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Read this: Charming the old Gray Lady

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Charming the old Gray Lady…



BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 for the last eight Mark Thompson has been CEO or one of the most story brands in use the New York Times and his leadership The Fortunes of The Old Grey Lady have been transformed 6 million subscribers.

It's branched out into podcast and TV programmes out most of the industry cut back and lays off staff.

It's been hiring hundreds of journalists some people including the New York Times say the publication has got to be that it has imperial ambitions something that's often said of course about the BBC where Mark was director-general from 2004 to 2012 by coincidence sweet was another former director general Tony Hall both now in between jobs at the same time.

It's good to have you back with this when you step down to the BBC in 2012.

Did you have an inkling of what you might do next?

Yes, I mean by step down from BBC I accept the job at the annual x adapt point.

I'd been approached and asked about the Times after I denounce I was going in the period between the announcement and actually leaving Emmerdale went off to New York and started running up my sleeves again and spoken with the challenge and the Mechanics around his top jobs happened to you gave you a call.

Was it where the sorts burgers was it a headhunter and it was a Leftfield idea.

I beat the head onto the headhunters off and I think they need to come up with one can a curious and unexpected name on the list.

I was initially to be honest.

Play the OXO family and the board of new tyres water, please get we had two conversations and ended up both thinking that it could work well and I think one of the story is the relationship with me in the times has turned out far better than probably either party to the sleep even hope it's been it's been great but why were you scared to go with you because you weren't if you wanted to move to New York dino.

You got an American family with it because the New York Times a smaller institution in the BBC was it because you've never actually worked in print.

Why we sceptical American never work in newspapers and never actually worked a single day of my life for a for-profit organisation and commercial crisis so the last person on the planet.

They would shoes I didn't know quite a lot about digital and I obviously at the BBC and Channel 4 time thinking about how you change great Media

And bring them into the future and I had an international and Como audio and video experience which they were looking for as well, but I think it was quite unexpected idea.

I mean the headhunter is is often comes up with inspired ideas alien DNA in this case but in this case the alien DNA actually help cold because it maybe we could try different things and and and they were prepared to maybe let me try things that much harder to do with her home ground executive.

I just had you not being a gym sit in the head Hunter would you have continued at the BBC or you think about leaving the BBC anyway?

And B&B the scale of the energy and be because I've just a need to to to throw yourself at immensely complicated fire to 8-years I in my view certainly for me and I suspect the most executives about right at the end of which I think honestly you know it's better to the individual for the for the person on the new challenge several new challenges and institution.

I think these intrusions.

I'm afraid given given the rate of change need this constant constant process of new ideas new experiments.

No rest of it and I think that institutions also benefit from New leaders the other things by the ways if senior leaders don't move on to see how I'm going to get more diversity and leadership these big companies absolutely right and that's an issue that the BBC's graphing with the moment as we discussed last week suspicion initially by your colleagues in the

I know you say that the oxo's burger family who are the owners of the New York Times of keen on you and headhunter was keen on you, but this what do they make this this this this interesting intellectual from Britain the BBC I come for a journalistic in a creative background people may know that in the in the US in US newspapers are very strict national and split between The Newsroom oven call the church and the business side of these newspapers which is called the state and very strict dividing line between the two came from the church side flipping over and arriving on the stateside was itself very unusual but then I was the first external chief exec.

What time does bad 18951 and fox the founder of the family bought newspaper so having a stranger coming and exactly it was a completely novel experience very tight-knit family business with the small seen in many ways to eat Sutton for those who loves it in in New York and beyond.

It's not unlike Radio 4 the people going to set their Clocks by an essential part of their lives but also the longer the list of grievances.

They carry ownership and intense emotional which also because these are typically very smart sceptical people also means that is a very feisty relationship with the with the with the readers.

The new times was not just where you heard the news.

It was how you found your job in the class of my job, as it is told you want to go and see on Broadway it told you want to cook it was for me.

Please and one of the puzzles seemed to me was the first to the States in the 1980s and being aware of just the breadth and richness of the times, but I just was as good as the internet at the effect of old type casting and narrowing the reputation of the New York Times on digital to use an opinion and that was a very impoverished you what the times was it was a much bigger thing that one of the tasks.

I thought over the past 8 years has been to try and re-discover that colour breath social breath very good on lifestyle and on how we live now.

How our world is changing.

London to during a covered by the way something about it seems to me on the breadth of the times, but also then figure out how to calibrate Eva and let that all shine you know in the context of a little smartphone screen device in 2012.

It was very much a newspaper first digital publication second.

Just get a sense of the financial health of the institution that you inherited American newspaper also the other European newspaper in the British newspapers looked at the charts closely you can see that was really a time difference time does starting from a higher place in it would have been a fantastic be profitable company but all of the train lines were pointing down and without action the roof.

It will be in the same place as everyone else but just a few years later do a print revenue streams and digital revenue streams on the print side print advertising was falling plastically and have been falling for years print subscription and the times has a tradition which doesn't really exist in the UK are very expensive home delivery subscriptions and people who pay a lot of money more than $1,000 a year if it 7-days a week today to get the Times physically delivered this is delivered across the United States every morning at 6:30 in the morning.

It was a very profitable business, but the numbers of subscribers was falling and the times of just about keeping his head above water thereby putting the price up by 6% every every year 2012 is actually falling they launch the digital pain model about 18 months before I arrived but that was in trouble and was palpably.

Slowing down look like it was going out at about half a million half a million subscribers the numbers that have seen you mentioned that you have been adding around 3 26000 digital subscriptions a year and when you arrive that I was falling to around 20 to 25000 going to become more more.

We talk about how you've grown the business, but that was just the thing it's powered your growth was at the moment.

He took over falling quite sharply actually in its growth.

Not overall.

It's growth risk to be business failing the time in the financial crisis of 2008 2009-2010 deeper and found better strategic Solutions

I was likely I was going to be presiding over if not the end of the new times and certainly a massive shrinking and I kind of a terrible loss of journalistic capability and simply loss of journalists, so I mean it's my first class was simply to try and encourage the organisation to think big and dig deep and find find pressure answer and you got to go with your top executives on Friday afternoons and you sell around for 67 hours and eventually after months of meetings and arguments you came up with a bunch of bullet points on a sheet of paper that said this is the way forward and you decided you decided that digital subscriptions were the way forward but if we go back in time to 20 12 2013 and I was working in his fairies at the time to myself a huge number of people people in the media.

Even then it had strongly to what you proven to be a false idea which is that it's if it's on.

Got to be free and you show that actually people will pay but just be really clear about this important point in principle you strongly endorsed The Pursuit of digital subscriptions, but did you do it on the basis of evidence that people would pay was it that was it a hunch or was it Frankie the absence of plausible alternatives as true of my time at the BBC and Channel 4 as it does it wasn't the times I believe that these medialisation depend on a deep relationship with end users with viewers and listeners and readers and a relationship which is exactly not some glancing blow not some to the passing trade but actually a deep relationship and I got a very deep faith in the public in the United Kingdom and the United States the out there.

There are millions of people who want high quality content and are happy to pay.

The means of conveyance of that is kind of second order that the most important thing is you want it you need it you feel it's part of your life and that naturally follows that people will pay support for the BBC licence fee or in the context of digital it can be digital subscription and say to me might mind fundamental belief is in the the possibility of that relationship be underlined demand for quality that you got away forward the problem advertising as you know the customer for an advertising organisation is the Advertiser not the public and the risk is you breathe in contempt for the public and the public are units their eyeballs who are sold to advertisers.

I think it's very very hard to keep cultural standards high when you're trying to entirely based or economical advertising and it was pressure on editorial values.

Is you and I've discussed before we can create is the race of the bottom where in order to get those advertised on board you need to collect and therefore that puts pressure on the sorts of contacting you actually produce give us the numbers and the turnaround give us the give us the Thomson transformation at the new Elisa terzo headliners delivering growth and starts and starts colour getting all those all those Tramlines when I arrived we can around half a million digital does discussed.

It seems to be going out.

We've got over 5 1/2 million, so that's 10 times as many but more important than that the numbers of digital.

Growing a between 1 and 2 million the year so the rate of growth is now in a single year and Indian in some individual courses of the Year with many subscribers.

We had in total back in 2012 and this is all straight to the bottom line is that support about this business model is what's exhilarating for you having built it is it with each new subscriber and obviously the money go on things you spend money on this and your news is expanded but all these subscribers these millions of new readers is all money for an existing machine and therefore it all straight to the Bottom Line I mean absolutely awesome Martin expand the the good ladies and gentlemen of Wall Street operating leverage.

That's when your your your revenue starts increasing much higher than your unit revenue increases hard new unit cost and soda.

begins to become more and more profitable remain profitable companies making profit the risk was looking at the trend lines and that prophet getting under more pressure it go in the future, but the Weeping pouring hundreds and hundreds of millions of Dollars into investment in the Sciences in Germany have 150 more journalist now as you said at the start with one of those rare Media organisation which is growing our ability, but we've been holding profitability pretty steadily and I believe in the future if a company chooses to it can become an extremely profitable company because of all of that stock price is probably about 5 times greater now and it was then so we seen an enormous appreciation in the in the share price of I want to get into the the relationships that you've had to develop with the technology companies who control Sony

Your distribution or news distribution today.

You know all about the dispute at the moment between epic the makers of fortnite and apple about how big a cut apple should get on sales what you're taking that because I get this is you probably I imagine I'm guessing will be sympathetic to the argument that the Tech companies have no moral case for taking a big cut on transactions between you and your subscribers and the moral case that they would make I think is about the fact that they themselves have invested heavily in creating unique platforms and applewood, are you don't have to use an Apple device and you can use other devices and other app stores Google famously, but where people would argue, but that's not really true.

You've got a kind of oligopoly of app stores you got you know you've got basically the Android

Play Store and you got the apple app store and you know when you get very small numbers of players you get price distortion and that big cut the cartridge epic is complaining about is an example of you know market dominance and the abuse and abusive markets stepping back.

I mean I want to see my Vue in my time at new X and Y before that really at the BBC was your first Duty if your company is where in the world and where ever possible rather than waiting for the incredibly slow and cogs of regulation and you know you know economic intervention by governments and regulators into the waiting for that try and

Vivendi and a mutually acceptable way forward with your relations with the big big digital companies that remains my dear by and large.

We tried to forward good pretty public spats, but generally over the last 8 years we tried to work with these big platforms to mutual advantage apple news in June which is Apple's the company's new subscription at what was you thinking that the Germans mixed up with everyone else is journalism people may not describe it because because it doesn't typically lead are Germans and Japanese doesn't typically to the propensity subscribe from the people find is there is very low we get very low revenue from advertising from the platform and we would rather than in any event in principle, but the people come.

The new times to see time spent on the same way, there's a reason why the BBC doesn't as they were spread BBC programming across every channel in the electronic program guide at the BBC would come to BBC while to come to BBC Two BBC iPlayer news.

Did you before leaving falling out of our new to the reasons? You just articulate did you attempt to negotiate preferential deal with that that would give you a better percentage about a cut that earlier.

We did a very attractive deal with Facebook for that new news tab where Facebook entered into a multi-year contract where they're paying in your dog's many millions of Dollars for the privilege of having your times headlines and some stories available to Facebook use.

Enat part of the Facebook app to make economic sense to us but when when the time's doesn't it doesn't we don't see sense of being on the platform that we are the joiner platform or come off it by the way to Apple users.

We have a very good iOS app and people can use safari to go on the mobile web and see this is not a question taking your x content of Apple devices.

Are you had a consideration as a chief executive about the Apple news environment where the new totalism should exist in that environment.

That's a complex integration to do with what he was eyeballs land on the brand associations and so on but if you got a better cut if it was worth it if it's more worth it for you financially you might re-enter all your success in my Tree Avenue

Primary pieces is the most people most of the time if they want to come and look at New York Times content more than occasionally we want to come or destination on the mobile web and two are apps order need to buy physical newspapers a newspaper or a or a great digital experience can make sense of music you can put it in Context he can distinguish clearly between news and opinion and I can make for a much better more understandable experience by the end user random bits of journalism splattered across the internet a lot of the issues with fake news to do with the the way in which these big digital environments and uses public can't really can't figure out what's going on where the stuff comes from? What's the provenance? Should I believe it is it news is opinion has it come from the desk of Vladimir Putin

It's it's it's the scrambling of of news and nonsense in his raving digital platforms is in one of the reasons that the talking to the mess.

It's currently in in digital you mention that the pace of regulation in democratic intervention is slow as against the place of technology innovation which is very fast company that we're not just his Facebook Google and so one of the most powerful companies in human history historians will look back on this past decade as a time when a few mostly Californian firms were allowed to presidented well power-knowledge without sufficient democratic scrutiny.

We got away with it out the the the period from about a particular manufacturing companies which lead to a reaction.

I'm at the creation of antitrust laws and the the prosecution by great lawyers like Louis Louis brandeis in the United States of principles are the limits of capitalism at intervals.

They relate to enormous company so the and the breakup and some years later of Standard Oil is in normal Oil Company into a smaller companies.

Is is a classic example of that and some people look at what's happening now and say surely.

We've got another colour dangerous Golden Age of giant companies and surely will have to be another great antitrust moment Theodore Roosevelt and there isn't any other than someone at the moment at some people would say can I have you got you've invested heavily forecast lots of your journey bit like with the Times newspaper here where the time does the radio station and lots of their Jonas making radio programmes lots of your germs to that podcast.

What's your strategy with TV production because it was report.

That you've got 10 scripted TV shows on the go 3 feature-length documentaries.

What are your ambitions in TV on your time does it's like it's like a meal which generates vast amounts of intellectual property one of the stories wonderful kind of mediabrands one example a weekly column in the Sunday New York Times which is called Mum loves which is tales from the Frontline of modern relationships.

This is dating marriage divorce bereavement and so on some of these stories and dramatized with notable stars that that's working many countries so probably why don't we are cells get more involved in developing it into inch television.

I would say that where is podcasting feels very closely complementary to to what the times has already done in deeper than a century and a half in terms of written journalism televisions going to be more kind of I think more episode it's going to be in some ways more opportunistic.

You're making films that instead you make you are making films and Barry who wrote a phenomenal long read last year things around Christmas time so I read The Jungle prince of Delhi which is about amazing story about a wolf in a rainforest Forest that's actually turned into a limited series 4 Amazon studio 7 you what times is currently selling its journalism and making turning it stories into is your independent producer in effect who's making stuff for the big streaming platform.

Just be really clear about it.

Reward program you are making progress is a step changes working closely with with companies who produce films and and programs but there's a big difference does not have what the BBC has which is a large in-house production capability to be made and by partners who have got those capabilities increasingly.

I think we will want to have what in the image of the film development capabilities to take projects to a certain level and 2nd to argue for a great way to slice of the financial reward for that only move on from the things.

We will sort out your track record and pick the editorial part of your brain you of course those who don't know how many years in the BBC doing it all the things Watchdog news, Not the Nine oclock news then was before you ran at Channels here.

Said that among the biggest challenges facing your successor of the so-called culturales in particular the difficulty reporting news to a divided nation and a divided world.

Why is that such a big challenge? I think it's I want to say it's a challenge and you know if your instant great journalism.

It's an amazing opportunity to try and uncover and get the bottom what is happening this what is of course when when there's a lot of anger and a sense of hurt and Injustice in a society that plays out in all sorts of ways.

It means that people readers and viewers and listeners come to me often with very strong feelings quick take offence or other field angry or hypercritical of of what's being proposal has been what?

Inside the building let me know if these great Media organisations should be poor say should you know the people coming in although both of the times and BBC and Channel 4 as well as a strong tradition of impartiality human beings human and and A brainy emotions and concerns into the building with them and generous a breakdown to debate with each other what's going on.

So you have a very lively internal debate about about what should and shouldn't be published on and so full you're trying to explain a very polarized Society and polarized political environment to a public who are themselves polarization plate about a battle for the soul of the institution and the reason I think you're particularly interesting to talk to about this is because as you will know as we speak the BBC is facing another challenges along similar lines and I put two Mark that there.

Truth is there is a generational divide in many newtons and in many national institutions like the movie when you at times between younger often ethnically diverse staff you have a different conception of the role of journalism, too old if you come from a more traditional Patmore patrician passport if you if I could and conception and what gender's and should be about it all on a itself seemed to me.

It's not a lot of the traditional verities of a certain style of of journalism on both sides of the Atlantic are certainly question more now and although by no means exclude by no means exclusively significantly by by by younger colleagues.

What is positive and negative discovered at times is that non journalists software engineers and scientists advertising people who in the previous area would a very differentially left all that's all matters to the church side The Newsroom side of the organisation has only been into don't want to express enough is enough to express them on Twitter and then and Barry Weiss I know this is straining to the the church side of things were very wise and I've been there to the paper and she said the Twitter was now editing than you at times and very strongly worded memo to the publisher of the Salzburg Salzburg and I presume you don't agree with very race at the new tires, but I wonder if you accept that something approaching us to some people to some people a mob mentality on Twitter has infected some news rooms.

What I don't believe the temple edited by Twitter and I don't think the X is in a way that suggested resignation letter is coming giving into this stuff.

I mean what we have a big role early in the summer with a moped by conservative senator Tom cotton, put the headlights sending the troops and it said I should just say no we discuss this and previous shows that and opinion Edward James Bennett running after a big staff revolt conservative opinion pieces in the time doing we had an assistant federal general making the case actually very eloquently for the return of the death penalty for federal prisoners.

We've had numerous very strongly worded the pieces and the story about the new times over the

Years I mean happens to coincide with my time, but it's it's it's it's separate is that the breath of opinion in particular the surfacing of Conservatives including strongly conservative voices in the opinion basing your times has got great as a much broader range of opinion today in the new times on the wasn't against the run of play against the stereotype.

I think it's a good thing.

I mean mind you is the eat intrinsically good for people with learning the public to be exposed to contrary opinions and although I think the research a thing is that all discretion and other words.

I think it's completely reasonable and editor-in-chief say I'm not going to publish this for the following reasons.

I did that myself at the BBC and Channel 4 sometimes.

I'm not gonna broadcast thing to do I do.

Opinion particularly when the opinion is intelligent and thoughtful and and thoughtfully and Callum Express and Away which doesn't give into rabble-rousing or rhetoric.

I think was a real place for that and I want to compliment my colleagues at the time in particular James Bennett departed after the Tom cotton op-ed on is is this because that again that's something we think couple of things what time we talked about the belief in the audience and and and Investment in The Newsroom something else which is going to the range of voices I believe in such a great job.

Why do you leave I mean you can completely understand.

I know you can understand why lot of people say here's a guy showing great competencies of registering his career this opinionated James Bennett I think worked at the Atlantic before he is you say it's done a pretty good job.

He publishes one.

Op-ed which is possibly a marginal call Lisa a massive staff revolt and Alicia somebody with conservative voices or moderate voice is like Barry White I don't know what David Brooks or Ross douthat who was the voice of the times of my favourite writers what they made it, but it led to this departure of a very esteemed journalist and a lot of people say that Barry Weiss was right.

What that shows is that a lot of a very Group 2 Mob mentality just called it actually group of internal staff have got their victim.

They've got them and they push someone out just a publishing one piece that was bad and you sell for just said that he did a good job.

It always very tempting to argue from the particulars of the general state One case and say will this doesn't prove that multiple been been published by the New York Times which come which are as strong in her own way is that on cotton piece?

No one could feel more guitar by James departures 99 he's a wonderful editor editorial process.

That was clearly a potentially influence rupees and it did not go through the kind of processes.

You would expect that kind of peace to have gone through indeed including average engines have read the peace before and so I want to say I take James departure much more around the most people particularly as a worthy cultural pessimists who loves to seize upon.

You know anything to try and demonstrate a broader point in a Land of Hope and Glory Proms bring something doesn't prove ex doesn't prove why I have been for a decade of working.

Actually you get a very large number of decisions most of which are fine and simply go through without anyone noticing you going to have lower cases each of which somebody somewhere is Friday essentially demonstrates the fall of Western civilization and I just want to say if you're working edited this stuff through it's not really like that.

I'm quite often the reason something is more practical than than than than the average opinion writing would want to believe that and exactly what you mean the reason I push on the tablet is not just because it was such a hi-pro destination, but I never reading a few years ago and it's you gave the Sunday Times magazine where you said about Jeremy Clarkson is a friend of yours that you wish that the BBC has found a way of disability and maybe but also found a way accommodate inclusive and I just wondered whether few years from now.

You might say the same of James bed and although I think James Bennett Jeremy Clarkson probably never been raised in the same sentence together.

We should probably move on.

Jeremy Clarkson I don't know I wasn't there in the reality of these things these often as you very painful things I've been through a few of the BBC as well as observing other than your time.

You just have to do your best to look at the evidence make a judgement.

Not on the basis of what someone is going to write about about what's fair, and just I think it's right and left the boarding Media allowed to get my spoke last week so I mention to turn it will not least very difficult negotiation with a majority conservative government which led to the BBC taking on a welfare payment for the over 75s that you notorious Lee threatened to resign during an earlier negotiation with a very different.

Different administration based on your experience and negotiating a Charter and negotiating with number 10 what advice you prepared to give him public at Tim Davies he heads into number 10.

What's the key thing that uses boss needs to do I'd like to everyone how essential to British public Life the BBC is somebody useful can a guarantee of proper in timely information and family-friendly entertainment and information and document in difficult times in the BBC does have many friends in a maternity with respect.

We we all know the case of the BBC I'm I'm very just in the specifics of what Tim Dave is about to embark on and you have been very relevant experience.

He's about to embark on and negotiation with the government that has at times been hostel another times being very very critical and put up stories and front Sunday papers saying that.

Whack the BBC you got really experience really relevant experience in dealing with number 10? What does a boss of the BBC need to do to get out of number 10 something that will save god? This is the worst thing to do the BBC is a critical national institution at a time when when the nation it serves has been going through an immense crisis of health crisis, but also an economic crisis and needs to rebuild and reconstruct can the BBC play a central role in achieving success for the UK and it is both about what happens inside this country and and the whole of this country that because he's got the presents across the nations in the region of the UK and I think significantly help make sure the whole country recovers in the right way, but it's also Britons voice.

Post brexit Britain needs the punching above it's weight in terms of the world at this is a soft part of diplomacy rules and more broadly projecting British talent the were so much the Beeches got to offer in terms of of this next quite difficult process of reconstruction of the country.

I think the any unidirectional certainly time.

I think you would want to go into those days those negotiations not trying to come up argue narrowly and sort of selfishly for the BBC but explaining how the BBC can add value and be an important part of the future of the country Defence of the BBC's public if they ask you to come back.

I've served my time.

I think that I'm

Listen to the BBC listen to Radio 4 Radio 3 on the website.

I mean you said you were always thought of you and I know this not through working with you talking to a huge time does the word with a very close you said that you always had and they say this is a positive thing and high-minded values when it comes to the news when you sat in your New York office look at the BBC News website you think it's gone down Market since you left.

I think I think there's a realism about the BBC journalist was a whole BBC channels and is aimed at a broad market and has been news as it was then I moved it later 10:00 but and the the BBC BBC journalism generally is it is closer to as a worthy the mid-market induce labour terms and it is to do a broadsheet and then your x is.

Is simply delivering longer moth or four more serious news than typically available across the mid-market? What's the point? Where do you live in market when you got the market isn't the BBC meant to be there for market failure wouldn't you like it? I know you're clever man Mark Thompson I know you like really high-minded stuff.

You read along novels.

Wouldn't you like it as a BBC went up market if it's shame as we're going to do staff that other people cannot or do not do and therefore the mid-market is exactly where we should not be let me surprise you by saying very clearly.

Yes, you already have a stand faith in the public and their appetite for serious content and high-quality content and my tenancy always to say experience when we don't see the banana.

Got news in the Independent on the Guardian EFT is r&m times as our models that.

Evening News we move the program very clearly upmarket and the audience increased earnings increased by almost everyone much of BBC's own research is going to be a kind of ratings collapse and it was it was the opposite to see the BBC website BBC News website become more serious more up-market.

I would yes, I would as a reader.

I think I think there's room for it and far from reducing performance and keep with increasing thing about being your x is we have very little competition globally for very serious news despite the incredible noisy extraordinary plurality of voices on the internet people putting serious money and I'm really getting behind series reporter with the world.

and there's plenty of room for successful competition at the top and seems to me the two threads that what you're saying in terms of the BBC and before that subscriptions together by asking you if the BBC was a subscription service and your talk to me as a champion of digital subscriptions if the BBC was a subscription service in the US how much money would it make

I think so because because you know most painting and most news an argument most maintained as well is relatively local I mean is it to a particular country Netflix has discovered you need quite a lot of local content in big markets to to really punch through the BBC is a subscription in the UK compulsory subscription service and that's the thing people ask asked about do you know why don't you just make it a voluntary subscription service after nerve to say to me you guys banging me as you know completely impossible that because I report on the BBC is abuse is midi editor, but not to be will say to me think about the BBC's you guys banging on about I hear Mark Thompson banging on about how great the BBC is the BBC so damn good wilditch the licence fee nice people to pay if it's that good they'll pay I might Thompsons just made a very long and very eloquent praise for the fact that if people do like stuff.

They will pay.

The heart of the idea of the BBC goes back to the 1920s and the foundation century go of the organisation universal mfl compulsory, yes, but but but the wonderful thing about a compulsory licence everyone is worth the same everyone is worth the same every individual every household, is the same value as it works at the broadcaster the real risk with with a subscription service is you do what everyone lean into your potential subscribers you leaning to those who are most likely to to today and and you don't serve.

Everyone's you or the tendency you you start thinking about who's got the money to subscribe.

It might be forgotten if your television subscription service who can who can afford to pay for.

Who are the most attractive audiences to advertisers what extraordinary and unique about a Public Service Broadcasting licence fee model is this idea of in the end? He does know economic bias towards how you serve the public and how do you say to the UK how important it is that they want to see places where everyone bumped into everyone on equal terms and particularly an appointment people worry disadvantage and about haves and have-nots precious about environment where you know you hear and experience a lot of of different kinds of people and one out there at home even today give an extraordinary to the BBC is exposed to it and I think that's an enormous thing to lose and I want to say I love you loads.

What time does the fantastic Media organisation and successful equivalent in the United States and I think that there's no kind of pressure valve compulsion for people to to listen to people died in Italy through both the election and with black lives matter these terrible instantly black people that's an enormous advantage of course just really think I know you tried very hard to George a direct consumer products and Netflix with his favourite thing called project angry which we talk about lots on the shoulder.

No, you are not very happy when it was caused by various myopic regulators budgetary really clip when I spoke to turn it all.

He seems to be very clear that the Future the BBC is a mixed-model does news which is not really community Bible which is larger.

And then a direct direct consumer offer a frictionless kind of experience around the world to you conclude basically of the BBC launch.

They paid for digital Products UK new product.

Would it make money because if it is that's the future.

Is it it is it is very feasible it's very feasible.

I think I would only one carrier which is this is incredibly capital-intensive period Media Netflix is spending billions and billions of dollars and if you want to compete in the in the Global Direct consumer pay market you can't do that entirely as it were by leveraging the Investment domestic investment which is made possible the licence fee you need real money to do that seems to me that starts posing questions been sitting still as

Spending limit of 200 million drop dead Ltd 200000000, how do you get the money do you have Partners and a top with partners if your partner's to builders business is often the partners have got there and then we know that those co-productions with Netflix and Amazon all rest of it anyway the future and the real value or of the pieces made in this part ships goes to the partner not to the BBC hasn't quite big questions about how you actually achieve that the same technology.

I mean this is a period where you call money in technology and I think one of the biggest challenges for Timon and the BBC going forward.

How do you get the firepower to make sure you really can't compete level of the apps and software delivers content.

How do I ask you briefly about Channel 4? Would you rather between 2002 and 2004 at what's the point of Channel 4 in 2020?

Why didn't the original pointed of Channel 4 which was to be a special place for an insect of small new production companies and to be a public service and colorfully public service alternatives to the BBC that that that I think there's still a lot to be said for it.

I mean my view is that at the mall at 4 can demonstrate? It's coming I can do things that nobody else can do nobody else is doing at the Moray can it can be open to regional production companies and small production companies and the less.

It feels like it's sorted in the middle the better but I do worry and I worry.

Do much about it about whether scale is an issue there before I left I was beginning to think about weather for Channel 5 and combination could have worked in conversation with the owners of Channel 5 being as as as he became more like cable TV and having a having a broad range of channels and having a different colour flavours of channels can actually help you get the colour scale you need for the investment for the future to those conversations Peter out.

I went back to the BBC and I think the in the end.

It was always a challenge about weather in the classic challenges of evaluation and can I get pretty please talk to me? I don't know how they do they go down the line simply but I do think that one.

One of the questions as well is about scale that channel 4 I think in this in this world of colour the gigantic beast Netflix and Amazon and Disneyland rest of it looks like a very very simple very small furry animal and it's model which is largely driven by a linear channel funded by advertising is not the model these big piece which are larger subscription and on-demand become so big will be at their deputy newspapers.

Is you know? What do the economics of these organisations look like when print advertising is gone.

Did you control by amateur 30-second TV spot is also an acute pressure of the economics of UK commercial Media outside Sky

Very fragile, so do you think is you looking your crystal ball? This is fascinating to think does your crystal ball suggest a that ITV will be bought and be the Channel 4 now has to revisit the idea of what is an operation on the side and we split them up.

We need that kind of Revolution in media and I think specifically there is likely to be a crisis of choice and 30 and quality in journalism in the UK notice and regional and national level and be the cover the cost is simply going to have the effect of accelerating the crisis, so I think I didn't fundamental questions about how you can buy the change existing organisations.

And rebase their business models and rebase their revenue recognised you're going to need new organisations new institutions to to deliver these things for public school table across across Europe developed world of course consolidation 2019 when when you were here the BBC iTV draws up plans to murder Channel 4 Channel 5 that's the sort of sort of thing you're indicating could happen again.

I mean you end up with the bigger business, which will fail slightly more slowly it actually is also about fundamental business model reinvention which essential is what we've done your turn to reinvent the business as well as give it appropriate scale to me the list of you talking about the David going into the conversation on the other side of the table.

The government about this this is potentially I mean to you, but it's going to be really quite dramatic reconstruction and reinvention of the industry had succeeded seems to me.

What you up to next month you got anything like that.

You're pretty young you fit 62 got no big job and you 8 years maybe somewhere 6363 hang on hang on hang on.

I said anything lined up.

Have you got anything like that? I haven't decided yet conversations in the UK conversations in both countries and in other countries as well and if I lay the bet that you're going to go enjoy the technology firm on the west coast of America what are the chances of that?

Teacher money in your pocket you give me all the media.

Show the scooters for your next job.

You would have lost money.

I think if you better what I was going to say you are going to do another big job.

So you are you are you are going to be having this is not the retirement.

This is not you disappearing off and you're not going to go round and Oxford college, and he said that's not what you're excited to do some fresh challenges and I like big butts and then maybe some more tempting both out there a way.

I think it's one big job at will see on September 3rd anniversary of arriving at the BBC at 21 and 22 as a graduate trainee years of continuous Employment and you'll forgive me.

I think it over any gonna take it over in the UK or the way, so I know you'll speak to from the US which we are grateful better ugc.

Your future is being something as three kids.

They mostly grown up living in the state of mind about that countries are children are making their lives in the US a slight national biased towards George more time in in the US but we expecting to spend a lot of time in the UK as well Mark Thompson outgoing CEO of the new at x thank you very much indeed for your time and as ever you find an even longer version of our chat on the BBC Sounds app searching there for the media show and click on subscribe that way you'll also get the much longer and to my mind stronger version of interview with Tony Hall thank you so much too Giles Aspen the studio engineer today and thank you for listening.

I'll be back sometime next.


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