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Rigorous Fearless Independent

This report is free to access.

The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 sets out national pledges to achieve net zero and contain global warming to 1.8°C above its pre-industrial levels— COP27 will buttress pledges, now at risk from the energy crisis, and advance some nations to 2030.

The TMT sector is a leader on net zero in the private sector. Companies that measure their end-to-end carbon footprint throughout their supply chain—as many do in the UK’s TMT sector—can target their GHG emissions.

The TMT sector underpins the UK’s vibrant digital economy that enables hybrid work-from-home (WFH), which reduces fossil fuel use thus heading off both the energy crisis and the climate crisis.

Pressure to deliver guidance is suppressing commercial activity which in turn is making guidance more challenging to reach. Although the dividend is well covered for now, the deteriorating cashflow outlook is unhelpful.

The change in strategy to give autonomy to country markets and to be more customer-centric has its merits but is not consistent with many Group initiatives and will take a long time to bear fruit.

Vodafone reiterated its intention to merge with H3G in the UK. Recent setbacks to approval prospects may not be as detrimental as they appear, and there is much to be gained with the potential to increase cashflow four-fold.

The latest Ofcom figures show that broadcast viewing by 16- to 24-year-olds has dropped by two-thirds in the past 10 years. Additionally, the Brits’ viewing figures for all ages halved in the past decade, showing a bigger decline than the Baftas, and one worse than the overall all-ages viewing decline, said TV analyst Tom Harrington, of Enders Analysis. The BPI stressed the Brits’ engagement with young fans across social media and YouTube, citing 44m views across performances and highlights from the 2022 show on its official YouTube channel, in addition to viewing figures that gave ITVX its best single day of 2022 until Love Island started in June.

Happy Valley has the alchemy of critical and popular success. Now appointment TV, it won two Baftas for best drama and proved a ratings hit for the BBC (episode one of season three scored 11.3mn viewers). Tom Harrington, head of television at Enders Analysis says, “you could probably count on one hand the number of shows that have grown their viewing since 2014 like Happy Valley has. Since it first appeared on BBC1, overall TV viewing has dropped 30 per cent.”

But such granular local detail is counter to the general direction of television, says Harrington, which “due to funding and distribution models is increasingly being pitched to a worldwide audience”. This blandness to satisfy foreign markets irks Wainwright; she insists that a “strong sense of place” contributes to the success of shows, “whether it’s the desert in Breaking Bad or the snowy bleakness of Fargo”. 

After a brutal start to 2022 – losing subscribers to rival streamers, cutting off Russian viewers and facing streamer exhaustion – Netflix has been adding subs and needs to keep going to pay off its still sizeable debts. 7.7 million more people signed up in the last three months of 2022, which suggests the Harry and Meghan documentary was far from commercial suicide. 

Which matters, as Tom Harrington at Enders Analysis points out, Netflix is in the attention economy and “Netflix wants to be where you see the most talked about content in the world.” 

Ad-blocking also embodies the concept of a ratchet effect, said Joseph Teasdale, the head of tech at the media research firm Enders Analysis. Once a user adopts the software, they rarely abandon it, Teasdale explained, meaning every new convert shifts the balance of power in a nearly irreversible manner.

“The FBI itself sent out a public service announcement in December advising people to install an ad-blocker,” Teasdale said. “When you have stuff like that, how can you blame people for wanting to protect their privacy?”

"The worries about Chinese influence through the parent company are harder to put to bed," Jamie MacEwan, senior media analyst at Enders Analysis, told Insider.

"So long as ByteDance is the owner, it will be difficult to convince politicians that managers in Beijing are not exercising undue operational control, or accessing sensitive data, whatever internal measures have been put in place," added MacEwan. 

He added "The worry for TikTok is if bipartisan momentum can be sustained in Congress: that would be more dangerous for the app than Trump's volley of executive orders in 2020, which were rushed and straightforward to overturn on legal grounds."

These plans for European consolidation seem subject to a domino effect across the regulatory landscape. Combined with the French decision, this latest rejection “has sealed the future of an RTL/ProSieben merger,” says François Godard, Senior Media and Telecoms Analyst at Enders Analysis. “For RTL, the ultimate catch was consolidation in Germany. This was fatally wounded by the failure of the merger in France. I don’t think that a success in the Netherlands would have changed that.”

“Bertelsmann/RTL were already rethinking their approach,” adds Godard. “Their underlying analysis of the impact of the digital platforms is right, they must devise a new strategy in response.”