Zealand, then in Australia, before becoming an adviser and spokesperson for the Federal Treasurer, the Honourable Paul Keating.
Global hits, unscripted as well as scripted, are what a lot of people in television dream of. Platform proliferation ought to mean that there are more hits than ever before but, as the panellists in this session – “Go global or go home” – know to their cost, hits remain as elusive as unity in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
Three of the four panellists have deep, hands-on experience of selling drama – Tim Davie, CEO, BBC Worldwide and Director, Global; Michael Edelstein, President, NBCUniversal International Studios; and Jane Millichip, Managing Director, Sky Vision.
Josh Sapan was welcomed as “the real deal, one of the greats of American cable and the television industry” by his interviewer, Tim Davie. Not only that, the audience learned that Sapan was cut from a different cloth to most US TV executives because he understood British humour.
That’s germane because Sapan, President and CEO of AMC Networks, landed a 49.9% stake in BBC America (for $200m) in October 2014.
“We are cousins of the BBC, married into the family, a delight for me,” said the donnish-looking, New York-based cable veteran.