Elisabeth Murdoch Confirmed for 2012 MacTaggart Lecture

9:01 AM PST 01/30/2012 by Mimi Turner
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

The Shine Group chairman and CEO will be the first woman to deliver the keynote speech in seventeen years.

LONDON – She’ll be the third member of her family to give the landmark MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival, and the second Murdoch to give the speech in four years.

Conference organizers confirmed Monday that Shine chairman and CEO Elisabeth Murdoch will deliver the Aug. 23 address which is widely regarded as the most important speech of the British broadcasting year.

Kenton Allen, the advisory chair of this year’s Festival - and the founding creative director of Shine when Murdoch launched the indie producer in 2001 -  said his former boss had a great insight into content creation.

“Elisabeth is one of the foremost creative leaders in our business and she promises to give us a fascinating  insight into what the future may hold for content creators,” he said.

“She is the first woman to give the MacTaggart in 17 years and will be the third member of the Murdoch family to give the speech.”

Elisabeth Murdoch’s MacTaggart will come four years after her younger brother James Murdoch used the same platform to make the now-famous assertion that” the only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of media independence is profit.” James went on to lambast the BBC for its “chilling” scale – in a speech that  fostered the political will to force the BBC to curtail its online ambitions and cut the cost of its operations.

In the wake of the phone-hacking and cover-up revelations at the News of The World last year, BBC director general Mark Thompson issued the pointed reprimand that the only "reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of profit was not profit, nor who you know, nor what corners you can cut. It's integrity."

Elisabeth Murdoch's speech will also come more than 20 years after her father Rupert Murdoch blasted the British media establishment and foretold the success of pay TV, long before many people believed that Sky would become the major force in British television that it has become.

But the announcement that she has been selected may also prove controversial, with revelations continuing to emerge about the scale of criminal activity at News International and the loss of credibility suffered by the Murdoch name in political and public circles.

Thus far Elisabeth has avoided becoming embroiled with the ongoing issues at News International, even renouncing a position on the News Corp. board following the $638 million sale of Shine Group to her father’s company.

But it is unlikely that she can avoid the subject altogether on such a high-profile platform – and at a Q&A session that will follow the speech.

Elaine Bedell, executive chair of this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival, insisted that Murdoch was “uniquely placed” to offer a “thoroughly well-connected appraisal of the many changes facing the media industry.”

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