These are fascinating and challenging times: attractive content cannot reach an interested audience if it is not supported by innovative infrastructures and related technologies. Technology and innovation are thus the basis of all successful new media products.
Since taking up the position as EBU Director of Technology & Innovation, I have come back again and again to the same message: it is only by joining forces that we will be able to remain relevant in the very competitive media market. This includes public and private broadcasters and the European media industry as a whole. And we certainly need more collective effort to accelerate European media innovation. Actions speak louder than words, however, so allow me to mention just two of the projects I’m pleased to have set in motion over the past 12 months.
The October launch of the 5G Media Action Group – 5G-MAG – will help to put Europe at the centre of the 5G conversation when it comes to media-related applications. Representing the interests of the media industry in the area of 5G, this new global organization offers a “convergent voice” that was previously missing.
In a different domain, the EuroVOX project has been building momentum over the past year. The aim is to create an open European platform for language management and accessibility, an open platform using AI-based speech-to-text-to-speech algorithms to make any content available to any citizen in their native language (more about this on page 7 of the current issue of the tech-i magazine). These are only two examples of several developments aimed at reinforcing the leadership role of the European media industry.
Policymakers want to make Europe fit for the digital age and they certainly agree that media play a central role in this process, contributing to creating inclusive and cohesive societies, promoting fundamental democratic values, and helping to develop the skills necessary for informed citizenship. For the latter, digital and media literacy play a key role in empowering citizens and combatting information disorder, including disinformation.
Providing Europeans with innovative and creative instruments should be a priority. New generations should be helped to develop the ability to communicate more effectively using those instruments, equipping them to better understand and interrogate the avalanche of information they are exposed to. However, Europe’s media and creative industries are operating in an increasingly global and competitive marketplace and the digital age has changed the speed of innovation.
Media innovation therefore must be accelerated by putting a stronger focus on the sector in Horizon Europe and other relevant programmes. This support must be proportional at least to the importance of media in Europe and the related GDP it generates. More support is needed to adapt cutting-edge technologies for innovative media services, for example in the fields of AI and data, cloud-based platforms, immersive experiences, language management and accessibility, as well as recommendation and personalization services. Accelerating media innovation is crucial if Europe wants to strengthen its digital sovereignty!
This blog post also appeared as the editorial piece in tech-i magazine issue 42: "Setting the pace for online platforms"