Advanced Television

Royal Television Society line-up for Cambridge Convention 2015

August 17, 2015

The Royal Television Society (RTS) has unveiled the line-up for the RTS Cambridge Convention 2015: Happy Valley or House of Cards? Television in 2020 – the challenges for content, creativity and business models. The biennial event, which takes place in Cambridge from 16-18 September, will see the industry’s most senior figures converge to discuss the future of TV content and business.

This year, the BBC is the Convention’s Principal Sponsor. It will be chaired by BBC Director-General Tony Hall. He says, “The 2015 Cambridge Convention will see producers, content creators and industry leaders explore how content creation and business models will need to adapt to the ever changing TV landscape. Using research, discussion and lively debate, we have designed a programme which will address the challenges being faced and look at how we can protect and grow the British TV industry.”

In the opening session, Happy Valley or House of Cards? Television in 2020, James Purnell, Director, Strategy and Digital at the BBC, will chair a scene-setter for the convention. Bringing together the latest data-driven insights, with a panel of experts including Emily Bell, Professor of Professional Practice and Director of Tow Center of Digital Journalism at Columbia University Journalism School; Susanna Dinnage, General Manager, Discovery Networks UK/Ireland; Stephen Lambert, Chief Executive, Studio Lambert and Stephen Nuttall, Senior Director, YouTube EMEA; the session will offer a wide-ranging and challenging debate on the future of the television industry. There will also be comments from the most insightful TV critics of the modern era – the cast of Channel 4’s GoggleBox – courtesy of Studio Lambert.

Philippe Dauman, President and CEO of Viacom, will then offer a global perspective in his International Keynote, chaired by Kamal Ahmed, Business Editor, BBC News. Dauman presides over one of the world’s premier entertainment brands, which connects around 700 million subscribers in 160 countries and territories through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms.

Following the BBC Worldwide Reception, which will feature remarks from Rona Fairhead, Chairman, BBC Trust, The Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, will set out the government’s view in the Secretary of State Keynote, chaired by Tony Hall.

As both consolidation and foreign ownership of the UK production sector accelerates, day two will open with a lively debate led by Lorraine Heggessey, Chair of the Grierson Trust and Advisor, Channel 4 Growth Fund. Entitled Working for the Yankee Dollar? Consolidation and Creativity, this session will see David Abraham, CEO, Channel 4; Wayne Garvie, CCO, Sony Pictures Television; Tim Hincks, President of Endemol Shine Group; and Nick Southgate discuss whether this process leads to new investment and a greater role in the global media market or growing homogenisation of programmes and a squeeze of creativity.

Delegates on Thursday will get a chance to hear from the men in charge at three international powerhouses. First up is Michael Lombardo, HBO’s President of Programming who will talk to Jay Hunt, Channel 4’s Chief Creative Officer. AMC Networks President and CEO, Josh Sapan will then chat with Tim Davie, Chief Executive, BBC Worldwide; and later in the day David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications will be in conversation with Sir Howard Stringer.

In the last session of the morning Jane Tranter will ask two of the industry’s leading writers – Hugo Blick, Writer, Director and Executive Producer, Eight Rooks and Bryan Elsley, Writer and Executive Producer, Balloon Entertainment – and two rising stars – Regina Moriarty, writer of the award-winning BBC Three drama Murdered By My Boyfriend and Tahsin Guner, co-developer and writer for BBC One’s Father Brown, their views on The Single Voice and the Show Runner. Is the UK’s renowned belief in the authored voice enough to enable us to lead or even survive in a US dominated international market? Do we need to acquire more expertise in Show Runner led environments or should we protect our best writers from the writers’ room? This session will also discuss how new writers get started and build a career in the industry.

In the afternoon, Patrick Younge, Partner & Co-Founder, Sugar Films, will be joined by Michael Edelstein, President, NBCUniversal International Studios; ITV Studios MD, Kevin Lygo; new Director of BBC Studios, Peter Salmon and All3Media MD, Jane Turton for Studios Uncovered. They will put the spotlight on different studio models of production and debate the pros and cons of each – including UK and US approaches, acquiring vs growing organically, producing for in and out of house clients and managing and incentivising the best creative people.


Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White will then deliver her keynote, chaired by Stewart Purvis CBE, Professor of Television Journalism at City University. The day closes with Tony Hall who will deliver the BBC Keynote, before being interviewed by The Guardian’s Head of Media, Jane Martinson.


How did broadcasters miss the story of Election 2015? And how could they do better in next year’s referendum? Martha Kearney, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The World At One talks to The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP and Sky News Political Editor Faisal Islam for The one that got away, the opening session of day three.


In The rise of the smartphone – creating compelling content for the mobile generation, BBC Click’s Spencer Kelly and Philip Harper, Creative Director at Atlantic Productions present and discuss the latest smartphone technology soon to change the TV industry – including 360˚ cameras and virtual reality headsets.


TV without borders: is the digital single market boom of bust for the UK?, explores a topic currently on everyone’s minds – the European Commission’s ambition to ensure European consumers can access content across borders. In this session chaired by Katya Adler, Europe Editor, BBC News; Jorgen Gren, European Commission Cabinet Member, digital single market and John McVay, Chief Executive of Pact, discuss whether these proposals will drive further economic growth in Europe’s audio-visual industries and benefit consumers or undermine the basis on which content is funded. Further speakers will be announced closer to the event.


Stuart Murphy, Director, Sky Entertainment Channels at BSkyB, Danielle Lux, MD of CPL Productions and Jonathan Shalit OBE, Chairman, ROAR Global will explore issues raised by current controversies surrounding talent, in Talent – can’t live with ‘em can’t live without ‘em. Jane Lush, MD, Kalooki Pictures, will ask, do they get paid too much? Do they have too much power? How has this situation arisen? And what, if anything, should we do about it?


At the end of three days of debate the final session, Looking Towards 2020will see senior industry leaders, including David Abraham, Adam Crozier, Tony Hall and Tom Mockridge take to the stage to consider what we have learned about the directions in which television is heading. Can we foresee a reasonably happy future ahead? Or will the cards come tumbling down?


In addition to the BBC, the RTS Cambridge Convention 2015 is also sponsored by Accenture, All3Media, BBC Worldwide, Fujitsu, ITN, and ITV. Sir Peter Bazalgette will be Wednesday evening’s after dinner speaker, while the speaker for Thursday night’s dinner will be announced closer to the time.


The RTS has collaborated with Accenture to develop a bespoke app for iOS and Android devices, allowing delegates to navigate information about each session, read speaker biographies, access social media links, download presentations, vote and comment during sessions, and find out more about getting to/from the Convention in Cambridge.


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