Virgin Media

'Calm, gentle and gracious': a profile of Liberty Global's CEO, Mike Fries

The last time that the CEO of Liberty Global, Mike Fries, spoke at the RTS Cambridge Convention, in 2013, he would have faced the long journey from his home in Denver, Colorado, the HQ of his long-time colleague and Chair of Liberty Global, John Malone.

But, this time, Cambridge is closer to home. After years of flying to Europe two or three times a month, Fries and his wife and daughters are now just down the road from the new Virgin Media O2 offices in Paddington, living in London’s leafy Holland Park.

Oscar winner honoured at RTS Republic of Ireland Awards

Belfast actor James Martin was awarded the Outstanding Newcomer prize at the RTS Republic of Ireland Awards (Gradaim RTS) in late March. Martin starred in the Oscar-winning short film An Irish Goodbye in which he played the bereaved brother Lorcan.

Gogglebox Ireland, shown on Virgin Media Television, was named the Factual Entertainment winner for the second year running.

The Drama prize went to another Virgin Media show (a co-commission with ITV), Redemption, a crime series set in Dublin starring Paula Malcomson.

Channel 4 makes subtitles available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media and Digital Platforms

The broadcaster will gradually increase the number of shows with subtitles, with The Great British Bake Off, The Last Leg and Gogglebox, as well as live television including Channel 4 News and F1 racing, being some of the first.

The announcement comes after the channels and on-demand services were affected on Saturday 25 September 2021, when the fire suppression system was triggered at Red Bee Media, the company that broadcasts them.

Refining Sky’s winning strategy

It is just over two years since Comcast bought Sky for a massive £30.6bn, but it is only now that the company has appointed one of its own senior executives to run the European pay-TV giant. Last month, the dynamic Dana Strong, head of Comcast Cable’s consumer services business, was announced as the successor to Jeremy Darroch, who led Sky for 13 years and was chief financial officer before that.

Bill Malone delivers Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture

Adrian Dunbar (Jim Hogan) & Carolina Main (Cat Hogan) in Blood (Credit: Channel 5)

Virgin Media Television’s director of programming said: “We’re constantly being told that linear TV is dead, but the facts actually present a different picture.”

In Ireland, Virgin Media is “bucking the trend and showing continual growth in audiences”, a result, he claimed, of a “notable step up in [the] scale, ambition and quality” of programming.

Virgin Media launches new 4K set-top box, tablet and apps

Credit: Virgin Media

In addition to an updated set-top box, Virgin is launching an on-demand viewing app, a kids app, a TellyTablet and a film rental platform.

The new 4k-ready V6 box is half the size of the former TiVo box, and is packed with new features. It allows viewers to record six programmes at once, while viewing a seventh.

Subscribers will also be able to access Netflix and YouTube through the new boxes.

The new set-top box is fully compatible with old TiVo boxes, so customers can upgrade to the new system while keeping their saved recordings and settings intact.

Tom Mockridge appointed Chair of the Royal Television Society

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.

TV's top business leaders weigh in on future challenges

From left: Tony Hall, Andrew Griffith, Lorraine Heggessey, David Abraham, Dido Harding and Tom Mockridge (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Among the subjects they covered were the UK’s inadequate digital infrastructure, Netflix, Brexit and, inevitably, The Great British Bake Off. 

Matt Hancock’s speech in the previous session found favour with the panel. BBC chief Tony Hall welcomed the emphasis the Minister of State for Digital and Culture had put on “social and regional” diversity in television.