Edinburgh TV fest opts for Google topper

LONDON — Google topper Eric Schmidt will deliver this year’s MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh Intl. Television Festival.

It is highly unusual for the gabfest to give its flagship talk to someone who does not have a background in television.

Edinburgh’s past two MacTaggart speakers were Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, and News Corp. chief James Murdoch.

Schmidt, who recently stood down from the day-to-day running of the search engine giant to become its executive chairman, will be discussing how the TV industry can engage with new technologies.

He said: “It’s a great honor to be invited to give the MacTaggart lecture — the previous speakers are all incredibly impressive.

“I have always been a profound optimist about the potential for technology to improve people’s lives — though I am also a realist and understand it can be immensely disruptive in the process.

“So I look forward to discussing the opportunities and challenges ahead for the TV industry in Edinburgh.”

Added the gabfest’s advisory chair, acting head of BBC Vision George Entwistle: “Television was supposed to be dead and isn’t; on demand was supposed to have triumphed and hasn’t.

“It’s the perfect MacTaggart for an industry at the convergence crossroads, the chairman of Google will give us a steer on the way ahead that no-one can afford to miss.”

The MacTaggart lecture will take place on Aug. 26.

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