BLOG published on 14 Sep 2021

A recipe that works – let’s use it!

Antonio Arcidiacono, EBU Director of Technology & Innovation

"In time, I believe, we will see that 2021 marked the beginning of a new golden age for collaboration among public service media in Europe. The launch, in January and July, of two related products built by and for EBU Members has shown us the sustainable path to innovation and growth", EBU Director of Technology & Innovation Antonio Arcidiacono writes.

In the March 2021 issue of tech-i, we presented the Eurovision News Monitoring tool that gives journalists across EBU newsrooms – 20 Members and counting – access to a wealth of valuable content. And in this issue (on page 4), you can read about the public-facing phase of this project. Since 1 July, visitors to the websites and news apps of participating Members have been presented with a feed, titled A European Perspective, showing selected stories from across the EBU membership, translated into the user’s local language.

These twin initiatives work to the advantage of both European citizens and EBU Members. In-depth reporting sourced from trusted newsrooms helps keep local audiences informed about pan-European stories, with content that is selected by local editors to be both relevant and compelling. This acts as a counterbalance to disinformation campaigns that exploit fault lines between communities. At the same time, editors and journalists have access to a resource that saves them valuable time and enriches their own reporting.

This project has generated considerable excitement, not just because of these direct benefits, but also because it demonstrates in a concrete way that collaboration can fruitfully go beyond producing content
together – we can also find success by building together.

Building together

A first key lesson: we must control all of the core elements of the products we develop while at the same time controlling the costs. It is clear that EBU Members will need to outsource services to external
companies, both the tech giants like Amazon, Google and Microsoft and the traditional media technology vendors. But by building together we can establish a common position that strengthens our ability to influence those companies and guarantee the interchangeability of suppliers.

A great example of this is EuroVOX, the EBU-developed transcription and translation tool that sits at the heart of these new digital news projects. It doesn’t try to replace the translation engines but helps broadcasters to integrate the best supplier for any given use case and switch between suppliers efficiently as required.

This model can be extended to other cloud services or indeed any procurement or outsourcing, including operational. It is highly significant that the EBU is the first media organization to have joined the GAIA-X project (see page 6 of the latest issue of tech-i). This will be a key enabler for our collaborative development model, guaranteeing the security and the interchangeability of cloud-based applications. EBU Members and potentially all media players can benefit from healthy competition between suppliers and a multi-cloud approach.

The other key ingredient in this recipe for success is collaboration, both within and across EBU Members. Our colleagues at Sveriges Radio identified this as a critical element of their News Values project, the winner of this year’s EBU Technology & Innovation Award (see pages 10–11). It’s about having technology teams working in close collaboration with the content creators and editorial staff; and it means jointly having access to the talent that can support new developments.

As I wrote above, we are just at the start. What we have done for news must also be done for sport, for education, for culture, and more. Together we can build the tools and products that will ensure our collective growth and success!