Media

By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson

The free ride is coming to an end. Owners of media content, squeezed by a shrinking advertising market, piracy and aggregators building audiences from their stories, programmes and films, are looking for new ways to get paid for their efforts. In a week-long series starting today, the FT is looking a new at a sector many have left for dead. Amid the wreckage of an industry beset by a steep cyclical downturn and fundamental structural problems, answers are beginning to emerge about where media companies might find new opportunities for growth.
As publishers, broadcasters, games groups and social media upstarts alike redefine their businesses, common questions run through the sector: How can content re-establish its value? Will subscription, membership, e-commerce or micropayment models restore revenues or send consumers elsewhere? Should media owners charge for their content online, and how can they?

How can media companies best get paid for their content online? Leave your comments below and follow the series at www.ft.com/mediachallenge

Just when we thought the focus on Sir David Walker’s report would be pay, now the worry is about banks’ possibly making even more errors of judgment.

Richard Northedge questions whether there will be meddling by ‘amateur’ non-execs and investors, even if bankers can ‘get it wrong’ sometimes. Could they do more damage than Fred the Shred? But perhaps The Edge is right in questioning whether the Walker proposals might be made compulsory across all companies.  And he raises the issue of better training.

Channel 4′s John Snow has weighed into the debate as well, questioning whether banks can really change their greedy habits? Don’t hold your breath on getting more transparency, concludes the C4 news host.

Should London’s bankers be shaking in their boots – or watching their wallets – after the release of the Walker Review published this morning?

A large amount of attention has been paid to proposals on bankers’ remuneration, one of 39 recommendations in Sir David Walker’s report. Bonuses are once again in the headlines due to Goldman Sachs boosting the pay of its staff back to pre-boom levels.

Sir David, a former chairman of Morgan Stanley International, wants bank boards’ remuneration committees to take on far more work, scrutinising the pay of anyone who earns more than the average board-level executive.

The FT’s City editor Andrew Hill says that this move was a surprise with a tougher than expected constraint on bankers’ bonuses. The challenge, of course, remains whether any of these proposals will prevent another banking crisis.

Indeed, a push to disclose the pay and bonuses of City high-flyers dominated some discussion this morning on the FT’s Alphaville site, even before the report was published.

While hopes for greater transparency on the part of banks seems to be the gist of government and business reaction, the blogosphere needs convincing.

The BBC’s business editor Robert Peston questions whether banks can really change their habits. Indeed, some question whether a flurry of reports on banking will generate anything more than just comment.

Interestingly, another angle to be followed could be concerns that Sir David’s proposals will reduce the international competitiveness of the City. Sir David has tried to head this off already by saying ‘phooey‘ to such criticism.

Silvio Berlusconi was beaming by the  end of the day, clearly relieved  that the summit was going well and that world leaders had greeted him as an old friend. Gordon Brown even gave him a hug.

“This day has been payback for all the bitterness I have been through,” the prime minister said, cited by Agi news agency, referring to the “absurd attacks” on him in the media over his controversial private life of parties attended by call girls. “These days encourage me to go on,” he added.

“I am proud to have accomplished almost a miracle,” he was quoted as saying by Apicom.

Rumours were rife among Italian reporters that Mr Berlusconi would not deliver the press conference he had committed to because he was afraid of more questioning about his private life from the foreign media contingent. Aides suggested he might be too busy.

But in the end he spoke to a packed audience, delivering a resounding  speech on the accomplishments of the day. Finishing with a flourish, he looked down and said “Questions?” and before anyone could even mutter the world “scandal”, he thanked everyone and walked off.

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About the authors

Leyla Boulton is an editor on the FT's main newsdesk
Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson is the FT's media editor
Robin Harding is an FT correspondent in Tokyo
George Parker is the FT's political editor
Sean Smith is an editor on the FT's international companies desk

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