EBU NEWS published on 11 Oct 2017 • Department / Unit European Affairs Technology & Innovation

MediaRoad Project Launch highlights digital transformation opportunities for media sector

The EBU has hosted the MediaRoad Project Launch, in collaboration with the 6th edition of the VRT SandBox Creative Circle event. This represents the first step on a journey which aims to reawaken a ‘start-up mentality’ in the media sector and bridge the gap between technological innovation and the creative and media sector.

The event gave participants a chance to learn about the MediaRoad project, which will be coordinated by the EBU, and the VRT Sandbox, which matches startups to the public broadcaster VRT for a short-term collaboration on projects geared towards innovation and market deployment.

The EBU’s new Director General Noel Curran opened the event by reflecting on the increasingly important role of public service media as a standard bearer for reliable news and in promoting common values. He highlighted the MediaRoad project as an important step along this path as it enhances cross-sectorial collaboration, allowing PSM to work hand-in-hand with commercial players, tech startups, academia and content producers.

Curran said: “In a rapidly changing world of digital transformation and increased media consumption, the role of public broadcasters is more important than ever. By embracing innovation and committing to producing quality content and news, public service media can be the leaders of a new media ecosystem.”

Presenting the MediaRoad project, the EBU's Nicola Frank and Hans Hoffmann outlined the key objective to help innovative concepts mature for market deployment and formulate common recommendations for future media policies. Nicola Frank stressed that MediaRoad should play a key role in prompting a strong community and sustainable voice for the media industry.

The project Hubs – Sandbox, Network and Policy – were presented by Sarah Geeroms of VRT, who will lead the Sandbox Hub; Dr Heritiana Ranaivoson, IMEC, who will run the Policy Hub; and Ralf Neudel, IRT, who is in charge of the Network Hub. The hub leaders presented the plans and objectives of the three interlinked hubs during a panel discussion and emphasized MediaRoad as a good starting point for increased collaboration between the creative and technological sectors.

Keynote speaker Paolo Cesarini, Head of Unit for Media Convergence and Social Media at the European Commission, emphasized that the MediaRoad project is coming at the right time to address some of the issues facing the media sector, including trust and reliability. The MediaRoad project, which is fully funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme, can be at the cross roads of the opportunities and challenges facing the sector, helping to take advantage of technological innovation while addressing issue such as fake news and filter bubbles.

Professor Francoise Benhamou from Universite de Paris 13 then provided a keynote on the challenges and opportunities facing the media sectors within today's highly competitive market, recognizing the need to balance innovation with protection of users.

Peter De Paepe from VRT Sandbox kicked off the afternoon by giving an introduction to the VRT Sandbox work. The Sandbox concept gives selected innovators the opportunity to test, scale and develop their products with help from VRT. The MediaRoad project aims to replicate the sandbox concept across Europe, exploiting the potential synergies between start-ups and SMEs on the one hand and broadcasters and larger media organizations  on the other.

Attendees then got a showcase of the exciting projects in the VRT Sandbox Creative Circle VI, including: the world’s first 16k Virtual reality; Live IP - a live production studio; SteamBox - which helps educate on new technologies; and TinkerList the first unified platform for creative television makers.

The day was wrapped up by speakers: Vincent Sneed, AER (Association of European commercial radios); Elena Lai, CEPI TV (European Coordination of Independent TV Producers); and Mick de Valck, VRT. In their closing remarks the speakers said that with the rapid pace of change in the technological media sectors, collaboration between the media sector, technological innovators and startups is more important than ever. In this framework, speakers highlighted that private-public partnerships across the media value chain is key to support sustainable innovation in Europe. The MediaRoad Project can not only enable this but also help to scale up and expand collaboration across Europe.

The event was attended by over 130 participants representing key stakeholders in the media field, including representatives from the European Commission, national TV and radio broadcasters, media organizations, producers, creators and researchers as well as start-up community.