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Rigorous Fearless Independent

This report is free to access.

Climate change is again a core theme of this year’s Media and Telecoms 2023 & Beyond Conference, as it has been since 2021 when the UK hosted COP26.

Published in March 2023, the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report points to alarming warming trends due to rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Echoing the messaging of COP26 and COP27, the IPCC implores signatories: “Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C.” With many governments stymied by short-term political exigencies, it is businesses and people that must harbour the ambition for net zero that our planet requires. 

This year’s report highlights the climate change initiatives of TMT companies to decarbonise operations, and their society-leading role towards the environment. Media businesses are mobilising their touchpoints with their audiences—from news, to magazines, to audio-visual productions such as films, TV programmes, games and advertising—to inform and win over hearts and minds in favour of climate action. Case studies of the Guardian, WPP, Ad Net Zero, Bertelsmann, Vivendi, Sky, BT Group, and Virgin Media O2 provide best practice learnings.

Media consultant Alice Enders has claimed the BBC's world renowned wildlife shows could be next in line for cuts due to their high production budgets. 

The original Planet Earth in 2006 cost £16million to make.

'If the licence fee continues to wither, you are looking at the BBC's big-ticket items to make savings so nothing can be immune,' Ms Enders told the i. 'David Attenborough's natural history series sell well globally but they are expensive too. There would need to be more co-productions with international broadcasters.'

Ms Enders warned big ticket drama could also be the focus of cost-cutting, adding: 'There could be less high-end drama, it's a big expense and streamers are forcing prices up. 

'The costume budget alone for The Crown is huge.'

The deal, nevertheless, is “a good one for everybody involved”, Francois Godard, senior media and telecoms analyst at Enders Analysis.

Godard says that despite the plateau – or real terms drop – within the context of broadcast deals across Europe “it keeps the gap between them and the other European leagues.”

“The importance is maintaining the gap and Premier League clubs are the richest,” Godard tells.

“They have more resources to pay for players and nobody can outbid them. It could mean less money for players, but the players can't play elsewhere. They can play in Saudi Arabia in United States, but it's quite marginal. Few players have a good offer to go to these places.”

Godard says that the EPL maintaining that competitive gap with the other big five leagues feeds a “virtuous circle” in which the EPL continues to showcase the best players and which boost the next round of international rights sales.

The Premier League will earn 3.5% more per year from its domestic rights for 2025- 29 than today, enough to maintain the gap with rival competitions.

Sky will pay 7% more for as many as 70% more games and cement the prominence of its Premier League coverage, while the Saturday 3pm slot could host the Women’s Super League.

TNT Sports secures its premium profile and Amazon shifts its focus to the Champions League.

The Premier League’s handling of its latest domestic rights sale has been declared a success by Francois Godard, a senior media and telecoms analyst at Enders Analysis.

“I think it’s a good deal because prices for rights are flat across Europe, or declining,” Godard told PA.

“The important thing is to maintain the gap between the money they earn and the money earned by the closest (rival) continentally, Spain’s LaLiga.”

Godard felt the structure of the deal – spread over four years instead of the traditional three years and with two fewer packages on offer – suited the largest incumbent rights holders Sky Sports, which he feels has a symbiotic relationship with the league.

“Sky need the Premier League. It’s their best and most valuable content,” Godard added.

A regulatory intervention on public interest grounds now stands in the way of RedBird IMI owning the Telegraph and Spectator after the Barclay family settled the loan with Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), thus ending the auction of the titles.

RedBird IMI CEO Jeff Zucker anticipated concerns on public interest grounds in the UK and sketched out possible undertakings to mitigate them.

Ofcom has experience with advising on the public interest in newspaper mergers, but not with tussling with opponents on the foreign ownership of news titles.

Now, though, the situation looks set to worsen. If the Government were to opt for only a 6.7pc increase in the licence fee next year – reflecting the inflation rate in September – the BBC’s annual shortfall would balloon to around £516m, according to Enders Analysis.

Alice Enders at Enders Analysis says the BBC is likely to swing the axe on big-budget productions, rather than tinkering around with smaller cutbacks.

“The problem is the minute you cut the content you cut the audience,” says Enders. “It’s very difficult to recover from that as a public service broadcaster.”