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Jeremy Darroch
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Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch has lifted the lid on the ways that Sky and Comcast are pooling their technical resources post-merger, in a conference speech focused heavily on innovation and disruption.

Speaking at Deloitte and Enders Analysis’ Media and Telecoms 2019 and Beyond event in London, Darroch said that less than six months on from Comcast’s acquisition of Sky, the companies are already seeing “clear benefits flowing in both directions”.

“We’ll be bringing Comcast’s own voice interface to Sky Q later this year and our broadband customers in Italy will benefit from Comcast’s xFi product,” he said, referring to Comcast’s ‘digital dashboard’ that lets users manage their home WiFi network and connected home.

“When NBCU launch an AVOD service in the US next year, it’ll be Sky’s OTT technology platform that has helped to enable that. We are making good use of each other’s content on screen, are working to serve our global advertisers better and all the while becoming a more capable and a more efficient organisation.”

Darroch described Now TV as one of the largest over-the-top platforms across Europe and said that Comcast will use the service’s UK-developed technology for NBCUniversal’s forthcoming direct-to-consumer proposition, which was announced in January and is due to go live in early 2020.

He also alluded to programmes that are already in place to prepare for the coming age of rapid transformation, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, stressing that being part of Comcast “only enhances and underwrites our ability to do more, move faster and to better serve our customers and audiences.”

While the Sky boss spoke about the company’s consumer focus and commitment to “constant renewal”, he also stressed the importance of responsibility, suggesting that the lessons of the banking crisis ten years ago can read as an argument for regulating today’s social media giants.

“What banking did for the economy, social media could do for social cohesion,” said Darroch, complaining that “the business models of the technology companies seem to allow them to trade without having the same kinds of obligations as most other companies – like paying tax that society expects and needs.”

In a specific reference to the debate surrounding online regulation, Darroch added: “It is illogical that if you watch something on your TV it is highly regulated, but if that video comes through YouTube or Facebook, our policy framework gives it a free pass. This is in part because we are in an entirely different world to the one tech platforms were born into.”

“Social media and digital technology can deliver so much good, but we all now accept it has a dangerous dark side. It needs rules just as much as TV does or financial services or any other powerful part of our society.”

The comments come a matter of weeks after the UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee published a report calling for a compulsory code of ethics, overseen by an independent regulator, to be brought in to monitor platforms like Facebook, which would effectively bring an end to self-regulation.

Comcast completed its takeover of Sky in October, after outflanking Twenty-First Century Fox a month earlier with a bid that valued the pay TV company at £30.6 billion.

To read Jeremy Darroch’s speech in full, click here.

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