NEWS published on 11 Oct 2019

Media industry is key to European digital sovereignty

Antonio Arcidiacono, EBU Director of Technology & Innovation

European public service media organizations are ready to take on a stronger role of leadership in the drive to strengthen Europe’s digital sovereignty – that was one of the key themes at this week’s 'Accelerating European Media Innovation' event in Brussels, a joint conference co-organized by the MediaRoad consortium and the EBU (presentations videos from the event can be viewed online).

“The media sector plays a central role in making Europe fit for the digital age”, said Antonio Arcidiacono, EBU Director of Technology & Innovation, in his keynote to an audience of EU lawmakers, EBU Members and high-level speakers including the current EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel.

The EBU is fostering a more vibrant and collaborative innovation environment through programmes such as MediaRoad. At the event in Brussels, the consortium’s stakeholders summarized an impressive list of activities completed during the project’s two-year term, with Hans Hoffmann, Head of the EBU’s unit on Media Fundamentals and Production Technology, and Nicola Frank, Head of European Affairs, presenting nine ‘Recommendations for Accelerated Media Innovation’ for the years to come.

A reinforced and collective effort to innovate would be necessary to maintain a healthy media environment and support the competitiveness of European media offerings, said Arcidiacono. “We need a stronger focus on the media sector in relevant programmes such as Horizon Europe, and continued work on regulatory frameworks to ensure a fair and transparent online platform environment for example.”

Leveraging innovation with partnerships 

MediaRoad is a consortium of research institutes (EPFL, IMEC, IRT, RAI CRIT and BBC R&D), independent producers (CEPI), commercial radio (AER) and public service media organizations. During its two-year term, the project created and linked 18 media innovation accelerators, scaling the Flemish public broadcaster VRT’s original “Sandbox” programme to locations all over Europe.

Nicola Frank, EBU Head of European Affairs, said: “We are far from the end of the road. Building on the achievements and lessons learnt in MediaRoad, we need continued work to bridge the gap between technology, innovation and creative players. Smart EU policy-making must support our endeavour.”

Housed in the EBU’s Brussels office, MediaRoad created a network of 50+ media stakeholders, ran 20 thematic conferences and workshops, and developed two vision papers on the 'Future of Media Innovation’ and the ‘Future and Emerging Technologies for the Media Sector’. The project, which received funding from the EU Horizon 2020 programme, is making a case to continue its work on advancing European media innovation with the ‘Recommendations for Accelerated Media Innovation’.

Catalyzing innovation with key developments

EBU T&I also presented a number of technology projects that exemplify both the need for media-specific technology innovation and the power of collaboration: Next Generation Audio (NGA) for better experiences, access services, and content mobility; EuroVOX, a European platform for language management; UHDTV, a collaborative effort for harmonized specifications to ensure consumer TVs are compatible with future high-quality media content; and the 5G Media Action Group (5G-MAG), a new organization open to all players that is designed to let the media industry have its own voice in the 5G debate.

“Attractive content cannot reach an interested audience if it isn’t supported by innovative infrastructures and related technologies”, said Arcidiacono.