Nigel Sharrocks: TV industry needs to better retain homegrown talent

Nigel Sharrocks: TV industry needs to better retain homegrown talent
Sharrocks (left) and Grimmer
The Media Leader Summit 2024

Nigel Sharrocks, chair of Digital Cinema Media and Barb, has warned of the need to better retain UK talent in the TV industry.

At a discussion at The Media Leader Summit, Sharrocks suggested that major US-based entertainment and streaming companies like Netflix have been siphoning the most talented TV executives.

He asked the audience: “Is that what we want for our TV industry?”

To this end, Sharrocks — who worked for Warner Bros in the 2000s and led Aegis Media and later Dentsu Aegis, among other leadership roles — argued in favour of the BBC, due to its ability to develop and maintain homegrown talent, while its editorial independence helps to identify and create quality content.

“There has never been a more important time for the BBC licence fee,” he said.

Sharing his experience working at US companies, Sharrocks said “your job is to make your boss look good” — whereas he described a UK culture of worrying about success or failure in relation to “what will my people say?”.

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Sharrocks was speaking with Greg Grimmer, CEO of Adwanted UK, parent of The Media Leader, in a wide-ranging conversation encompassing Sharrocks’ career and his thoughts on leadership, AI and the state of advertising today.

During a discussion about AI, Sharrocks drew murmurs and a loud “Agreed!” from the crowd at one point after decrying the contemporary quality of television advertising.

He stated: “When I watch television now, the standard of advertising, to my eyes, is terrible. Terrible! There’s got to be some way through that.”

One hurdle to improving the quality of ads, according to Sharrocks, is the lack of standardised commercial breaks in streaming services’ ad plans, putting creative at a disadvantage when it interrupts the viewing experience too abruptly.

That said, while conceding that using AI will “certainly be a challenge for the broader industry”, Sharrocks pondered whether it could actually help bring about a solution by unlocking more options for the current generation of creatives.

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