James Murdoch to address Edinburgh TV fest

News Corp. executive to deliver MacTaggart lecture

LONDON -- Twenty years after father Rupert Murdoch took on a hostile audience in the same venue, James Murdoch will take the stage at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, delivering his first major speech since assuming oversight of News Corp.'s print, TV and new media interests across two continents.

The News Corp. Europe and Asia chairman and chief executive, who has kept a relatively low profile since stepping into the senior role in 2007, has been tapped to give this year's MacTaggart Lecture, widely regarded as one of the key agenda-setting speeches of the U.K. broadcasting calendar.

During the past year, Murdoch has overseen the expansion of high-def services at BSkyB, the wholescale shake-up of German platform Premiere and the growth of Italian pay TV operator Sky Italia.

The former BSkyB and STAR Asia boss also has put forward a strategy of editorial investment across News Corp.'s newspaper business, citing the digital shake-up currently ravaging the industry as an opportunity for those proprietors prepared to up their editorial resources rather than slash them.

"I actually think the newspaper business is one of the great opportunities for innovation in modern media," he told the Monaco Media forum last year.

Murdoch, a techno-geek and environmental campaigner, could also outline his green philosophy, which led to BSkyB becoming the first major media company to become carbon neutral, a commitment that has been extended to News Corp. as a whole.

Elaine Bedell, 2009 MGEITF advisory chair and director of entertainment and comedy at ITV, called Murdoch an excellent choice to deliver the MacTaggart lecture.

"He has a unique perspective on our industry, having worked across television, publishing and digital businesses worldwide, and he'll be able to provide festival delegates with very welcome insights on a global media industry which is currently undergoing crisis and evolution," she said.

The festival runs Aug. 27-30.