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Rigorous Fearless Independent

The letter is free to access by clicking through the title.

Quality news media is a public good, and in the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 the sustainability of information and news provision should be ensured at all costs

COVID-19 has given new urgency to protect the supply of local and national news. News media, perhaps particularly local news media, is a critical information service for a vulnerable population, many of whom are confined at home. In the context of the findings of the Cairncross Review, the pandemic is intensifying rather than abating the sector's decade-long commercial crisis due to a clutch of inter-related structural changes.  

Many recent initiatives – including the Cairncross Review itself, the Nesta Future News fund and the Public Interest News Foundation – rightly focused on a framework for developing long-term sustainable models for news media. Government needs to shift the focus to managing an emergency; not just for our country’s health, but our citizen’s provision of quality news and information. Right now, we need to mobilize Government funding to make quality news a public service.

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James said “They have to agree player wage reductions; that has to occur. But if the agreed temporary wage reductions are not adequate, there could be problems.”

He added “If the reductions aren’t sufficient but they are in other big football clubs and other big leagues in the world, then the only other option to avert bankruptcy for many Premier League clubs will be to sell their players,” 

European mobile service revenue growth improved by 1ppt to -1.2% primarily as a consequence of diminished competitive intensity in France. Trends elsewhere were largely flat.

The mobile sector is playing an important role in tackling COVID-19 and is likely to be relatively resilient in the short term with a broadly neutral financial impact. Longer term it will be exposed to the fortunes of the economy.

There are reasons to believe that the improvement in trends evidenced in the last quarter may continue as churn reduction takes the heat out of some markets, cuts to intra-EU calls annualises out and for most countries, end-of-contract notifications will only begin to impact in 2021.

On the 5 March 2020 Enders Analysis co-hosted the annual Media & Telecoms 2020 & Beyond conference with Deloitte and sponsored by Allen & Overy, Barclays, and The Financial Times 

The conference was chaired by David Abraham, CEO of Wonderhood Studios. With a stellar speaker line up, this invitation-only event saw over 450 senior attendees come together to hear some of the world’s leading media and communications executives discuss the forces shaping their businesses 

This report provides edited transcripts, videos and slides of the keynote speaker presentations. Videos of the presentations are also available on the conference website 

James said "Those data caps were legacy tariffs. Broadly speaking, they are not really a factor in the vast majority of the market at the moment. I don't think they'll be coming back."

He added "What broadband operators are trying to do is to have a realistic, proportionate and achievable level of response. The imperative is to keep these networks going so that they can provide resilience to their customers."

Demand for telecoms capacity is booming, and the networks can (broadly) cope, with the increase primarily in off-peak demand. However, as the crisis continues, maintaining resilience becomes more challenging.

In the short term, the demand for ample, reliable connectivity coupled with reduced churn will add resilience to operator financials, although there may be significant weak spots especially in business markets.

However, as the crisis goes on, the pressure on capacity and network maintenance may grow, and the impact of the dramatic economic slowdown on consumers and businesses will also put pressure on financials.

The third idea is of Netflix sufficiency, and if that sounds vague it is illustrative of the vague pronouncements of government spokespeople, from Boris Johnson down. As Claire Enders of Enders Analysis, and a host of other industry and academic voices have made clear, the comparison between the BBC and Netflix is spurious. Netflix is a heavily debt-laden commercial enterprise pursuing first-mover advantage. While Netflix excels in certain categories of filmed entertainment and original programme investment, its services come nowhere near the range of the BBC in news, local content, or cultural specificity. Most importantly, Netflix would not have the capacity to offer anything approaching such a range under its current governance and business model.

In a likely scenario, the suspended football season could be concluded in empty stadiums in a June and July rush, nevertheless with severe financial consequences.

Pay-TV incumbents like Sky face limited risk—at worst they lose four months of subscription revenue for games already paid for. No-contract services such as DAZN must anticipate a more severe shock. 

To limit disruption, pain will have to be shared across the supply-chain with players’ pay first in line. But fast coordination in a continent-wide, multi-layered industry is challenging; in places, the issue may turn political.