tv The Media Show BBC News November 21, 2021 3:30pm-4:01pm GMT
compared to 2020. and the taxi driver from the liverpool terror attack has released a statement saying it's a miracle he's alive, and thanking the public for their amazing generosity. now on bbc news, it's time for the media show. hello. last week's attack in liverpool leads our conversation today. how do you report responsibly on an incident like that? when is the right moment to use the word "terrorism"? and is the doorstep morally wrong? also on the media show — a new streaming service launched on sky this week. can the traditional tv stations claw back an audience from netflix and disney? let's start by introducing today's guests. simon walker is chief executive at marquee tv. and simon, for listeners who don't
know, what exactly is marquee tv? thank you, katie, good to be here. marquee tv is netflix for the performing arts — but, as i think we'll discuss, that shorthand doesn't work any more when netflix has eaten the world. so i like to think of us as the ultimate arts companion in this niche of lovers of performing arts and culture. thanks, we'll talk about that later. julia alexander, you are a senior strategy analyst at parrot analytics, welcome. and i believe you also co—host the podcast downstream — what sort of things do you cover in that? absolutely, i look at the shifting trends and shifting strategic moves in hollywood as they prepare for tomorrow and move away from the past. wow, love the sound of that. we will also talk to you both later, but also here is kamal ahmed, editor in chief of the news movement, a news venture. until earlier this year, kamal was the bbc�*s editorial director — and before his bbc days, he was at the sunday
telegraph and the observer. we'll get into more detail later on, butjust give us a quick overview of what the news movement is — good name! yes, hello, thanks for the - invitation to join the media show. probably all of us in the industry - know there's something of an issue — how do we solve the under—supply i of trusted news and informationl on social media platforms? many of us will need to work i together to solve that problem, and the news movement is our attempt to do so _ four days old, it's - like having a newborn — every external meeting i do, i rush back to make sure - we're still breathing. but four days in, we're still going strong. - and its aimed at young people, is it? that's the first demographic. we are aiming at, but we know there's been a massive audience shift and the age demographic. of that shift is going up. so at the moment, younger people get their main news| and information from social media, but that demographic _ is growing constantly. so we are starting young, - but we want to develop the age demographics we're looking at.
thanks, kamal. and my other guest, maria breslin, is editor of the liverpool echo. maria, we should start with you obviously because the story that's been across every front page this week is the taxi explosion outside the liverpool hospital on sunday afternoon, which has been reported as a terrorist attack. so let's start with the practicalities — how quickly were you, at the liverpool echo, able to get reporters on the ground that day? hi, katie, thanks for inviting me along. thanks for coming on. i first learned about the explosion after logging on around ”am sunday morning, and i quite quickly had an e—mail from a reader who had a picture of what he called "a car on fire". we quite quickly got to the hospital — and it emerged straightaway that this was much more than a car on fire. so we were pretty much on the scene,
i would say, by 11.30am. did it make a difference that it was sunday? was that a harder day to get — did you have reporters around already? absolutely, we started the day with a content editor, a reporter, and a photographer working, just the three of them. and we ended up with about 15—20 people and lots of volunteers. lots of phone—bashing? and lots of offers of help from across the wider—reach family, as well. we knew quite quickly it was something exceptional and severe. and how did you decide what to put on your front page for the monday morning? i think if we've learned one thing from lockdown and the pandemic, it's the importance of being a trusted news source. i think, as touched upon before, the internet�*s a noisy place, social media is even noisier. and it's important that we cut through that noise. so right at the beginning of the day
when we started our live coverage, we discussed our tactics and approach. we were only dealing in facts and reporting what we knew. we were only reporting information from on—the—record authorities or from sources that we 100% trusted. so we were never going down the speculative route because we knew it was too important. and also, you know, our brand credibility means an awful lot to us. the biggest discussion we had around monday's front page was whether to use the word "terror"... because it's obviously a massive difference between calling it terrorism and not, and it has huge implications. absolutely, and we used the word "terror probe" — we didn't do it lightly, at that point, we'd had a press conference from the chief constable when they confirmed that indeed, it was treated as a potential terror attack. so we didn't do it lightly,
and it was certainly in context of what was happening at that point. but any language we've used throughout our coverage has always been language used by the authorities, we've not jumped to conclusions. sorry to interrupt, maria, kamal ahmed, obviously these are conversations you've had in the past in your previous job at the bbc. does that resonate with you, those decisions you have to take? absolutely, kate. i remember the horrific attacks in christchurch, new zealand. i remember when i was head of news at the observer when the 7/7 attacks happened in 2005, the london bombings. and maria absolutely nails it — you have to take care. but it is a time, as well, katie, when there's so much brilliant journalism that's done that people need to have things explained. i think you're absolutely right, maria, this notion of the trusted source is really important. people come to the journalism they trust, and particularly
the power of regional and local journalism shows its real brilliance through events like this. but it is important to tread carefully — but at the same time, not to undermine the journalistic instinct to find out what has happened, to be able to explain to the public, particularly in liverpool, i'm sure, maria, who are scared. what does this mean, is there more, what's going to happen? let's think some more about some of the other ethical issues here. last week, a group called survivors against terror published a report criticising the media for intrusion, citing awful examples — like a teenager who learnt first from a journalist that her brother had been killed. and this week, the wife of the liverpool taxi driver has complained about press intrusion. kamal ahmed, what is doorstepping, and how fundamental is it in a story like this, do you think? well, doorstepping is the way that some journalism operates,
and often for very good reason. you're in that first information—gathering phase, and you are trying to understand the facts and gather as many facts as is possible — that means eyewitnesses, it means relatives. but, as the report that you've just outlined shows, you have to be cautious and careful, and judicious. and it's always those judgment calls. and all of us as journalists, who been in the front line and managing journalists, know you have to keep discussing how you approach people who are often grieving. and, as you say, katie, we may have found out things much more quickly than relatives — and as you made clear, sometimesjournalism missteps. but, as i say, it's important that journalism has its function of explaining to the public what has happened, finding out the truth about what has happened.
we are an essential part of democratic society, an important part of holding those in power to account and explaining to the public what's going on. and doorsteps, as they're called in the old language, are part of that. but again, they need to be carefully used. maria breslin, you are editor now, but you started as a reporter — i'm sure you've done dozens of door knocks, is there a technique? i would agree that the bar has certainly moved. doorstepping was something i did on probably a daily basis when i was a reporter. and now, we are much more cautious. did you ever do it with trepidation back then? i always did it with trepidation. i don't think it's normal to love a doorstep in circumstances that often involve tragedies. so it was always with trepidation and the greatest respect. how do you do it in those circumstances? i think it's just respectful, you know, some people
find speaking cathartic. the idea that doorstepping is, you know, out of bounds is not something i personally agree with. people do sometimes want to talk, and it's part of the process. so it's always with respect, it's always taking "no" for an answer, it's not returning once you've been turned away, and it's offering to help — and sometimes what we can offer does help people who are in a difficult situation, i would say. and your paper, the liverpool echo, is carrying interviews with people who knew the suspect and the taxi driver, who had such a lucky escape — did you get those by doorstepping? we didn't. in fact, we erred on the side of caution all the time, in fact, we did not name the taxi driver until we were confident through a third party that his family were happy us to do so. we didn't doorstep the taxi driver. there are other people whom we turned up at their address, and they put a message in the window
saying they didn't want to speak to journalists, so we didn't knock. obviously, you know, gathering information in the wake of events such as this is important, it's an important part of this sort of public interest role that we serve, really. really interesting stuff, kamal ahmed, these are the sorts of things you'll now be overseeing, these sorts of decisions for the news movement, your news venture. i know you're still in your very early, soft launch phase, but what kinds of stories have you covered so far? have you covered any stories so far? yes, we did azeem rafiq yesterday — it was a vitally important story for many, many young people. as you say, our first demographic is young people, we are all about young news for young people by young people. i'm not supposing, katie, that an old person in their 50s, as i am, should be making decisions about what young people should see. but we are talking to our young
team here, i'm speaking to you from the itn offices in central london. itn is our incubation partner here in london, we have associated press in new york. but it's talking to that young team here, it's listening to the socials conversation, and it's making decisions there. and yesterday, as soon as we heard the incredible testimony of mr rafiq, we knew that was something that was trending amongst our demographic, and we did that story. i guess the key question is, are the people that you are aiming at prepared to pay for this kind of news? that's the key question for you, what do you think the answer is? yes, there's evidence that micro—payments and subscriptions of different types work for all sorts of different demographics. there's also, of course, at scale, which is where we want to be, an appetising model, as well. social media platforms are now much
more engaged in supporting the monetisation of good, factual, engaging, unbiased news and information on social media sites, they've done lots and lots of deals. so there are monetisation models now to enable us to solve this really key problem of this under—supply of trusted news and information on social media and other digital platforms. we are starting on a journey here. 0k, well, look, we talked earlier about some of the difficult editorial policy—making decisions around a bomb attack. let's talk with you about other thorny decisions being made — the bbc has just pulled out of stonewall�*s diversity champions programme, the scheme where the charity gives advice on inclusive workspaces. is your new organisation signed up? no, we've not had that conversation. we are very small and just starting. i think your approach to these things is to listen to all relevant points of view respectfully.
i did a session this morning at a thing called out of the box, which is the freeview event this morning, and we talked about these divisive — or issues that can appear divisive, and how do you deal with them? i think the approach is to listen respectfully to all points of view, reflect on what your audience thinks, and to carry on in that manner. we are nowhere near the scale and size, though, where we would be in those types of conversations. and the bbc obviously was in those types of conversations, you were editorial director until this february — were you part of the decision to sign up to the programme, for the bbc? no, i was not. i'm sure many people listening will be aware, bbc�*s nolan investigates podcast raised questions about whether being part of the scheme damaged the bbc�*s impartiality. what do you make of the bbc pulling out? we always had a very good conversations with lots and lots of different groups, and it's absolutely what the bbc should do. it wouldn't be right for me to comment on what's happened at the bbc since i've left —
they've made their decision, they should discuss that in the way that they want to. but from my memory — well, not my memory, from my knowledge of how we discussed these things at the bbc — there were lots and lots of different groups. we listened respectfully and tried to make — well, we did make decisions with the best of intentions, listening to all the relevant opinions. we've heard a lot about divisions in newsrooms on many issues, notjust trans rights, climate change activism, black lives matter, donald trump and his actions. fran unsworth, the outgoing bbc director of news, is reported to have told staff at a meeting last week, "you'll hear things you don't personally like and see things you don't like. that's what the bbc is, and you have to get used to that." kamal, you've got this very young team ofjournalists — how are you handling those sorts of divisions, if they exist? i don't see much evidence of the
actual divisions within newsrooms. journalists are inquisitive, curious people who want to tell the stories that affect their audiences from their audience's point of view. and that's really what we are all for. i remember my time as a journalist, that's what you tried to do — and this team here is what they want to do. and actually, what's been really amazing working with a very young team is that they want to all learn together. and this idea of peer—to—peer journalism — so friends finding out together rather than the professor of news tells the pupil, the audience — is really important. we've had some really good discussions about how we approach different issues. people have different opinions — but i think alljournalists understand, as was said, that there are different points of view. i'lljust interrupt because i want to put that point to maria breslin, editor of the liverpool echo — what about your newsroom? are you seeing divisions?
i wouldn't say there aren't divisions. people have different beliefs and opinions on things, you know, but we pull together and talk about them. we are a very, very tight—knit social group, and i think diversity and inclusion is incredibly important to us as a business — it's something we've got a long way to go, in terms of achieving what we need to achieve and want to achieve. but it is a important and everyone is on board with thatjourney. so of course, you know, people disagree, but generally it's important that we present a united front and speak as the echo brand, really. ok, thanks for that. it isn'tjust kamal who's launched a new venture — the streamers are at it, too. and julia alexander is here from parrot analytics — there's a new streaming service in the uk this week, and i can imagine listeners at home shouting, "what, another one?" so what is peacock, and what will it add to the mix, do you think?
peacock is nbc universal's big streaming play. - so, disney has disney+, - warner media has hbo max — peacock is nbc universal saying, - "hey, we've got pretty good content, too, we want to be in this." but the question posed to comcast, who owns a majority of sky- and owns nbc universal, - as we'll see this playing out this week and in the weeks to come, is whether or not there's much l appetite in the uk and across europe in the months to come _ as there is in the united states, to have a fractured streaming. service space where people - are subscribing to 7—9 streaming services and then saying, "wait, why am i notjustl using cable at this point?" the question that'll. happen with peacock, where people can watch the office and law & order, and the mindy. project, other nbc universal shows, some live sports and live news, - is whether or not there's an audience in the uk. and europe saying, "yeah, i want to sign up for this."| ok, so that's peacock — i think disney+ has also made a bunch of announcements in the last week.
is the headline here, that at least two of the big players, netflix and disney, are actually seeing a bit of a slow down, do you think, julia? definitely in the united states and canada, there is, - what we are seeing as questions of churn — how many— people are staying? but in europe, there - actually is a lot more room for there to be growth. the question again that is being asked, and this is why- we are seeing viacom, _ cbs, showtime and nbc universal, and peacock looking to say, "what if we tried to offer i upjoined—up offering?" while disney has its four franchise pillars with star wars, pixar, - and marvel, and while netflix- is netflix and has some of the best and most provocative, _ and also just the most quantitative original series, the others are trying to find a way i and find an audience base. so what we are seeing happen in the us and canada, - what we are seeing is a veryj oversaturated market where
penetration rights in households are a little bit higher. _ europe is still a bit— of a battleground to see if there's room to really compete — i or if it becomes a game of, "well, we can't compete i with netflix or whomever, so we're going to licence our content to them and make . our revenue that way." simon walker, you're in europe, in the uk. you're the chief executive of marquee tv. i guess you're at the high—culture end, you know, broadcasting the likes of opera and ballet — how do you fit into the market alongside the giants? thanks, katie. if you indulge me with some historical perspective, i'm old enough that i've seen the beginning and middle of the streaming wars — i was the bbc�*s first head of on—demand in 1997, would you believe, when there really wasn't any on—demand. at that point in time, netflix had just launched and did ten more years... i remember doing a piece on channel 4 news where the question was, "can netflix work" back
when it launched. i think i thought it would, but there were doubts. i hope you bought shares. sadly not. obviously they were another ten years, 2007, before they actually started to do on—demand. and there was a really interesting phase where the original broadcasters like the bbc were very advanced, actually, in this. but it does feel like the streaming wars — and, to make a silly analogy, if you think about the star wars trilogy, i think we're in the empire strikes back phase — because there was a long period of time where it was netflix and hulu, and the really innovative digital players who were innovating in the space. we're now in this phase where, you know, disney is predicted to overtake netflix in terms of subscriptions in the next five years. asjulie says, warner and comcast have come through — all the old media empire is striking back... i'm trying to work out which one's luke, and which one is princess leia, and i can't work it out.
well, i'm about to pitch myself... as princess leia ? ..to new streamers as the return of the jedi. there's going to be a third phase, is my view, and our view at marquee tv — basically the media's polarised, you'll have these big buckets of content for $10 a month, and whether you choose to get it from disney or netflix, or amazon, or peacock, or whoever — that general entertainment brand that sort of replicates the core of your cable — the middle ground is really challenged, and that's why we have this big debate in the country about channel 4. what's the point of channel 4? well, if you are in britain, there's a lot of point to it. if you're outside of the uk, it's irrelevant. and at the other end of the spectrum, the opportunity for entrepreneurs like me, is in the globalfashion niche — there's ballet on youtube, but they aren't building a brand for ballet. and i think that what's interesting about the next phase of growth here — julie's right, there's not room
for a million streaming services, and what people will do is choose their favourite brands, just like a regular newspaper as you used to back in the day, and if they've got a specialist interest like, you know, cars and angling, or whatever, that's the brand they'll go for. or, indeed, ballet? ithink i'm interested in, you know, you've benefited from lockdown, but now we can all go to theatres, opera houses, whatever floats our boat — how confident are you that people actually stick with you? it's a good question, and we've researched it — because i was anxious about that, too — and it turns out that 90% of people who have experienced the performing arts online want to continue doing that, even as the sector reopens. and actually, a really good example of that — what's been interesting in the lockdown, obviously our arts partners have suffered, it's been really hard for them, but what it has done is accelerated consumer behaviour. the audience is ready for content like this at home, they're used to it and ready to pay for it.
but also, the arts organisations themselves have got their heads around issues... they are production companies, rights, streaming, and all that was new to them, but they got their heads around it. so next week, with scottish ballet, we've commissioned a hollywood—quality film of a production of gene kelly's starstruck, which his widow's been involved in, it's an amazing, amazing production. it will have a proper premiere next week in london, a red carpet premiere. then it will appear on our services as a pay—per—view event, essentially. and then it'll be with the scottish ballet and us — we'll market internationally, they'll market it to their existing base. i think that's where this is going. love a bit of gene kelly. julia, what do you make of all this? i think simon hit - the nail on the head. there's this beautiful moment for niche programming - where the audience is so dedicated — so you don't have to worry _ as much about losing those customers, they're there. i
and also, because the overhead cost is so much lower than a general- entertainment streamer — - and to put that into perspective, i can't speak to simon's budget, - of course, but i imagine somewhere close to netflix spending. $18 billion a year on content in order to remain ahead of the pack _ so when we look at the different services being offered, - we got category, — your general entertainment streamers — the studios who are now . becoming streamers saying, "we want to own and - distribute our own content." you then have the amazon and apple l play, which is an ecosystem play. l they aren't selling you prime video or apple tv+, they're selling - you and apple one package and amazon prime _ and they're finding ways to ensure that you are l spending $10—14 a month. and at the other end, . you have both the niche categories and suppliers — - you have groups of executives saying, "we want to offer a very specific offering for people," - and it can be anything - like marquee, crunchyroll — which specifically focuses on anime — and you also have companies- like sony saying, "we don't. want to partake in this at all,
we would just rather- licence our content at almost quadruple what it's worth because it's a good - game to be a seller." people are buying so much content right now because they need to. i ok, well, the battle is on! i'm afraid you can't, because we're running out of time. all i can say is the battle is on, and i'm looking forward to return of thejedi — no doubt we will return to it on the media show soon. but i'm afraid we've run out of time, that's it for today. thanks to all my guests — simon walker, julia alexander, maria breslin, and kamal ahmed. the media show will be back at the same time next week. but for now, thanks for watching, and goodbye.
as the picture suggests, sunday has been a bright, fresh day across many parts of the british isles, certainly a cooler feel than we've had of late, and that's the feature that you'll notice going through the next few days as well. in the short term, some isolated showers for some areas. they will tend to fade away as we get on through the next few hours or so. and overnight willjust be left with a few across this far southeastern quarter. cold weather fronts just pushing in across the far north of scotland, keeping the temperatures up with an associated cloud here. but further south, with the skies clearing quite markedly, i think we'll end up with quite a widespread frost in many inland areas. so it's a bright, fresh start to the new day on monday for southern scotland, much of england and wales, northern ireland, till the clouds up here and always that bit cloudy across the north of scotland with bits and pieces of rain coming through or what is not going to be more of a westerly breeze. so maybe notjust feeling as cold as it did do through the course of sunday,
this is bbc news. the headlines at four... ole gunnar solskjaer has been sacked as manchester united's manager, after seniorfigures at the club met last night. fires and fighting on the streets of the hague — lockdown protesters clash with dutch police in a second night of violence. in the uk, an investigation is being launched into whether there is racial bias in the design of some medical devices used by the national health service. the health secretary said people may have died as a result of the issue. i think possibly yes, yes. i don't have the full facts and that will be across... these oximeters are being used in every country and they have the same problem. labour accuses the home secretary of "dangerous incompetence" over channel migrant crossings —