Global toppers to attend Brit TV confab

'Europe -- The New Battleground' will be Sept. 10 in London

LONDON — Incoming AOL Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons and Bertelsmann topper Thomas Middelhoff are among those participating in a high-profile industry confab on how international players can take advantage of the proposed relaxation of U.K. media ownership laws.

The Royal Television Society confab, called Europe — The New Battleground, will be held Sept. 10 in London.

It will address the role of Britain and Europe in the context of world media markets.

Besides Parsons and Middelhoff, confirmed speakers include Takeshi Natsumo, managing director of i-mode strategy at Japanese telco DoCoMo; U.K. government’s trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt; and British Telecom chairman Christopher Bland, former chairman of the BBC.

Hewitt and media secretary Tessa Jowell unveiled last week’s Communications Bill, which would allow U.S. companies to take control of British TV stations for the first time and paves the way for Rupert Murdoch to take a leading role in terrestrial TV.

“The RTS is the preeminent U.K. media forum and the 2002 conference will be the focal point for European and global players to address the new dynamics of the media market,” said Andy Bird, co-president of Turner Broadcasting Systems Intl. and chairman of the confab’s planning group.

“We will look at how a range of media companies are approaching the European marketplace, as well as exploring the challenges faced by new platforms and technologies and the companies exploiting them.

“I am delighted that Richard Parsons, Thomas Middelhoff and Takeshi Natsumo will give us the benefit of their international vision and experience. The new U.K. Communications Bill has heightened interest in the European market and we will invite other U.K. and world players to address the conference,” Bird said.