Marcus Rich gives opening address at PPA Festival 2019

Louisa Cavell

Read PPA Chairman and TI Media CEO Marcus Rich's opening address at PPA Festival 2019

Thank you very much Owen, and welcome one and all to the PPA Festival 2019 here at Tobacco Dock. 

As Owen says, we have a terrific show lined up for you today, so do please go and explore all four stages and get to hear as many of our 80-plus speakers as you can. This is the biggest day in the calendar for magazine media in all its many modern varieties, and we really do have a host of incredibly useful case studies and takeaways for you here today. 

It is fantastic to see ALL of our members, from ALL sides - consumer and B2B, big and small, global and independent - here today. The more we stick together the stronger we are, and, as the voice of our industry the PPA is the embodiment of that strength. The growing importance of our sector, at the very heart of the creative industries, is demonstrated by our first speaker here today – Jeremy Wright MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. 

The PPA is the place where our  industry really does come together, to network and to share knowledge as we are doing here today, to celebrate our fantastic success stories as we will be doing once again at The PPA Awards on June 19, and of course to advance our common interests with government and with other key stakeholders.  

Since we last gathered here for the PPA Festival one year ago this week, we have seen the relentless pace of change in our industry continue at an unparalleled rate. Today we look to change the conversation itself, away from any lingering talk of declining outdated business models, and towards an incredibly exciting future. 

Bill Gates coined the phrase “Content is King”; but I saw one recently which said “Content isn’t King, it’s the Kingdom”. 

As many content owners look to go direct to the consumer, we are all united by being great content creators; we should cherish it and the unique relationship it has with our customers. 

Because we all KNOW the challenges faced by traditional media business models, and we are all adapting in our own way to meet these challenges. And, as we deepen our engagement with our audiences, we are finding exciting and innovative ways to monetise those audiences and to transform those loyal readers into loyal customers of everything they trust us to provide for them. About which I am sure we will be hearing a lot more as the day goes on. 

Earlier this year we saw the publication of The Cairncross Review: a Government- commissioned independent report. When I stood on this stage last year, I welcomed the Review, which had just been announced, and I am happy to say here today that as an industry we can now welcome many of its recommendations. 

Notably, the report backs PPA calls for action to support publishers as we evolve our business models, and to ensure a level playing field for us to compete in the digital age. This comes as The Furman Review calls for new competition rules to govern online markets, and the Government White Paper on Online Harms sets up a bold approach to regulation and online safety. 

Dame Frances Cairncross will be speaking on this very stage later this afternoon, and I am sure that the Secretary of State will touch upon the importance of her work and these interlocking government workstreams in his address in just a few moments time. 

Importantly, The Cairncross Review was but the latest independent study to back our campaign to Axe The Reading Tax. It is absurd ladies and gentlemen that our content is treated differently by the taxman based solely on the delivery platform, and it is now high time that the Government extended the VAT zero-rate to digital publications. Jeremy, we would be very happy for you to take this key message back from today’s PPA Festival to your colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer! 

Meanwhile, in Europe - and no doubt Brexit will be mentioned more than once as the day goes on - we have seen important new legislation passed in just the last few weeks to modernise the whole copyright system. 

This is very welcome news indeed, and comes after years of hard work from the PPA and others to deliver a package of reforms fit for the digital age. WHATEVER happens with Brexit, the UK should now implement the Copyright Directive, and the PPA looks forward to working with the Government to ensure that these reforms are implemented in a way that allows those of us who have invested in the creation of news, insight and entertainment to fairly monetise that content in the digital world.

Let’s also remember as we gather here today that magazine media in the round, based on the latest PAMCo AMP figures, is actually thriving like never before, and that marketeers trying to build brands for their clients ignore this at their peril. Something that again I am sure we will be hearing a lot more about shortly from Magnetic CEO Sue Todd as she looks back on their brilliant Pay Attention campaign which proved beyond doubt the unique and deep and trusting relationship that our brands enjoy with our consumers. 

As well as continuing to promote our sector through world-class measurement and marketing campaigns, we are also very proud to be a key part of IPSO, the independent self-regulatory industry body, through which we continue to stand up to fake news through our robust editorial standards, and again thank you to all those of you who are now sporting this badge of trust in your various products and brands. 

Finally from me, I would like to thank Barry, Owen, Hannah, and all the team at PPA HQ for the work they do on all our behalf. They do a terrific job for our entire industry, not least in putting on this spectacular show for us, and I thank them and I urge you to make the most of it here today. 

This is my second and final PPA Festival as your Chairman, as I will be having the reins over at the end of the year to our current Deputy Chairman, Immediate Media CEO Tom Bureau. I am sure that like me Tom will find it a great honour and a privilege to lead and to serve this wonderful industry, and I wish him every success in the role when the baton passes over to him on January 1. Thank you all for your ongoing support for the PPA, and have a wonderful day here at The PPA Festival 2019.


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