How to become a TV mogul

In a media world that is changing by the day, people are rushing to get aboard a more creative kind of Masters
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The Independent Online

"Media companies are subject to the pressures of changing technology, globalisation and scale," he says. "Even smaller media organisations are finding they change from being local to national or international very quickly." Professor Hopwood is hopeful he can persuade wealthy donors to provide up to £10m for a media research centre at Said.

"The positioning of the research won't be clear until we know where the money is coming from," he says. "It could have a broadcasting and technology focus or concentrate more on newspapers and publishing. The interests of the donors will inevitably be an influence - but we think it is really important to go ahead with this initiative."

There is no shortage of issues to study. Jonathan Black, the school's director of corporate relations, points out that creative industries have, traditionally, been notoriously difficult to manage. "Changes in technology in the newspaper industry, and the potential threats from the proliferation of channels and content in the broadcasting world - these all pose challenges for anyone working in the media at a management level."

The Said's one year MBA programme will offer elective courses in media management for the first time this year. The aim is to expand the number on offer, covering everything from mergers and acquisitions to marketing strategy. The thorny issue of how to manage creative types attracted to media careers is also likely to be on the list of specialist options.

The aim is to allow specialisation, rather than to create a whole MBA course geared towards media managers. "Specialisation within the general MBA is what we are aiming for," says Black. "If you are going back into the television industry or online publishing you want to be able to apply what you have learned immediately."

At the same time, these courses will appeal to engineers or accountants with a secret hankering for a career in creative industries, he says. "Up to a third of MBA students sign up because they want the chance to change course. It's wrong to suggest that, unless you have ink in your veins, you can't understand the newspaper business, for instance." If accountants can learn how to manage television production, could an MBA teach journalists to account for more than their travelling expenses? "Why not? Plenty of people move from writing or producing into the management side."

The Said is not the only business school hoping to take advantage of a realisation in media companies that creativity has to be accompanied by good management training. Earlier this year the training council for the film industry, Skillset, asked business schools to bid for a contract to run an international MBA, tailored to the needs of film executives.

The Cass Business School at City University in London won the five-year contract, partnering with Stern Business School in New York and the Anderson school at the University of Los Angeles.

Professor Chris Brady at Cass is hoping that the chance to study in Hollywood, New York and London will be a big enticement for signing up. "The course will be like a global executive MBA, with opportunities to study the business where it really matters."

Participants will be able to go and talk to the movers and shakers in the film industry. They'll meet the studio heads and learn how the business of raising funds for films works in practice and visit Shanghai during its film festival.

But Professor Brady points out that the director behind the camera is not necessarily the person they are hoping to attract. "We've had inquiries from the big accountancy firms and law firms involved in the film industry, and TV companies. Some organisations will sponsor their own employees."

The Said Business School says the offer of scholarships will also attract foreign students and give a global perspective to the media centre's research. It would also be the third centre to focus on areas of the economy which, according to Professor Hopwood, will be increasingly important. For instance, Jeff Skoll, the founder of eBay, donated money for a research centre into social entrepreneurship.

"What we are trying to do is map the knowledge-intensive side of an emergent economy," says Hopwood. He accepts that, for the uninitiated, this might sound like management gobbledegook, but is unapologetic about the emphasis on so called "new economy" industries. "We are a new business school and we want to be at the moving edge of events," he says.

As a former accountant, he would be the last to admit that a balance sheet can't provide excitement. But staying with tried and tested specialisms like corporate finance will not, he says, be enough to attract high achievers from around the world to MBA programmes. "Business is so interesting," says Hopwood, "yet business schools are so boring. We want to look to the future, not the past."

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