Richard Branson is a British entrepreneur known for his philanthropic projects and his taste for adventure. He is the founder and chairman of Virgin Group Ltd., a conglomerate of separately run companies which include radio stations, airlines, and mobile phones. The Virgin Group now owns around 200 companies in over 30 countries. Virgin also plans to launch commercial space flights over the next few years in a venture called Virgin Galactic.
Branson was born in 1950 in Surrey, England, and was educated at Stowe School, where he established a national magazine, Student, at the age of 16. He is married with two children and lives in London and Oxfordshire.
Richard Branson: I think the power of the media is terrifying. The media have enormous power, and they therefore, again, have enormous responsibility. They have enormous responsibility to wield that power responsibly. And the media in America, I think, has a lot to answer for. I won’t go as far as saying it was deliberate. They certainly made the most of a spectacle. The gung ho attitude, say, of Fox Television, sort of going into Iraq; no thoughts at all for the civilians and the children. I thought the whole reporting was unbelievably irresponsible.
Richard Branson: In Britain we’ve just banned smoking in public. And it’s working. People who were smoking in public are looking like they’re going to give up smoking in public. And I think the same applies to television.
If you give people decent television, and there isn’t absolute garbage next door to that decent television, people will watch decent television. Maybe they’ll learn a lot from watching decent television.
If you sit in front of American television networks, finding a story about almost any country outside America, apart from Iraq at the moment, is impossible. There is a war going on in Somalia at the moment. Ethiopia has invaded Somalia in the last three months. I don’t think many people in America would know that. It could have enormous ramifications for the whole of Africa. And you know, if militant Islam react really badly as a result of that invasion--
It just needs to be more debate, more discussion.
Recorded on: July 5, 2007 at The Aspen Ideas Festival