The Edinburgh International Television Festival has announced its schedule for its 2017 edition (23-35 August).

Phoebe Waller-Bridge; Lauren Laverne, Nick Grimshaw, Rio Ferdinand, Sue Perkins, Evan Davis, Edith Bowman, Kirsty Wark, Mark Gordon, Anna Richardson, June Sarpong and Danielle Ward all feature in the initial line-up of names announced.

The Meet the Controller sessions will see a shake-up this year with new presenters including BBC broadcasters Lauren Laverne and Nick Grimshaw. In addition to the familiar one-on-one interview format with more than 10 key controllers including BBC One’s Charlotte Moore, channels are also invited to showcase their shows, teams and talent to better highlight what sets them apart from rivals.

Laverne will come face-to-face with ITV’s Kevin Lygo; Grimshaw will talk to BBC Three’s Damian Kavanagh about the channel’s first full year online while Patrick Holland will discuss his vision for BBC Two with television presenter, June Sarpong; Cassian Harrison will speak to television presenter and journalist Ranvir Singh about BBC Four and broadcaster and journalist Sam Naz will head up the ITV Digital session. Controllers from Channel 4, Channel 5, UKTV and Sky also form part of the line-up.

Advisory Chair, Diederick Santer, said: “I want the delegates to be inspired, to learn something new, to be told something they don’t know. So in every session, I want us to consider, what’s the new information here, what’s the privileged insight that this panellist or interviewee is giving us and what can we learn from them?  I’m really proud of the breadth of original content that the Festival is delivering this year.”

Festival Director, Lisa Campbell, said: “As well as welcoming back some of the most influential figures in our industry, we’ll hear from newer players such as Snapchat who are making the move into original content. We’ll have more international speakers with a new US and Chinese buyers strand and our diverse schedule will cover everything from fake news to true crime; talent management to crisis management, social media to satire.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge will be sharing her views on the rise of Fleabag in a comedy masterclass with Fleabag script editor and director Vicky Jones. The session, will look at how the hit comedy has put its creator at the forefront of a new generation of female writer-performers.

Meanwhile, with 20m social media followers, Rio Ferdinand joins a BT Sport panel to consider how to capitalise on a fan base to benefit your brand. This digital masterclass will look at how sport is leading the way with innovative content around their rights to successfully reach increasingly fragmented audiences.

The Festival is dedicating a key session to the memory of the late broadcaster, producer and Edinburgh committee member and chair, Steve Hewlett. The Steve Hewlett Debate: Fake News will feature a panel of senior news bosses and online players to discuss one of the most challenging issues facing the media industry and politics more widely.

The Speed Meetings return, where delegates can sit down with commissioning editors, senior talent managers, distributors and more, for short pre-booked meetings.

At Meet the US and China Buyers strands, delegates can discover all the latest creative and commercial opportunities from leading buyers looking to do business with UK producers.

The Leaders’ Debate will be chaired by journalist, presenter and economist Evan Davis. The festival says the debate will take a new approach to the debate this year: describing it as one of high level, Davos-style strategic insight, emphasising the joint challenges and opportunities which lie ahead for channel heads from BBC, ITV, C4, C5 and Sky.

The Festival is also focusing on digital and OTT platforms. Alongside Netflix execs, Amazon is set to make a return for the third consecutive year and Snapchat is to make its first appearance at the Festival with Vice President of Content, Snap Inc, Nick Bell, delivering a keynote interview.

He will give delegates an insight into Snap’s strategy for creating premium content for a mobile-first audience.

The Gamechanger strand, returns for a third year featuring a line-up of top executives from Comedy Central, Nat Geo Global Networks and The Mark Gordon Company, with more names still to be announced. Names include: Kent Alterman, Comedy Central president, who will discuss how he works with creator-driven talent including Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer and Trevor Noah to produce hit shows; Courteney Monroe, National Geographic Global Networks CEO who is behind MARS and award-winning TV and film producer Mark Gordon CEO of The Mark Gordon Company, and executive producer behind Grey’s Anatomy and Ray Donovan.

Elsewhere, the Festival will assess what happens when a production begins to spiral out of control and leads to a full-blown press crisis. Prash Naik, Channel 4’s General Counsel hosts this session which tests how a panel of producers and broadcasters cope with a production issue when the heat is turned up.

Studio Lambert boss, Stephen Lambert, and co-founder of Expectation, Tim Hincks will be in conversation, sharing their views on success, failure and how to crack the US amongst many other topics.

Kirsty Wark presents the annual Edinburgh special of Question Time where a line-up of TV execs will answer questions on the hot topics facing television.

A True Crime session looks at how you go about finding a killer story and asks what are the differences between factual and drama when it comes to depicting real events?

An Entertainment session will ask channel entertainment bosses each for their commissioning wish lists, plus ask them to create their money-no-object, ideal entertainment schedule, using shows from the past, present and future.

Edinburgh TV Fest 2017 is launching with a very special version of TV classic Blue Peter. A line-up of TV Execs will be put through their paces as they go through the legendary presenter audition process, including a rigorous outdoor challenge, a ‘make’ live on-stage and culminating in the iconic test of interviewing whilst trampolining. Execs will be judged by famous members of the Blue Peter team, past and present.

Staff Reporter

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