BBC's Thompson to give Edinburgh keynote

Director general to deliver MacTaggart lecture on Aug. 27

LONDON -- BBC director general Mark Thompson will answer his critics and scope out the BBC's future when he delivers the MacTaggart lecture at this year's MediaGuardian Edinburgh Television Festival Aug. 27.

Thompson, who has spent the past year defending the pubcaster from the threat of financing cuts and from criticism that it has become too big and powerful, will outline the BBC's range and priorities following a root-and-branch internal strategic review that is due to report later this summer.

Whichever political party wins the British general election on May 6, the next government is likely to mean significant change for the BBC, which receives over £3.5 billion ($5.3 billion) in annual funding from viewers.

Amid a culture of public spending cuts, executive pay will likely continue to come under pressure from both parties, while David Cameron's Conservative Party has said it will scrap the BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, should the Conservatives form the next administration.

"Edinburgh is the first stop on the media calendar following the general election, and the MacTaggart will once again set the agenda for the weekend," said Deborah Turness, 2010 MGEITF advisory chair and editor of ITV News, said,

"In what promises to be a pivotal year for the BBC, I am delighted that Mark has agreed to share his vision with the Edinburgh audience," she added.

The event will also give Thompson a chance to respond to criticism from last's year's MacTaggart speaker, News Corp. Europe and Asia chairman and chief executive James Murdoch, who told delegates that profit was the only measure of quality media and that the BBC was "chilling" in its scale.

Thompson, who delivered the MacTaggart as chief executive of Channel 4 in 2002 will be one of only a handful of executives to deliver the landmark speech twice in his career. Previous MacTaggart speakers include James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch, David Liddiment, Charles Allen and Peter Fincham.

The MacTaggart kicks off the four-day conference of keynotes, panels, screenings and workshops that take the annual temperature of the U.K. broadcasting industry.
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