EXCLUSIVE: “The UK’s role in the media multiverse” will take up plenty of airtime at the RTS Cambridge Convention, according to Theresa Wise, as the great-and-the-good of the TV industry prepare to gather for the biannual get-together.
Wise, the RTS CEO for a decade, pointed to huge international players set to keynote the two-day event including CAA Chairman Bryan Lourd and Liberty Global MD Mike Fries. With the industry experiencing tough times as the economic crisis, ad recession and U.S. strikes combine to slow production to a stutter, the UK’s “role in the media multiverse” will be up for discussion, according to Wise, who said speakers will likely tackle the American labor action and its impact on the UK head on.
Lourd will be speaking just a few weeks after French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault agreed to buy a majority stake in CAA. Wise said the CAA Chair won’t be afraid to tackle big topics such as the strikes. “I would be amazed if they are not discussed and Bryan will speak to some of these,” she added.
This year’s convention features big hitters such as James Corden speaking for the first time post-Late Late Show, Piers Morgan and the heads of the major broadcasters, the latter of whom “generally acknowledge this is not the easiest year [for broadcasting],” said Wise.
She stressed that the Convention has previously had splashy international names such as Ari Emanuel and Reed Hastings but acknowledged that there are some big draws for 2023.
“Industry convening power”
Wise credited Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon, this year’s Convention Chair, for bringing the spark.
“The essence of a great RTS Convention is that it is chaired by someone senior from the industry,” she added. “This brings to bare the convening power of the industry. Given how many people move jobs or develop in their careers, they know they need each other so there is a great favor bank across the industry.”
Mahon was instrumental in carving out this year’s formal theme, which is Too Much to Watch.
The theme seems somewhat ironic given the U.S. strikes and commissioning slowdown but Wise said it speaks to a “slightly battered and beleaguered consumer with an awful lot of choice, coping with lots of ways to navigate and find these shows.” Wise spoke to Deadline in the days prior to the broadcasters unveiling a joint free broadband TV service.
“That central theme works quite nicely and then raises questions to the industry around how you reach different demographics, how you launch new things and, if you’re an advertiser, how you best engage consumers,” said Wise.
Some of the RTS speakers come from the world of TV news and Wise said it was integral to book voices from across the political spectrum such as Talk TV firebrand Morgan and GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos.
“I’m thrilled that we have these sessions,” added Wise.
“There is an increasing debate about what place opinion has in news so given we have news channels who feel they are underexplored it will be exciting to hear them speak to these themes. We’re clearly in a different place from the States on what we are and aren’t allowed to do [on news channels] so the section will think about impartiality in the round.”
RTS Cambridge runs September 20 to 21.