VLV Autumn Conference – November 20th 2019

Sir David Clementi, the Chairman of the BBC, and Dame Carolyn McCall, the Chief Executive of ITV, were the keynote speakers at VLV’s Autumn Conference on Wednesday 20th November. 

They were joined by Lord Gilbert, Chairman of the House of Lord’s Communications and Digital Committee, and by broadcaster John Humphrys.

The first session of the day featured Dame Carolyn McCall DBE in conversation with media commentator Torin Douglas MBE. Dame Carolyn highlighted that regulation needs to be changed in order to support public service broadcasters if they are to be able to effectively compete with the global streaming video companies and said that while the launch of Britbox, the new UK PSB video streaming platform, has gone well, ITV cannot compete with the global giants if current regulatory restrictions are maintained. 

Sir David Clementi spoke in the second morning session, also focused on regulation. This session was chaired by media journalist Raymond Snoddy OBE. Sir David’s full speech can be read here.




In the first session of the afternoon broadcaster John Humphrys was in conversation with VLV Chairman, Colin Browne. John reflected, often with great humour, on his long career in broadcasting in which his tenacious interviewing style attracted much admiration and some controversy. John, who joined the BBC in 1966, recently stepped down as a presenter on Radio 4’s Today programme after 32 years.  

The final session of the day focused on how people find and watch TV content.  Professor Matt Hills, Professor of Journalism and Media, University of Huddersfield presented key findings from his recent research into how people search for and find TV content. Conclusions of the research are that people tend to cherry pick content and there is less brand loyalty than might be expected and that while some are very digitally able to search for content, others are still reliant on the electronic programming guide and their traditional channel choices.  

Professor HIlls was joined by Lord Gilbert of Panteg, Chairman of the Lords Communications and Digital Select Committee, which has recently published a report into public service broadcasting, and Sophie Jones, Head of Corporate Relations, Channel 4. Lord Gilbert said that Ofcom needs to take action to ensure prominence for the public service broadcasters sooner rather than later and he reiterated that Parliament must have a role in holding regulators to account.  Sophie Jones highlighted that Channel 4 is working constantly to devise new ways to reach and engage with younger audiences, key to their future success, and stressed that being universally available free to watch is still crucial for the public service broadcasters.