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Portrait of Victoria Gaskell

Victoria Gaskell

UK Media Team Leader

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
Cannon Place
78 Cannon Street
United Kingdom
Languages English, French

Victoria is a partner in the commercial media team with over 20 years' experience and co-heads the media practice. She focusses on commercial, regulatory and transactional work for the content and digital media industries and her clients include production companies, distributors, platforms and channels as well as brands and advertisers. Victoria also acts for talent and advises on brand exploitation, joint ventures and publishing deals as well as on media sector M&A alongside the corporate media team.

Victoria also advises sports clients including top flight football clubs on broadcast and rights related issues and transactions. 
She has spent time on secondment with ITV Network's programme commissioning team and at NBC Universal in the role of SVP Business and Legal Affairs International TV Production.

Victoria is recognised as a Leading Individual in Legal 500 and is ranked in Chambers & Partners for Film and Television. She speaks regularly at conferences on issues affecting the content industries and also sits on the board of industry body Women in Film and Television.

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The firm has a reputation for achieving excellence in a range of cases and receives a multitude of client praise. “The partners we mostly use are John Enser and Victoria Gaskell. We rate them very highly - both are experts in media law and are real assets on complex media transactions,” noted one client.

Media Law International 2016: UK

The ‘very practical’ Victoria Gaskell, (who is ‘a great asset on any deal’) acted for Viacom on the outsourcing of the Channel 5 advertising sales and sponsorship function to Sky Media.

Legal 500 UK 2016

Olswang LLP has ‘unrivalled industry expertise in media and broadcasting’ combined with ‘business acumen and industry knowledge’. ‘No one is better in the media world’ than Victoria Gaskell and her colleague, according to one client. Gaskell provides ‘a great service’. Viacom, BBC, Microsoft and Shine are key clients.

Legal 500 UK 2015

Relevant experience

  • Comcast on the media regulatory aspects of its $30bn acquisition of Sky Plc.
  • Annabel Jones and Charlie Brooker, the creators of Black Mirror, on setting up production entity Broke and Bones and the subsequent investment by Netflix.
  • All3Media on its acquisition of leading natural history producer Silverback Films. 
  • M&C Saatchi on advertising production and talent agreements for multiple campaigns.
  • Elisabeth Murdoch and related entities on establishing content production business, Sister and its investment in South of the River Pictures.
  • Viacom / Channel 5 on its channel carriage negotiations for the MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central channels on Sky’s satellite and broadband platforms. Victoria has also advised Viacom on re-shuffling of the channels in the Sky EPG as well as joint venture arrangements.
  • Various broadcaster clients on the media regulatory implications of Brexit.
  • A major OTT player on the international roll out of its service.
  • Cameron Mackintosh on the international licensing of its well known musicals. 
  • A leading pharmaceutical business on its global re-procurement of creative advertising services.
  • NBCUniversal on its international co-production deal with TF1 and RTL and its joint venture with Harry Potter producer, David Heyman.  
  • VR production company Factory42 on various commercial matters.
  • BBC Worldwide on its long-term creative partnership with AMC Networks under which AMC Networks invested $200m to acquire a 49.9% equity stake in cable channel BBC AMERICA. 
  • Viacom on the commercial and regulatory aspects of its acquisition of Channel 5, a game changing deal in the UK television sector.  
  • BBCW Worldwide on the sale of its magazines division to Exponent Private Equity and on its partnership with Getty for a global online clip sales portal. 
  • 21st Century Fox on its joint venture with Apollo merging global television production groups Endemol and Shine.
  • Arts Alliance Media on its EU wide roll out of digital cinema projection systems including negotiating its virtual print fee deals with Hollywood studios (the first of their kind at the time).
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  • 1999 - LLB, English Law and French Law, University College London
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Tech­no­logy Trans­form­a­tion – Me­dia
The me­dia sec­tor is known to be highly com­pet­it­ive, with that com­pet­i­tion driv­ing in­nov­a­tion. Older me­dia busi­nesses have had to grapple with dis­rupt­ive new entrants. And those new entrants are con­stantly work­ing to de­liv­er bet­ter and more en­ga­ging con­tent and user ex­per­i­ences to main­tain their ad­vant­age. Di­git­isa­tion has changed how me­dia com­pan­ies in­ter­act with their audi­ence in ways we could not have ima­gined just a few years ago, but this comes with risk.This re­port is a deep dive in­to the data first pro­duced for the re­port Tech­no­logy Trans­form­a­tion: Man­aging Risks in a Chan­ging Land­scape. This saw over 500 cor­por­ate coun­sel and risk man­agers sur­veyed from mul­tiple in­dus­tries across the world. Here we look in de­tail at the 75 re­spond­ents from the me­dia sec­tor, and their per­spect­ives on the risks as­so­ci­ated with busi­ness-crit­ic­al tech­no­lo­gies, in­clud­ing emer­ging tech­no­lo­gies. What did we find? Me­dia is a dy­nam­ic sec­tor and can be an early ad­op­ter of many nov­el tech­no­lo­gies as com­pan­ies push for com­pet­it­ive ad­vant­ages to cre­ate and sat­is­fy cus­tom­er de­mand. As we look to the fu­ture, the sec­tor does seem un­der­prepared in some areas, which is a po­ten­tial cause for con­cern.Down­load the Tech­no­logy Trans­form­a­tion me­dia sec­tor re­port now to read aboutThe prin­cip­al drivers in the ad­op­tion of busi­ness-crit­ic­al tech­no­logy in the me­dia sec­tor­Con­fid­ence in man­aging tech-re­lated risks among seni­or me­dia ex­ec­ut­ivesFu­ture threats from new tech­no­lo­gies like AI and block­chain­Which plans and pro­cesses me­dia com­pan­ies are put­ting in place to pro­tect tech in­fra­struc­ture­Cul­tur­al bar­ri­ers to man­aging tech risks in the me­dia sec­tor­Preferred ap­proaches to dis­pute res­ol­u­tion in the me­dia sec­tor
CMS Me­dia Up­date Morn­ing 2022
In April this year, the long awaited me­dia white pa­per was fi­nally pub­lished. While changes in Gov­ern­ment may have delayed pub­lic­a­tion of the draft me­dia bill un­til after the sum­mer re­cess, me­dia part­ner Vic­tor­ia Gaskell is here, along­side Seni­or As­so­ci­ates Sam Oustayi­an­nis and Re­becca Platt, to give us a com­pre­hens­ive in­tro­duc­tion to the white pa­per and over­view of what ex­actly it cov­ers. They then drill down on three par­tic­u­lar areas of re­form that are fo­cused on in the white pa­per, be­ing: en­hanced VOD reg­u­la­tion; the re­vised prom­in­ence re­gime and po­ten­tial changes to the lis­ted events re­gime.With the con­tin­ued polit­ic­al un­cer­tainty it re­mains to be seen when ex­actly the draft me­dia bill will be pub­lished, how­ever, we’ll be sure to up­date you as soon as we know more.
CMS Me­dia Up­date Morn­ing
Our pop­u­lar Me­dia Up­date Morn­ing re­turns.We are de­lighted that this ses­sion will be our first in per­son me­dia event since be­fore the pan­dem­ic and we are very ex­cited to see you all. Please do come early...
CMS ad­vises Fre­mantle on ma­jor­ity stake ac­quis­i­tion in Ele­ment Pic­tures
In­ter­na­tion­al law firm CMS has ad­vised in­de­pend­ent TV pro­duc­tion com­pany, Fre­mantle, part of Ber­tels­mann, the in­ter­na­tion­al me­dia group, on its ac­quis­i­tion of a ma­jor­ity in­terest in award win­ning pro­duc­tion...
Me­dia up­date morn­ing - Winter 2021
Our pop­u­lar Me­dia Up­date Morn­ing re­turns – on­line only.Our last few ses­sions have been dom­in­ated by Brexit and Cov­id-19, and while we can’t prom­ise these sub­jects won’t come up, this ses­sion will...
The me­dia and cli­mate change
How is the me­dia sec­tor ad­dress­ing the cli­mate chal­lenge?
Ded­ic­ated En­ergy & Cli­mate Change prac­tice
With more than 450 law­yers in 75 of­fices across the globe our En­ergy and Cli­mate Change prac­tice is one of the largest of its kind. It was foun­ded on ground-break­ing work design­ing and im­ple­ment­ing mod­ern en­ergy mar­kets and is now at the fore­front of de­vel­op­ments on en­ergy trans­ition, re­new­ables and the vari­ous re­sponses to the cli­mate crisis. From ad­vising on cli­mate change strategy, new tech­no­lo­gies, risk and dis­putes, to en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tion, Power Pur­chase Agree­ments, and real es­tate and in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects, we ad­vise cli­ents op­er­a­tion­ally and stra­tegic­ally. Our track re­cord in­cludes: Ad­vising on the UK’s most ad­vanced car­bon cap­ture pro­ject in the UK’s first zero-car­bon in­dus­tri­al cluster. BP, Eni, Equi­nor, Shell and Total have formed a con­sor­ti­um and as­sumed lead­er­ship of the Net Zero Teesside Pro­ject, pre­vi­ously known as the Clean Gas Pro­ject.Ad­vising product man­u­fac­tur­ers in re­la­tion to sus­tain­ab­il­ity laws for on the launch of new broad­cast and stream­ing devices.Ad­vising broad­cast­ing and me­dia pub­lish­ing com­pan­ies in re­la­tion to Stream­lined En­ergy and Car­bon Re­port­ing and the En­ergy Sav­ings Op­por­tun­ity Scheme.Ad­vising vari­ous private equity funds, banks and large in­ter­na­tion­al man­u­fac­tur­ing and real es­tate or­gan­isa­tions such as Columbia Thread­needle In­vest­ments, Amet­ek, and John La­ing In­fra­struc­ture Fund on en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, car­bon and re­lated re­port­ing ob­lig­a­tions across the EU.Ad­vising ma­jor banks, in­surers and as­set man­agers on prin­ciples likely to un­der­pin reg­u­lat­ory frame­works in­clud­ing, EU Ac­tion Plan for Fin­an­cing Sus­tain­able Growth, Fin­an­cial Sta­bil­ity Board’s Task Force on Cli­mate-re­lated fin­an­cial dis­clos­ures, LMA Green Loan Prin­ciples, ICMA Green Bond prin­ciples.
Get­ting the mes­sage across
For me­dia com­pan­ies, the twin re­spons­ib­il­it­ies of work­ing to­wards net zero and of con­vey­ing the im­port­ance of that mes­sage to their view­ers, read­ers and con­sumers re­quires a care­fully cal­ib­rated ap­proach. In a sec­tor gen­er­ally char­ac­ter­ised by a high level of com­pet­i­tion, the level of co-op­er­a­tion and col­lab­or­a­tion between the ma­jor par­ti­cipants serves as a role mod­el for oth­ers to fol­low.Glob­al suc­cess at COP26 will ul­ti­mately be judged by gov­ern­ments’ col­lect­ive ef­forts to achieve their goals. Sim­il­arly, the me­dia sec­tor may well be judged by its abil­ity to com­mu­nic­ate and per­suade people to change their be­ha­viour. It is a re­spons­ib­il­ity they seem well-equipped to man­age and one that CMS is act­ively en­gaged in help­ing with.
Cli­mate change cov­er­age
However well the me­dia sec­tor per­forms in work­ing to­wards its zero car­bon tar­gets by re-eval­u­at­ing in­tern­al pro­cesses and cor­por­ate be­ha­viour, its greatest be­ne­fi­cial im­pact ar­gu­ably rests in its ca­pa­city to change so­ci­et­al and con­sumer be­ha­viour. Here, the me­dia sec­tor has an enorm­ous part to play – through por­tray­als on screen, in TV shows, news pro­grammes such as Sky’s The Daily Cli­mate Show and doc­u­ment­ar­ies, as well as in ad­vert­ising. Where broad­casters used to give cli­mate change den­iers equal air­time in dis­cus­sions on the top­ic, this is no longer the case. Some TV pro­grammes, des­pite per­haps hav­ing a re­l­at­ively heavy car­bon foot­print, have served to get im­port­ant mes­sages about cli­mate change across to many mil­lions of people. To film a nature doc­u­ment­ary, the crew has to take their equip­ment to far flung places, of­ten for weeks or months at a time. However, the be­ne­fi­cial im­pact of these pro­grammes can dwarf the car­bon foot­print in­volved in mak­ing them. The net be­ne­fit of some of these pro­duc­tions – Blue Plan­et II be­ing an ob­vi­ous ex­ample – has there­fore been ex­po­nen­tially high­er than the ac­tu­al car­bon foot­print cre­ated be­cause they have edu­cated so many people about the hor­rendous im­pact of cli­mate change on an­im­al and hu­man hab­it­ats. ‘ITV takes is­sues which are on the edge of the main­stream and makes them main­stream,’ says Braun. When it comes to mak­ing cli­mate change main­stream, noth­ing can sur­pass COP26 which is to be hos­ted by the UK in Glas­gow. COP is short­hand for con­fer­ence of the parties un­der the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UN­FC­CC). This year’s meet­ing, COP26, will of­fi­cially open on 31 Oc­to­ber with more than 120 world lead­ers at­tend­ing as they seek to find ways to re­duce GHG emis­sions and de­liv­er on the am­bi­tions set out in the Par­is Agree­ment and the Con­ven­tion. Un­der the 1992 UN­FC­CC, every coun­try is treaty-bound to “avoid dan­ger­ous cli­mate change”. ‘We talk about our so­cial pur­pose plans at ITV, our abil­ity as a plat­form to re­flect and shape cul­ture,’ says Braun. ‘On the first day of COP26, we’ve got Cli­mate Ac­tion Day on ITV, our main chan­nel. So, from six o’clock in the morn­ing through to 10:30 at night, the en­tire day is go­ing to have a cli­mate ac­tion theme with­in the pro­grammes and the ad­vert­ising breaks.’
Live sport
When the pan­dem­ic hit BT Sport, they de­cided to ac­cel­er­ate re­mote pro­duc­tion. ‘A foot­ball match, pre-pan­dem­ic, nor­mally in­volved sev­er­al out­side broad­cast vehicles,’ says Garber. ‘For ex­ample, one for the slow-mo­tion re­plays, a second to man­age the present­a­tion and a third to cov­er the match: the dir­ect­or call­ing the cam­er­as. In ad­di­tion to these size­able vehicles, there is a tender, which car­ries all the equip­ment, a din­ing bus, and an­oth­er to man­age on­screen graph­ics. They have to ac­com­mod­ate a very large TV crew. Be­cause of tech­no­logy en­hance­ments, many of these people and their kit can now be some­where else. ‘So, you send your cam­era team, presenters and com­ment­at­ors, but al­most every­body else – re­plays, graph­ics, dir­ect­or, pro­du­cer and as­sist­ant pro­du­cers – can be hun­dreds of miles away in a pro­duc­tion con­trol room. We call them Re­mote Op­er­a­tions Centres (ROCs), like out­side broad­cast trucks, but with no wheels. You have an ROC in a cent­ral loc­a­tion which the crew go to match after match, in­stead of trav­el­ling all over the coun­try. That’s re­mote pro­duc­tion. In ad­di­tion to our Strat­ford stu­dio, we plan to build centres in Birm­ing­ham, Leeds and Glas­gow. So we can still use the people we want, but they have less dis­tance to travel. Crew travel and kit move­ments have been much re­duced: that’s been a very pos­it­ive sus­tain­ab­il­ity by-product of the pan­dem­ic.’In a sign that the trend is spread­ing fur­ther in­to sport, Sky and Tot­ten­ham re­cently partnered for the world’s first ma­jor net zero car­bon foot­ball game against Chelsea. Pub­li­city for the Premi­er League match in­cluded the fol­low­ing: ‘#GameZero will demon­strate the green steps that the sport­ing world can take to work to­wards a zero­car­bon fu­ture; #GameZero part­ners want the game to raise aware­ness of the threat of cli­mate change and in­spire fans to make simple changes that will help re­duce their car­bon foot­print.'
Ad­vert­ising: pro­act­ive steps
As one of the key reg­u­lat­ors in the me­dia sec­tor, The Ad­vert­ising Stand­ards Au­thor­ity (ASA) has, his­tor­ic­ally, been more re­act­ive than pro­act­ive. But this has changed. ‘The move from re­act­ive to pro­act­ive is a jour­ney we’ve been on since 2014,’ says Guy Park­er, the ASA’s Chief Ex­ec­ut­ive. ‘We’ve made really big strides. Far less of our re­source is now spent deal­ing re­act­ively with com­plaints from the pub­lic.’ Part of that shift in­volves cli­mate change. ‘For the ASA, the fo­cus is: what con­tri­bu­tion should ad­vert­ising reg­u­la­tions make to us hit­ting the cli­mate change tar­gets that we have set ourselves, which have be­come more de­mand­ing with the 78% car­bon re­duc­tion by 2035 tar­get,’ he says. The chal­lenge, notes Park­er, is to identi­fy the pri­or­ity areas that the ASA should look at. ‘Where hu­mans are con­trib­ut­ing to bad en­vir­on­ment­al im­pacts: avi­ation, food, cars and heat­ing are four big areas that have been iden­ti­fied as pri­or­it­ies for be­ha­vi­our­al change in vari­ous re­ports by the Cli­mate Change Com­mit­tee, among oth­ers,’ he says. ‘That gives us a steer on where we should be look­ing.’ Park­er adds: ‘The ASA tries to re­flect so­ci­ety, rather than so­cially en­gin­eer so­ci­ety. This gov­ern­ment and fu­ture gov­ern­ments are go­ing to be leg­ally held to some in­cred­ibly de­mand­ing cli­mate change tar­gets. That makes our life easi­er be­cause the case for change has been made. We then have to de­cide, look­ing at the evid­ence, be­ing thought­ful, tak­ing sound­ings from ex­perts, what that change looks like. There’s a le­git­im­ate ques­tion about wheth­er ad reg­u­la­tion needs to play a part in that change. Busi­nesses want to do the right thing, and pro­mote more sus­tain­able be­ha­viour, not be­cause they’re held to that by a code that we po­lice, but be­cause it fits with their ESG strategy, their com­mit­ments, and their con­tracts with their con­sumers.’ Last Novem­ber, the Ad­vert­ising As­so­ci­ation (AA) launched its Ad Net Zero plan, which aims to get the ad­vert­ising in­dustry to com­mit to min­im­ise its car­bon foot­print in the cre­ation of ads. This year, the ASA and CAP are un­der­tak­ing a Cli­mate Change and the En­vir­on­ment pro­ject, tak­ing stock of the rules reg­u­lat­ing en­vir­on­ment­al claims (some guid­ance hav­ing re­cently been is­sued by the CMA). ‘We’re not just look­ing at green claims, we’re also look­ing at broad­er en­vir­on­ment­al mes­sages, un­sus­tain­able con­sumer be­ha­viours, the ex­tent to which ad­vert­ising is con­trib­ut­ing to that,’ says Park­er. ‘In the next few years, it will be uni­ver­sally ac­cep­ted that ad reg­u­la­tion has a role to play, where it doesn’t at the mo­ment.’ But there is only so much that the ASA can do, even on a more pro­act­ive basis without le­gis­lat­ive change. Stu­art Helmer, head of ad­vert­ising and mar­ket­ing at CMS Lon­don, com­ments: “We have seen reg­u­lat­ors, in­clud­ing the ASA, tak­ing a firmer line against un­sub­stan­ti­ated en­vir­on­ment­al claims in re­cent years. Of­ten this be­ne­fits big brands, who can get wild claims of­ten made by dis­ruptor com­pan­ies taken down. But a re­align­ment of ad­vert­ising reg­u­la­tion to dis­cour­age over­con­sump­tion gen­er­ally would be a sig­ni­fic­ant step bey­ond the ASA’s nor­mal func­tion of cur­tail­ing mis­lead­ing ad­vert­ising, and could have far-reach­ing ef­fects on the in­dustry. While there is only so much that the ASA can do, even on a more pro­act­ive basis, without le­gis­lat­ive change, the CMA’s re­cent pub­lic­a­tion of guid­ance on gre­en­wash­ing may in­dic­ate a firmer line from the ASA’s “back­stop” reg­u­lat­or. Ad­vert­isers should keep a close eye on the out­come of the ASA re­view.”
In­tern­al fo­cus
ITV has form­al­ised its net zero tar­get in an an­nu­al pro­duc­tion plan. ‘We’ve in­stalled an en­vir­on­ment­al data plat­form which provides trans­par­ency on our car­bon emis­sions,’ says Braun. ‘It’s very de­tailed work and quite painstak­ing: we need to look at emis­sions from of­fices based in 13 ter­rit­or­ies around the world which might have mul­tiple sites. In the UK, we have more than 110 sites.’ Garber out­lines BT Sport’s ap­proach. ‘It’s im­port­ant to start from the top down,’ he says. ‘We put our seni­or lead­er­ship team through car­bon lit­er­acy aware­ness train­ing, which has an im­me­di­ate im­pact on how they view their place in the world and how they can help. Train­ing is ex­tremely im­port­ant to get every­body on board. Train the seni­or team, then work down. Al­bert was very help­ful be­cause they provide free train­ing to the me­dia in­dustry. Once that hap­pens, every­body is play­ing for the same team in try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence. Then you do simple things, like giv­ing every­body a flask and a cof­fee cup. ‘Our core busi­ness is sports pro­duc­tion. How do you pro­duce the con­tent? The first thing is to ap­ply everything you do in the stu­dio to when you’re out on the road or mak­ing pro­grammes – at out­side broad­casts, things like ca­ter­ing, single use plastic.’ It’s really im­port­ant to bring your sup­ply chains with you, he notes. ‘The worst thing is to say to your sup­pli­ers: we’re sus­tain­able now, so you’ve got to be. End of con­ver­sa­tion. That’s not the way to do it. In­stead, tell them: we’re a sus­tain­able com­pany now, or cer­tainly try­ing to be, we’d love it if you were too. Let’s see how we can work to­geth­er to get you to a point that we’re all happy with.’ Go­ing green ‘isn’t free’, he notes, ‘it costs someone money some­where.’ This year, Garber re­ceived a press re­lease from Sky Sports about their tar­get to go 100% Green D Plus bio­fuel in out­side broad­cast gen­er­at­ors in a mat­ter of weeks. ‘I sent an email to the head of sus­tain­ab­il­ity at Sky and said: this is amaz­ing, how are you go­ing to do it? She sent me the de­tails of their ac­tion plan. I phoned Tele­gen­ic – our out­side broad­cast sup­pli­er – and said: Can we do what Sky is do­ing? Tele­gen­ic said: yes, we can. Six weeks after their ini­tial press re­lease, we hit the same tar­get as Sky. It’s so im­port­ant that we share know­ledge across the sec­tor even if we’re com­pet­it­ors.’ But, Garber cau­tions: ‘We’ve got to be care­ful not to preach. We re­cog­nise we’re not per­fect and shouldn’t pre­tend that we are. The crime is say­ing noth­ing be­cause you’re too frightened you will be caught out.’ At a prac­tic­al level, both ITV and BT Sport would ideally like their staff and freel­an­cers to use elec­tric vehicles. But un­til the up-front cost drops and the range of EVs in­creases this is not yet feas­ible.