Entertainment Industry Top Executives to Hit Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Turner CEO John Martin, Vice Media CEO Shane Smith and AT&T Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey are among the speakers.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Turner CEO John Martin, Vice Media CEO Shane Smith and AT&T Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey are among the big-name media and entertainment industry executives featured at this year's edition of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.

Considered the world's largest event for the mobile industry, it is organized by the GSM Association, a trade body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, and has regularly featured a slew of announcements, keynote speeches, panel discussions and schmoozing events.

Past editions have featured such speakers as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and current Viacom CEO Bob Bakish. Last year, nearly 101,000 attendees from 204 countries and territories came to the Mobile World Congress, according to organizers.

Inaugurated in 1987, the event took place in Cannes up until 2006. Since then, it has been a fixture of the annual events calendar of Barcelona.

Key topics across keynotes and panel discussions this year are expected to include digital content, disruptive technologies, the Internet of Things and more. 

Hastings will give a keynote speech on Monday, which will also see a slew of panels, including one on the digital economy with Stankey who will represent telecom giant AT&T, which last year agreed to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion.

Time Warner will be represented in Barcelona by Turner boss Martin, who speaks on a panel entitled "The Content Gold Rush" on Tuesday. Also speaking on that panel will be Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine. The second conference day also will feature a panel on "Building the 5G Economy" with new FCC chairman Ajit Pai and Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries.

And Wednesday's program lineup includes a panel with Vice Media CEO Shane Smith and Discovery Networks International boss JB Perrette who will discuss the role mobile technology plays in modern events, such as the Olympics, from TV news, to fan engagement, crowd management, ticketing and security.

Another session that day, entitled "Acquire, Aggregate, Partner? Creating Value for Telcos in Content," will look at the growth potential that content presents for mobile operators. Tony Goncalves, Entertainment Group senior vp, strategy & business development/Otter Media at AT&T, will share his thoughts in a fireside chat before a panel, including Dan Reich, senior vp multiplatform products and strategy development at Viacom, chimes in on the topic.  

"The event is set to be one of the most varied and exciting ever, from the conference program to the exhibition to partner programs and more,” GSMA chief marketing officer Michael O’Hara said recently in previewing this year's edition. “Over the four days of Congress, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from the leaders that are driving innovation in mobile and experience the latest mobile developments first-hand. We look forward to welcoming the mobile world to Barcelona later this month.”

Among the new programs this year is Women4Tech, which will focus on gender diversity and equality in the mobile industry. And Snapchat will also have a key role at the event. "GSMA will run Snap Congress," the event's website says, describing it as "a fun competition on Snapchat that will give attendees the opportunity to be featured on the GSMA’s official daily Snapchat story from MWC."

The Mobile World Congress takes place at Barcelona's Fira Gran Via venue Monday through Thursday.