Google exec headlines U.K. conference

Eric Schmidt will deliver keynote address

LONDON -- Google chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt will headline this year's Royal Television Society biennial Cambridge conference, delivering a keynote address by satellite to the U.K.'s leading broadcast executives, it was announced Thursday.

The two-yearly conference that runs Sept. 16 to 18, will be chaired by BBC director general Mark Thompson and held at King's College Cambridge.

The RTS convention is the U.K.'s highest-power media confab, running sessions, panels and keynotes aimed at progressing U.K. media policy.

This year's conference is to be titled "Riding Out the Storm" and will evaluate new business models and the changing patterns of entertainment consumption against the backdrop of an advertising recession.

Culture media and sport minister Ben Bradshaw will also deliver the customary government address at the conference.

The minister -- who was appointed just last month, will make his first appearance before U.K. broadcasting executives and will likely facing face questions about his hostile comments about BBC bosses earlier this week.

Bradshaw accused BBC director general Thompson and BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons of "poor leadership" and being "wrong-headed" in their strategic approach an interview in the Financial Times.

Other speakers will include Five chief executive Dawn Airey, FremantleMedia chief executive Tony Cohen, former BBC director general Greg Dyke, BSkyB COO Mike Darcey, opposition Conservative Party media spokesman Jeremy Hunt, and the BBC's Thompson.

"New technologies, new delivery systems and new audience behaviours present opportunities and challenges for every established content player around the world," said Thompson.

"Combine that with a rapid and steep fall in advertising revenue and the hunt for a viable business model that will work in the digital era, it becomes all the more urgent," he added, outlining the conference themes.

"In 'Riding Out the Storm', we'll explore how the British media industry can adapt to ensure itself a strong and vibrant future," he concluded.
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