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Microsoft v The Regulator…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hello, this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 today maybe the biggest Media deal of the Year Microsoft is looking to buy one of the world's leading games producers for 60 billion, but UK regulators have questions about that detailed story in a minute.

Also as news organisations cover the cost of living crisis will explore this appointment journalism shifts from reporting and explaining to basically offering advice and if that is happening is it a problem with the BBC's pysal Islam on that first last night distressed cabinet appointments came thick and fast what was Michelle donelan? Who's the new culture secretary Sebastian Payne was in Downing Street yesterday is Liz truss began her time as prime minister covers British politics for the ft.

Has the best you could have you.

You show tell us about the new culture secretary by trying to take on a sea is kind of lettuce whoculture is the kind of language you would have heard from Nadine dorries the outgoing culture secretary and I think Michelle donelan was chosen for exactly the same reasons that before she went department for culture media and sport she was education and she was out on the forefront of pushing through the higher education Bill that was put on free speech on campus so I think she was putting that department with you take on these cultural issues in a big way and I guess on the two key things and her desk number one is Channel 4 privatisation she's not said too much about that so fine public but I will be very surprised delicious government was out from that and a second of course the future of the BBC and McDonald did tell her local newspapers in 2019.

She thought the licence they should not exist now.

I don't think that mean she's going to come.

Change the settlement it does give you a good idea of the council directory.

She's going to be on and what about the prime minister.

What is she said about for example Channel 4 privatisation because presumably culture PC is not sent only by the Secretary but also by the prime minister Above with mistrust I can do in the leadership contest actually said she would continue the government current ejector in terms of the privatisation of Channel 4 as did Rishi Sunak so they'll be any changes that it would not be just as ideology to change detected on that particular thing with regards to the BBC this is a formal logical conservative the Boris Johnson wasn't even though it was quite a writer spend to their cultural policies.

I think there's just will continue that but I doubt she'll go further so in with regards to media business as it was before are you staying with the Sebastian thank you.

That's brilliant Jason Kingsley he is co-founder and CEO of the British video game developer rebellion no Jason I just looked up the UK gaming sector is worth over.

7 billion pounds to the UK economy, so it is hugely important.

You are sure have plenty of dealings with the department for culture media and sport does it frustrate you the having to get to know another culture secretary because there's been quite fast turnover in this role.

I think it's always slightly frustrating with when you build a relationship with somebody as a working relationship and then they change your they go to this new at the same time is also an opportunity to get to know somebody else to educate them about the games industry, because there's a lot of education needed about how big and Powerful computer games are these days and and yellow sometimes new bosses bring new ideas, so I'm I'm excited but a little bit a little bit nervous about how that will happen ok.


We'll see how it goes out with the new government in PlayStation you're staying with us to talk about this big gaming deals on Microsoft's involved in but for the next few minutes on the media show we're going to talk about the cost of living crisis because of course it's deepening with.

Approaching we expecting details of Liz truss as planned to combat it very soon and as the crisis evolved there are questions about whether the news media has the skill set to understand and play The Story of the scale and complexity was bringing Sarah Leicester who's editor of The Manchester Evening News as well as me after find bullet chief executive of the thinktank the new Economics Foundation and Holly the BBC Economics editor Faisal Islam welcome to all of you, let's begin with you.

How do you assess how the news media has gone about explaining what's happening with the sector? I think what the media done.

Very well is explain the scale of the problem that we face.

I think it is very hard to get into the complexity of the energy market.

So if you like carative is one that says war in Ukraine Putin bad and that's why I was singing energy crisis, which negates the fact they were big structure problems with the energy market anyway that we already.

Pinch points before this all came about and what that does that when you come to Solutions which are very hard to explain in very simple soundbite ways you can get to solution price freeze very clear to understand, but that doesn't necessarily unpick what that means for a sector that is fundamentally broken that is very dysfunctional that has never worked for us that must be dealt with part of whatever the government does not bring in your wrestling with this every day as you do you report for the Today programme for the 6 and 10 news another BBC outlets.

How do you go about taking these huge complexes using them down one of the key issues is that is the energy sits at the centre of a web of other stories geopolitics diploma Economic and fiscal policy basic politics and I'm picking that where is really important so the complexity and the structure of the regulation of the energy market I mean.

Words in I can see you know tradition if you will find it incredibly boring that sentence right but in that and the way that interacts with his massive political shifts of the world's biggest energy exporter invading the world's the world's biggest food exporters.

You have a tremendous amount of complexity to unpick and you know any of our route to market in terms of journalism are 2 to 3 minutes long 5 minutes long if you're lucky, you can't possibly explain all of the parameters and all of the moving parts that are going to affect people just part of our job though to caravan pack that and to try to come up with the essential information that people need to know but I'm struggling always conscious of the fact that even the very basics the public sometimes need the handheld little so for example the energy price cap well.

It's proven now the most.

May have presumed that would be a cap on their energy prices will that hasn't proven to be so and frankly it is not it is a cap on the unit price of energy and it may not and it has not and will not affect or limit how much you actually end up paying through your direct debits.

There's a tremendous hunger for information from the public.

We're finding you know questions like you know I signed up to renewable.

Only energy provider.

Why am I now being charged the gas price is all very reasonable questions the answer lies in a deeply complicated regulatory system and added to geopolitical complexity.

We it's absolutely our job to try and explain that and get across the public and Sarah how are you going about this as you put your paper together every day for me as you want to know how this is impacting their lives in Manchester and the area around Manchester but you also need to take on his macro issues that the other and Thistle have talked about.

Yeah, I think cos we're much closer to our Communities and communities.

We serve this has been an issue for a lot longer than it might been felt elsewhere so from probably sort of January we start to think about cost of living in a particular way, we set up a video with set up a unit just a focus on cost of living content and splits into several streams of content.

This is all digital content on talking about the website.

We have a weekly vox pop where you go to different part of Greater Manchester and people getting stuck much really telling it's the in January it might take 3-4 hours to get enough people to tell you about what we were dealing with last week it took about 50 minutes weekly we used data from reach data unit which pics of particular Ward maybe you somewhere.

That's hi-fi poverty or something like that, so we done that w.

Contact with really Halloween conversations reporter chatted to a mum who was sat on a park bench.

She ended up telling us how she was writing a house with candles, so you've got the kind of human toll side of it and then you got informational content and the way we look at it.

Is you want to be useful so from March this year every weekend with producing look at 8 staple foods across all the supermarkets and where that weekend you can get them cheapest.

It's not so useful information and will do stuff like cheapest.

You can get them.

That is a real department we did an addition to that is such content so if from about July onwards, we saw a real surge in people looking turns around DWP cost of living particular energy brands and we started to provide content that said that need.

So this is interesting you're not just reporting what's happening, but you're also providing information.

That is useful to help your reader's navigate what's happening at the ft Sebastian feeling obligation to do both report but also offer advice trying to cover the cost of living crisis over the past summer has been a very frustrating experience from a political point of view is the one question our readers bday people work in the city of London who focus on markets or a trade as on the economy, or just general public professional they want to know what Earth the government going to do an essentially spent 6-weeks bang your head against the wall trying to find out from the leadership campaigns of Rishi Sunak and it's just what they were going to do but in terms of offering financial advice to people have caused the ft has personal finance columns in his off and Mark finance editor Claire Barratt does an excellent piece every Saturday guiding through this now think she's on a very good of putting into context because the idea of what I say.

* we do it it's not just the person whose dealing in markets and trading a lot of them are ordinary professionals white-collar workers civil servants and people like that who are being dragged into this crisis device to know how do you view this as you report not just in your time of the BBC with in previous journalism jobs as well.

Have you been ever asked to give advice on there and would you will constantly asked to give advice to people that we meet and it's it's we can all people with information.

That's our job.

We can't get into Personal Finance advise.

It would be the wrong thing to do although it would do quite well.

I think in terms of people seem to want that sort of thing but there's a massive risk of course we don't want to be responsible for people's personal finance decisions we can give factual information particularly when you get the big.

That could help like the furlough scheme.

There's a big job to be done to explain what was going on there, but also works the other way and as the Sarah explaining your sometimes what you're finding now with a bottom-up crisis that staffs almost off in the household and then becomes economic data a couple of weeks couple of months later is find out what's going on with judicious on-the-ground reporting you find extraordinary case studies and Sarah talks about looking at the areas that index higher for poverty actually you know I think one of the defining characteristics that was seeing and was seeing right now.

Is that it's reaching up into average incomes and beyond and so when you see go to a food Pantry or a food bank and you see strange things which are not friends anymore like people that you donate becoming recipients of food at people from Gillingham working house.

Grosvenor own veg something's going on here and that's a crucial part of our job is also reflect backwards.

You don't remember 12-13 years ago during the crisis a different Channel 4 now.

I asked her presents.

Just don't do on the very day.

It was all falling apart.

So just don't ask me the question.

Shall we take all my money out of said bank that was on the verge of collapse because really it's it's not a roller when he did end up asking that question because it's the last thing I put in his head and Johnstone's name the my life flashed before responsibility, but what if the reassurances I've been given as a journalist on correct with an exaggerated.

What if he acts as a journalist reassuring someone because they don't look at me causes the opposite.

The interaction between two people wanting you do want to be you want to reassure where you can you don't want to set too much of a doom-laden town but you need to be realistic as well about what's going on and let's bring you in here.

I wonder if you're watching the news coverage of this living crisis.

Whether you want.

Not just the details of how difficult it is and how bad it is frankly for some families as has Sarah advice.

Love just been describing.

Do you also one more day on the way out of this? Do you want journalist to say will this looks like the best route in organisation that we're in the market of ideas within the market Solutions and actually having about Solutions in the media is really really hard.

I think there is a very good job of sort of setting out what the problem is and the complexity and the scale of the problem and particularly the Aspect that brings in the human side of things.

The important because it resonates but at least people feel hopeless at least people feeling that with facing big structural problems when they are not on chances and one of my frustration often is there are often on some there are Solutions but we tend to Narrow the conversation around Solutions and it's obvious often determined by the government of the day and a salt solution as they think are possible and I think there is a possibility for journalist open the Overton window and say that there are options here and sometimes are political parties and political choices that might constrain the options, but that doesn't mean that they're all things are possible and looking to other countries and looking to other types of alternatives.

I think they're really important part of the debate not least because they give people hope I want to ask at the Manchester Evening News about that in a moment but Sebastian just come to you because you're right in The Thick of things in Westminster do you think that the main options that are discussed when it comes to this crisis tend to be just simply what the main political parties are offering rather than what my actually be the best.

Well, they speak in the evening before and Liz truss announces her big package on this and all the indications are it's going to be almost carbon.

Copy of what the Labour Party put forward and I think for me that was actually the coronavirus pandemic because you went for my period but everything was about austerity balancing the books debt and then suddenly got a conservative chance to spend 400 billion pounds but the point I want you to really get into his is the media to focus on well labour says there's the Liberal Democrats say that and the Conservatives say that those are three options should the join this be doing more as we are suggesting to actually beyond what the political parties are saying in make it their audiences of where there are more options still well.

I think that's something that we do try and do it the Financial Times I can't be for all newspapers here and I'm sure there are some Journey to focus on the tit-for-tat between the two parties here, but you know we have opinion pages that take this is my cross the spectrum from different thing times from the left and from the right of course some international jobs.

Well, he will also look at those kind of solution within Westminster there is an over to mine now that the actor was talking about which tend to be defined by the Tories On The Rise and labour on the left and all the idea that spectrum but of course you have other things emergency obviously had UKIP which came for which was more conservative ideas before the brexit referendum and they got hearing your voice in the liberal Democrat and also party as well, so the fact of the way of politics has become increasingly fragmented and it has created a space for more and different ideas.

Do we need to do more to look at it ideas? Yes at that we can always do just listen to what the main parties do I would reject the idea that way just taking press releases from labour party HQ conservative party HQ and letting are we decide which one is right.

That's how they have he's going about this the editor of The Manchester Evening News you've already shared some of the very difficult stories that your hearing from your readers and that you're passing on to your reader's.

How do you?

Challenge of not just reporting that accurately but also to me as point offering your readers some hope so rude out of the situation there in Britain a lot about how the national policies impacting particularly in areas like the North whether additional challenges with also looked at our local handling it but in terms of informational content we found that the most useful thing for us to do is to provide answers to the questions the reason so that is often about directing them to the places.

They can go to save money explaining the different government policies and what it means for them and also using it.

We've got we've got a fantastic parenting editor and she will guide people where to get cheap school shoes and this is a sort of content that is new for us and he's been laptop and people reading the drives.

Is 1000 because is useful it helps and live their lives and would put that thank you very much indeed for joining us to the left of the editor of Manchester Evening News thanks as well and pain from the ft Antonia to Farnborough from the thinktank the new Economics Foundation never got talk about gaming and my so you're staying with us because I learnt something today apparently used to write a gaming beaver saying a lot along a long time ago.

I wrote but like you're deejaying column for the Observer the launch of the launch PlayStation was I went out to Japan an interview the father of the PlayStation in will been 2001 alright.

Sad is that is a while back and I guess what was incredible was that was the moment it was going from neish.

I think so Leo had placed these machines inside nightclubs and they would conscious.

To try make it well mainstream and it obviously completely rocket it from there.

I think we can safely say that went well because gaming deal that is worth 6 billion.

This is Microsoft seeking to buy at the games producer Activision Blizzard just put that in contact the furlough scheme during covid cost 70 billion, so not much more and Jason Kingsley from the video game developer rebellion festival Louise Shorthouse us senior games analyst at the consultants a analysis help us out on this deal.

How did it come about and why is my pain such a premium here so it but I feel like now.

It's even more important.

So be the rise of things like games subscription services and also I didn't contact you two very different platforms having multi-platform Khan

It's become even more important to own that consent to be able to do with it as you please and so by acquiring Activision Blizzard Microsoft is owning a lot of really high pro, how big name franchises like Call of Duty World of Warcraft even Candy Crush that really are spread across multiple platforms and the fact that Microsoft would be owning those games is causing some Jason Kingsley let's bring it back in your developer rebellion is behind Sniper Elite which listeners may well.

I've tried to employ 500 people you based in Oxfordshire let me just read you the concerns of the competition and markets authority here in the UK on this they say they're concerned that Microsoft could use its control over popular games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft post-merger to harm rivals in multi game subscription services and cloud gaming in other words this game this deal could mean few of us get to play these games.

Are you worried about that?

Well, where is independent game developer? We we put all the games like Sniper Elite on on every platform.

We can get you want as many shop windows as possible.

I suppose it's a little bit like own brand biscuits in supermarkets.

They want to encourage people to their wall garden in their subscription service and therefore creating the best content possible is the objective Netflix have their own limited.

They make their own gain their very own TV shows and films that are only available on NetFlix because people want people to subscribe to Netflix so I think it's sort of a natural outcome of have a shift from buying boxes of product which I think will still keep going to paying regularly for a subscription and a great thing about games if you can get hundreds of hours of entertainment out of one really good game so I think for the consumer that probably really good value for the amount of hours of entertainment you can get.

Is it possible direction of travel with the Walled Garden approaches to describe it, but here's a Microsoft statement saying we're ready to work with the competition and markets authority.

They go on to say we want people to have more access to not let so it doesn't sound like their strategy is to to ring fence these games only on certain platforms.

He doesn't know I mean if they say that officially they know pretty sure you can you not realise that they are very technically savvy and a very good business people, so they know what they're doing having said that the competitors have their own restricted content content that's available on PlayStation 4 as well as an interesting area where the game might come out first on one platform and then come out on everything else later so in effect you're paying for with a premium subscription is your came for early access to the same game.

I think it's quite a technical but technical issue actually for the consumer authorities to look at.

You was a games developer with a hit like Sniper Elite on your hands if someone came along and said we're going to give you an awful.

Lot of money, but in exchange this game is only going to be available on one platform will be ok with you.


It would depend on the business deal and I have to say we have done that so we we released one of the army on the epic store first they bought her a window of opportunity for a window of one year before it's released on other platforms and it made economic sense for us the was a bit of a bad the consumer as you can imagine people disappointed.

They can't get it on their favourite system so I can understand absolutely understand why people might be frustrated by that and I can understand why the consumer authorities are going is this anti-competitive or not? Well, I think it's quite nuanced the CMA and Microsoft sound like they're going to be having some some conversations both sides of said they they want to talk about.

Is Emma Louise hope you understand the state of the gaming industry more broadly evidently Microsoft is sinking a huge amount of money into it here, but I'm just looking recent stats in the US show revenue going up 30% overall since 2019, but they've dropped over 10% in the last year perhaps due to the fact that normal life is resumed after covid.

What's your analysis of the the state of the Union the degree to which it can continue to expand industry is obviously huge.

I mean it's bigger than music and box office combined.

It's bigger than the subscription video on demand industry as well, and I think you definitely been some kind of calmed down since the pandemic.

We saw an enormous lift across virtually all platforms during the pandemic and so that does have to come down a bit but I think mainly what we seeing is consumer spending a lot of time playing games, but they're perhaps not spending as much money perhaps because then.

Half as much then on you know going shopping.

I'm not going to the cinema things like that so said they're staying at home and actually that means that the games industry is relatively well insulated from macro economic turbulence outside and I'm just finished Jason by asking you about your experience working with Google because the last time you are on the media.

Show we talked about a deal that rebellion have done with Google with an effort to to move into gaming with your help.

How was that big tech giant obviously but they understand the gaming world.

I think they I think I understand it, but I don't think it was a successful as they hoped but with Google a lot of these experiments inform their next move so seems really interesting that was the idea of streaming content rather than rather than downloading the whole game which takes a lot of bandwidth you they you could you could you could play it remotely so you can instantly play the game on your iPhone and it's

Early early adoption I don't think it's taken off in a huge way, but I think it's really important component of the future of the gaming experience but you will be able to Mystic about Microsoft being able to work with Activision to make this process.

I I I don't really know I do know lots of people that work at both organise a very talented very passionate at making games so I don't think they'll be doing this with a view to messing with what the consumer gets.

I think the idea is to produce of really really great content but people as possible, but maybe hierarchy wanted as a strategic move great to talk to you about 1/32 and 5 so I just before you go you still playing games or have you not got time for that anymore no Time For That occasionally have a go at Scrabble go if I have got a spare 5-minutes, but I wish they could play that off line.

Thank you very much indeed.

Thanks to Sarah Leicester Sebastian

Jason Kingsley and Louise Shorthouse do you remember you can always listen back to editions of the media show via a podcast which you can find on the BBC Sounds app for this edition.

Thanks for listening.

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