Industry needs to get together to create solutions

As the economic downturn continues to bite, the recession is shining a bright light on businesses of all types, especially media.

Steve Barrett, editor of Media Week
Steve Barrett, editor of Media Week

The Advertising Association yesterday released figures showing UK ad spend fell 9.6% year on year in Q4 2008. Across the whole of 2008, newspapers were down 12% year on year, magazines 9.9%, radio 8.5%, TV 4.9%, outdoor 3.8% and cinema 0.9%. Web spend was up 17.3% in 2008 compared to 2007, but this compares to a rise of 39.5% the previous year.

ITV's travails have been well-documented, regional newspaper groups slashed jobs last week, magazine firms such as NatMags and IPC are trimming their workforces and radio is struggling to prove private ownership is better than public (page 12). Media agencies are also reshaping their business models to reflect media's new structure.

Much of this is a normal and sensible reaction to recessionary times. The downturn isn't necessarily the cause of these realignments: rather it focuses minds on what businesses must look like when they come out of the slump. It forces us to deal with long-term structural changes that will make the media world look totally different to that which we have become accustomed.

Are newspapers dead? Will the ad market sustain commercial TV and other media? Can print specialists make money out of digital? What regulation do we need? How do young people consume media and what will they want when they gravitate to become the mass market?

All of these questions and more top our thoughts, all in the context of a severe economic downturn that makes answers more urgent than usual.

We need to get together as an industry to address the important issues that will shape the future. Media Week's annual Media 360 summit takes place in Old Windsor from 13-15 May. I believe it will benefit us all to engage as a community and come up with solutions. Yes, I know this is a commercial venture on Media Week's part. And I know everyone's budgets are tight. But can we afford not to? Let me know your thoughts. Or visit www.media-360.co.uk for booking details.

Steve Barrett is editor of Media Week, steve.barrett@haymarket.com, www.mediaweek.co.uk/stevebarrettblog

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