RTS: NBC Universal leader warns high-speed broadband has created 'a bit of a warzone'

High-speed broadband connections emerging around the world have created a "pretty distressing outlook" for the media business, according to Peter Smith, president of NBC Universal International.

Warning: NBC chief warns of consequences of high-speed internet links
Warning: NBC chief warns of consequences of high-speed internet links

Speaking at the Royal Television Society International Television Festival today (28 September), Smith said that fast-speed connections had created "a bit of a warzone" for NBC in South Korea.

He went on to highlight the transformation broadband had brought to the telecoms and broadcasting landscape, noting "47% of Koreans on a weekly basis download a movie for free illegally, so as a result of that, our DVD business, worth one billion dollars 12 years ago, is now worth 16 million, so that business is now gone."

He said that high-speed internet connections had also meant that NBC's TV business had declined in the region, with cable revenues so low that providers were unable to pay a premium price for content.

Smith, who has direct operational responsibility for international TV distribution, warned that while there were "lots of communication benefits" to plans outlined by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt today around developing broadband connectivity in the UK, the government also had to "double down" on tackling piracy.

Speaking on the same panel as Smith, Francesco Caio, vice-chairman of investment bank Nomura, agreed on the need for the UK government to tightly regulate broadband infrastructure.

Caio said: "I would re-emphasise that the government must have a more structured monitoring system, where to generate an increasing awareness of how the country is evolving."

Smith has been president of NBC Universal International since September 2006. He reports directly to Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive of NBC Universal.

Based in London, Smith is responsible for spearheading international business growth opportunities for NBC Universal, in partnership with key leaders in each business.

His role is focused on better leveraging NBCU's existing international business by coordinating efforts across all of the company's divisions to build growth, scale and synergies.

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