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Rigorous Fearless Independent

This report is free to access.

Female-led and equally-led employers numbered 550,000 in the UK in 2019, a 40% share of 1.4 million businesses. These are often sub-scale businesses requiring financial and digital skills to scale up.

Female-led businesses cluster in education, health, food and accommodation, the latter being highly exposed to the pandemic. The more protected and dynamic ICT sector has low female engagement, which higher levels of study of STEM subjects will remedy.

Consumers are embracing digital to live and work through the pandemic. Enterprises that are digital and digitally-enabled will survive and flourish, supported by initiatives from Google, Facebook and others.

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Market revenue growth improved to -2%, after the sport-affected -6% last quarter, but was still low by historic standards.

Backbook pricing pressure is still hitting the market, and this will not improve until 2021 at the earliest.

Demand however looks strong; broadband adoption has re-accelerated, and the early signs of ultrafast adoption are encouraging.

The BBC’s licence fee settlement process for 2022 to 2027 is now underway. This time there seems to be greater transparency than the previous negotiations in 2010 and 2015 which led to outcomes that effectively reduced licence fee income by c. 30%

It comes at a pivotal time for the BBC, and by extension the creative community across the UK which it supports. Recovery of this important sector relies heavily on the ability of the BBC to operate in the way that its remit requires: with investment, skills, intellectual property and talent flowing to the wider environment

But with £1.6 billion falling due over the next decade on its pension obligations and its Nations & Regions footprint alone, there is little room for manoeuvre if there are further reductions in revenues or top-slicing. The result will be less investment on the screen and a wound to a struggling sector

Alice said "A lot of the issues that have faced the publishing industry this year look set to continue next year, we don’t have a path back to normality yet. The macroeconomic position of the country is still going to strongly affect advertising, as well as consumer behaviour."

"One of the big themes that I think will come into next year is M&A and consolidation. A lot of the traditional, legacy players are ripe to be picked, and I expect we’ll see more transactions. And then from a news perspective, that opens up a number of doors around regulation and competition policy. There are very specific aspects of competition law which relate to newspapers, and which prevent certain mergers from happening. Next year we might see cases where a newspaper is either acquired by a larger group, or closes down. And if competition law blocks those acquisitions and the smaller groups close down, then you get ‘news deserts’ of areas not served by local newspapers."

The US Department of Justice antitrust case against Google alleges an illegal monopoly in search and search advertising in their home and largest market.

The lawsuit targets Google's control of the Android mobile operating system and exclusive revenue share agreement with Apple, which the EU prohibited in 2018, a decision that Google has appealed.

Alongside antitrust enforcement, legislative initiatives in the EU and UK will create an ex ante antitrust framework for relations between “gatekeeper” platforms and their users and customers, which the US Congress has yet to emulate.

Tom said "the service is integrated with around 4.3m Sky Q boxes,  which comprises around half of all Sky TV subscribers...Integration of Netflix and later Disney+ in 2020 into Sky Q indicates that it is a keen platform to drive SVOD subscriptions"

He said "smaller services may “find it difficult to get traction, which is why Discovery+ is being given away for free [for a year] on Sky Q to people who’ve shown they are willing to pay a bit more for TV.”

“Everyone’s restructuring around streaming, whether it is the BBC, ITV, NBC Universal and even Disney. Not every streamer will survive.”

BuzzFeed, venture capital-funded and ad-supported, is a bellwether for the health of the digital media industry and a mild obsession for publishers and industry analysts. In buying HuffPost (which Peretti co-founded), the sum of their two parts won’t be much greater than the whole, but given the challenging ad market, their future is more optimistic together, said Alice 

“Shrinkage seems inevitable,” she said, “but at a far slower pace and with a more optimistic outlook than if BuzzFeed and HuffPost had remained separate entities.”