Elisabeth Murdoch, Netflix's Ted Sarandos to Headline Edinburgh International Television Festival
LONDON -- Elisabeth Murdoch, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos and Modern Family co-creator and executive producer Steve Levitan are some of the big names scheduled to attend the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival in the Scottish capital that kicks off on Thursday.
Murdoch, daughter of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and chairman of the conglomerate's production shingle Shine, will give the festival's James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture on Thursday evening, one of the annual highlights of the industry gathering.
Not even organizers know the contents of the speech ahead of time, which was one of the reasons why Murdoch son and News Corp. deputy COO James Murdoch, then CEO, Europe and Asia and News Corp.'s top representative at BSkyB, caused some strong reactions when he delivered the lecture in 2009 and attacked U.K. media regulators and the BBC and the license fee it gets from taxpayers, among other things.
Liz Murdoch, who has a reputation for championing creativity and collaboration, including with the BBC via Shine, is expected to be asked about her current and possible future role at News Corp., where plans had called for her addition to the conglomerate's board, and possibly even her relationship with family members.
Last year, Google chairman Eric Schmidt gave the MacTaggart Lecture, and in 2010, outgoing BBC director general Mark Thompson delivered it.
Sarandos, meanwhile, is giving the festival's so-called Futureview Address on Thursday. He is expected to discuss the online streaming giant's original programming strategy, its international expansion, including in the U.K. and Ireland where the company just announced that it has crossed the 1 million subscriber milestone, European competition like Amazon.com's LoveFilm and other topics.
"What do Ted and the Netflix team plan for the UK market?" the festival's web site says in its description of the session. "And how will they tackle the ongoing challenges of the U.S. market?"
Levitan is presenting "Modern Family: A Masterclass" on Friday. Ahead of the hit show's fourth U.S. season, he will discuss the creative process and his comedy influences.
Levitan has already arrived in the U.K. "In London," he tweeted Wednesday afternoon. "Off to a small reception at 10 Downing to meet w Prime Minister Cameron. Another 'I can't believe this is my life" moment.' "
Other Edinburgh sessions will focus on U.K. hit series Sherlock, a panel that will discuss the challenges facing incoming BBC director general George Entwistle and this fall's Saturday night ratings showdown between the BBC, which is bringing back Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing, and ITV, which last weekend brought back The X Factor.
The Edinburgh TV festival was established in 1976 and is attended by more than 2,000 industry representatives.