MIPCOM: Sky CEO Talks Climate Change

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch
Courtesy of Getty Images

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch

"It is difficult, running an impartial news, service to get that balance right," he said about Sky News.

Jeremy Darroch, the CEO of European pay TV giant Sky Group, owned by Comcast, called on the media and entertainment industry to work together to make progress on fighting climate change and addressed how he sees the company's role in that context.

Asked about covering climate change via Sky News, Darroch said: "It’s our job … to really look at the breadth of the science, the most reliable sources, the evidence that is right around us every day. It is difficult, running an impartial news service, to get that balance right, but I think we have to be cautious about just arguing every element of the spectrum and giving every piece of that the same degree of air time when the science is very, very robust and the facts are increasingly clear. But that’s one of the great things that Sky News is so good at: laying that out, explaining it."

In accepting the newly created Sustainable Development Goals Award during a virtual session at MIPCOM on Tuesday, Darroch argued that Sky News was a "very powerful asset" that can help explain trends and what needs to be done.

Darroch said that as "a big media company" Sky has a key advantage in doing so. "We reach hundreds of millions of people every month, we’ve got a direct relationship with customers in all of the markets in which we compete, so that’s about how do we, either through our programming or through the work that we do as business, really bring these issues to life," he said. "I think big businesses have got a real responsibility to lead the way."

Sky went carbon neutral in 2006 and earlier this year unveiled its plan to turn "net zero carbon" by 2030. That means Sky will cut the emissions created by its own business operations, people using its products and suppliers around the world.

The Sky boss also addressed how sector companies can help each other when it comes to climate change issues. "If we keep learning from each other ... hopefully we’ll all be able to accelerate our own journey and change, and as an industry, as well as individual companies, have a real impact on the battle for the climate, and the battle for the environment, which we know is so critical," he said.

Asked whether there is enough time to avoid a climate catastrophe, Darroch said: "There’s always enough time if you start right now, and the job is to start right now and to make sure that our intervention is very decisive. But I am optimistic. You’ve got to set difficult targets, and then use those as an inspiration for others to get involved."

Discussing how Sky sees its role in addressing environmental and climate issues, the CEO explained: "Taking action more broadly has become such a core part of who we are and what we do as a business, and I think it’s one of the areas we’re all most proud about because it feels like we’re making a bigger impact in one of the most critical issues, if not the most critical issue that we’re all going to face over the next generation."

Has the coronavirus pandemic had an impact on Sky's work in fighting climate change? "On the ambitions, it hasn’t impacted them at all, if anything I think it’s reminded us how important they are," Darroch replied. "One of the things it seems to me in a post-COVID world is all of the responses we’re going to see in pretty much every economy I imagine around the world, certainly developed economies, is going to be a huge amount of public investment and much of that investment will go into infrastructure. And there’s this great opportunity, this unique opportunity, of our time to build an infrastructure in a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable way, and to use that to create new jobs and new opportunities for those people who are going to be affected by climate change."

The Sky CEO also said management teams must not be sidetracked from their climate work amid the pandemic. "It’s really important I think at this time that businesses don’t lose their nerve, they stay focused on the bigger picture, and they make sure either individually in their own actions at the sectoral level for their industry and then as they think about impacting policymakers and governments, that we have a clear-sighted view on sustainable recovery, a green economy and new infrastructure; because that’s the thing that’s going to really drive and accelerate the change," he said. "This is a time for leadership."