SPEECH published on 16 Jun 2016 • Department / Unit Director General's Office

Director General speech to 76th General Assembly

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Thank you for this opportunity to present my report to you and bring you up to date on what we have been doing on your behalf since we last met in December in Geneva.

It’s almost four years ago that we launched Vision2020. We talk a lot about V2020 and I think it would be useful to remember what it was that we initially set out to achieve. The challenges Vision2020 required us to address were driven by the main concerns you expressed at the time, and they translate into some pretty straightforward questions:

1.  How should we respond to fundamental, ongoing changes in audience behaviour, technologies, markets and society?

2.  How do we help Members plan for these changes

I admit these are pretty wide-ranging questions but, at their heart, is something very simple. What will PSM look like in the future? What do we need (legal frameworks, funding and so forth) for it to be sustainable? And how do we achieve this?

And of course when we come to the ‘how?’ we must go back to the recommendations you made. They are in the original V2020 report. These recommendations were and, still are, the starting point for our strategic objectives, which drive everyday activities in Geneva and across the EBU. And you kindly approve these in the General Assembly every year in December.


So…the vision 2020 recommendations are:

…understand younger audiences, increase audience engagement and diversity, and be the most trusted source of information. Set priorities with regard to your programmes. And these translate into our strategic objective to support Members, increasing the quality and distinctiveness of their content.

…reach younger audiences, accelerate innovation and development, and redefine what public service media is in a networked society – these you find in our objective to focus our activities more to support Members to develop and implement digital strategies across all services. And it goes without saying the EBU professional association should do the same.

…ensure prominence of our programmes on all platforms and promote the value of public service media, – that’s covered in our objective to promote PSM values and make the case for PSM

…and our fourth objective comes right back to the original question about the EBU. The cohesion and solidarity of the union is vital for safeguarding the future of PSM in a globalised media system. Together we are stronger. So our fourth objective is to strengthen the cohesion of the union

Now I’d like to provide you with some specific examples of what we did and have achieved together since our last meeting.

Quality and distinctiveness of content

I will present to you 5 initiatives to illustrate what we have done to help you enrich your output.

-      News. We completed a major project to modernise the News Exchange. Now it delivers files in HD quality - if wanted - and meets the needs of Members who follow an ‘internet first’ strategy in their news rooms. But we should never stop developing, right? This is why we are now working to support Members who demand a ‘mobile first’ strategy. And we are also looking into the exchange of longer news formats that will support you to enrich your programmes with more in depth information.

-      Music. We worked with RTÉ to follow the dawn chorus of birds across Europe from east to west, allowing listeners to enjoy this amazing connection to the natural world.

We marked World Radio Day with a `Musical Caravan` celebrating the musical heritage of 34 different countries (that was in partnership with UNESCO).

-      Away from music, I have exciting news about a fantastic new programme format – the Eurovision Super Games. Not sport, entertainment. We set ourselves the challenge of coming up with a new format, in the tradition of the Song Contest – a format that will truly stand out as a landmark of entertainment, emblematic of what brings us all together. And I’m delighted that JPDT and his team in the media department have come up trumps (with the answer). I don’t want to go into too much detail now as that will spoil this afternoon’s presentation, but I can tell you it’s a great concept!

-      Generation What…. More than 700,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 34 have taken part in the first-ever pan-European survey of its kind. 18 EBU Members from 12 different countries are signed up to the project which asks participants to complete a survey of around 140 questions focused on family, society and the future, with questions ranging from  ‘Could you live happily without your mobile phone? ’ to ‘Do you trust the police?’

By the end of the year we will have the richest and most valuable information about the state of mind of a whole generation in Europe. The results are comparable within a country and with other countries. We will have a rich source of information to learn about our audience and it will help us to reach out and connect better. I am convinced that this source of information will inspire politicians, researchers and other industries as well.

-       In sports, we can confirm that we will be televising the first-ever European Sports Championships. This is truly a game-changing event bringing together all the major summer sports – free to air, as sport should be. We already have 23 Members who have signed up for the Championships and, if you haven’t already, I really encourage you to look at joining them (note: none yet from Arabic-speaking countries). Six federations will be part of it. The first event will take place with the twin hosts Berlin and Glasgow, and then repeated every four years in the non-Olympic even years.

We have also extended our agreements with many federations including UEC and UCI in cycling. With FIFA for the Club World Cup and their ’other’ events (like the Under 21s, Under 17s and women’s football); we agreed with LEN on a swimming contract until 2020. We signed contracts with the federations of Gymnastics, Wrestling, and Taekwondo. And we are proud that we could ensure, for the countries interested in winter sports, the contracts for Biathlon and for all Ski events in Switzerland.

But we did not succeed in acquiring the rights for the Olympic Games 2018, 2020, 22 and 24. For the first time a global US media organisation – Discovery – has successfully acquired the rights for the next two cycles as you know and most of you will not be able to broadcast the entirety of the Olympic Games on your channels.

This major shift in the rights market meant the sports committee asked us to look again at our strategy. The Executive Board is taking an active role in this, and we will be coming back here to the General Assembly with our conclusions very soon.

I know many of us are enjoying the football at the European Football Championships right now, and I’m very proud that we were able to acquire the exclusive cross-platform media rights for the European Football Championships for 26 Members. Our teams are currently extremely busy. Since the EBU is ensuring not only the connection between the stadiums, fan zones and the IBC but also bringing the games directly to your organisations. Never ever have we been as busy as now. In a few weeks we will be in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games, bringing the games to the world through our network.

Embrace Digital

Sharing expertise and learning from each other is the beating heart of the union. This has never been more valuable as today, since our industry is changing dramatically, due to new technologies and new competitors.

Our specialist legal, technical and research teams provide inspiring platforms where you learn, share, and see how other members deal with the same challenge you are dealing with. And of course our experts at the EBU make sure that you have access to the latest knowledge and expertise in technology, but also on the developments with regard to media regulation and the whole media industry itself.

We have moved ahead with a number of projects aimed at boosting our impact. I will present again five initiatives to illustrate what we are doing and what our priorities are:

-      The Skills Xchange brings together young media professionals from your organisations to provide the opportunity to share, nurture and develop new ideas. We have launched the Online and Mobile group of senior digital executives to deepen the understanding of how to establish an organization that truly embraces the opportunities provided by digital to reach out and connect. And over 100 participants came together for the second-ever Social Media Trends summit in Oslo.

-      Big Data

Big Data is the driver for some great strategic opportunities to help us all to provide a better public service. This is why we launched the ‘Big Data initiative’ this year. The initiative is driven by Members, with cross-departmental support by our teams in Technical, Media, Legal, and Public Affairs & Communications. The initiative focuses on four specific areas, which will be the theme of regular workshops throughout the year and in 2017:

  •         Audience measurement techniques - the question is here what can be measured and should be measured and how to make it meaningful.
  •         Recommendation systems - in line with PSM values; how to improve the systems but also how to avoid just providing more of the same.
  •         Storytelling - where we see great opportunities to analyse and visualize big data for news and sports purposes
  •         EBU data principles of trust - to meet data protection and privacy requirements - we believe will be essential to establish and maintain a relationship of trust with our audiences.

-      Production

Together with VRT and other partners, we have road-tested the world’s first live production studio based solely on IP technology. This was for a multi-camera debate at VRT in March. Live IP uses state of the art IT-based technology, and allows broadcasters to produce programmes more quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. The Sandbox Live IP Studio can help Members move into networked media, and I’m delighted to say the project won the first EBU Technology and Innovation award, presented just last week.  We will learn more about this later in Proud to Present.

IMPS – Integrated Media Production Strategies – is slightly changing its remit. We’ve just held a successful workshop in Tunis, with one more to go at the BBC, then we will focus on the technical and workflow challenges of producing content fast, for many outlets, with high production values.

The project will look at Members that have successfully established pilots, labs and even new procedures like organizational change to move faster from ideas to application: We will share the findings across the membership.

-      Digital Radio

When it comes to digital distribution, Radio was, for many years, at the forefront. But there are quite different views on the future distribution of radio.

We are currently working on three topics: One is to promote the value of digital terrestrial networks and the standard DAB+ that might eventually replace FM. We do this together with the Digital Radio Alliance that has recently been established.

The second initiative is to lobby the smart phone manufacturers to equip each mobile device with a radio receiver (DAB and FM) to transform the phone or tablet into a radio. We are proud that LG has implemented our recommendation. Is the first phone in Europe that can be used as a regular radio receiver. With this phone and a Bluetooth connection I now have a digital radio in my old car.

The third line of action for radio is to make sure that radio will be prominent in connected cars as well as on any other device. For this we will actively lobby the EU commission with regard to the revision of the telecom package which is due shortly. The objective is to have the must carry rules transformed into the new media economy.

-      Cyber Security.

My last point to illustrate what we are doing with regard to embracing the digital opportunities is related to Cyber Security. Cyber-security is a journey with a start, but not necessarily with an end, as we face continuously evolving, more sophisticated threats. We have launched the Media Cyber Security Initiative where Members meet and exchange in complete confidentiality.

For the EBU, we regularly test our IT and broadcast systems and have independent security companies audit them. And we now have separate IT and Network disaster recovery sites which we test on a regular basis.

Our staff receive regular training on security awareness and we have extended this awareness campaign to all staff (including of course freelances) involved in news and sports operations.

Promote PSM

We have championed the value of PSM for 65 years and we continue to campaign for independent broadcasting, sustainable funding and the best possible legal and technological framework for Members.

2015-16 has been an intense year at EU level but also at national level. Your organisations have been challenged as never before. We have seen two lines of attack: One line is to question the size and scope of the mandate the other line is to reduce the editorial independence and funding of public service. If successful both lines of attack will seriously undermine the foundation of public service.

Learning from the experiences of the DR, NRK as well as the BBC, we understand that your best argument is in your programmes. The great stories that only you can tell. Secondly it is critical to demonstrate that you are using public money wisely and effectively. And, thirdly, your audience and partners can help make the case for you. PSM is essential for cultural industries, for film, for music, for literature, for theatres and operas, for schools and eventually also for museums. They should be your allies and stand up for you. In the UK around 200,000 people participated in the consultation on the future of the BBC. The overwhelming majority support the BBC and it is difficult for politicians to go against the public will.

To help you make your case, we have provided support, advice and expert counsel to Members in need. We offered over 90 pieces of expert legal advice tailored for individual Members in the last year, covering all key areas of national and EU competition, copyright and media laws. Within our Partnership Programme we provided strategic consultancy, lobbying, training and political mediation. We trained more than 150 journalists and 15 trainers in the Balkans on PSM values, and in investigative journalism. At this stage I would also like to thank Boris Bergant in particular who supports us and is a great help for all of us.

Dear Members you can count on the EBU. We will stand at your side to bring the argument to the opinion leaders in your country and further afield. We provide the platforms to exchange best practices and ideas and we are working on a project which is called “Contribution to Society”. I am sure you must have heard about it.

It is not enough to tell anybody how many hours of programmes you produce and how many people you reach and how important you are. We need to demonstrate it. The ambition of the project “Contribution to Society” is not only to develop a framework to illustrate this but eventually to encourage a new mindset. I believe more than 70 participants have joined the community. SR and SRG are currently implementing this concept in their organisations and I am looking forward to showing you concrete examples of how to demonstrate your own contribution to society.

Public Service Media organizations- as well as the EBU – need to invest more in marketing and communications in order to make the case for PSM and sell its value to a  variety of audiences. This is a serious issue we need to tackle as our competitors are doing better at communicating with impact what they do. In order to be successful in the negotiations of your new charter/concession you need a long term marketing/communications strategy and action plan. This is why our Academy has developed a master class together with IESE and Harvard. The master class will take place in Barcelona and you will learn from the best how to develop such a strategy and plan. The first course will take place in October.

Furthermore, the communications and marketing directors of our Members are working hard this year to develop a PSM marketing campaign that will make the case for PSM across Europe and attempt to counter any negative consumer attitudes. This campaign will be made available to be aired on your radio and TV channels and websites. Members are developing a social media strategy that will go with it of course. The group will invite the best known agencies to tender over the summer and we hope that we can show you a first draft of the campaign during our winter assembly in Geneva.

We do not only rely on national regulation and support. We also need support at the EU level.

Almost all relevant directives which, combined, build our legal framework at EU level are currently under revision. So far it looks quite promising. The proposal of the audiovisual media service directive is on our desks. It all goes in the right direction. It is a good mix of maintaining the subsidiarity principle, the principle of co- and self -regulation as well as the necessary elements to standardise. The approach is simple, similar services need to have a similar regulation regardless how they are delivered.

We’re also very pleased to see that the Commission proposes to keep, and sometimes to strengthen, some of the current directive’s strong points: the country of origin principle, the protection of minors, the fight against hate speech, citizens’ access to news, and the possibility for Member States to ensure that events of major importance for society can be watched free-to-air by the entire population.

The risk for us is that our programmes in a complex and converging media ecosystem are not always easy to find anymore and that the cost will go through the roof if we have to pay for it. This is why we want to ensure that the ‘must carry rule’ as a principle will also apply on platforms and EPGs for example.

We are monitoring all EU issues for you, where crucial developments are happening we are involved in high level groups at EU level. And we are facilitating dedicated expert groups with Members of your staff in order to make sure that we remain aligned with your priorities but also with your best experts in the fields.

This is important for new topics such as 5G. It is the EU Commission’s ambition to become the leading continent when it comes to network infrastructure. Many of you will regularly see a 3G or 4G sign on your mobile phone and we have adapted quickly to the improved speed offered by 4G. Well 5G is a whole new thing and should solve all the problems we have. We are at an early stage. But a small group of experts are working on the future networks and we are currently working to ensure that our requirements are taken seriously.

Cohesion of the Union

As you have to demonstrate your contribution to society, we want to demonstrate our contribution to you. We are just beginning this journey.

We started with a detailed fact finding analysis of our current services and looked which Members were using what, how often and how much. We checked our databases, our website, we looked at who was downloading what. We looked at the regional representation in all committees, we checked who’s using the news exchange, and the music exchange, and for which Members we are negotiating sports rights contracts. We collected a large amount of information.

This analysis of this information illustrated, amongst many other issues that we - the professional association - have become more “Euro-centric” over time.

We want to be there for the whole membership. A series of visits with the top and middle management of Members is currently taking place. We use these visits to get feedback on our services, a better understanding of current needs and to promote our existing services.

We have to do some homework. Amongst other things we have to increase not only the awareness of the diversity of our membership but also ensure that we remain connected, communicate better, invest more in the relationships, and improve the regional representation in the various EBU bodies. And we must adapt our services accordingly.

The most important conclusion we draw from the analysis and the investigations made is that the most powerful argument of being a Member of the EBU are actually the other Members.

It is by sharing what you know and sharing what you own that the EBU becomes the most useful network with the most sustainable impact. We learn the most from other Members, from participating in exchanges of ideas and knowledge, and from visiting members and discussing innovative ways of producing new content and reaching out to citizens.

This is why the core of the EBU must be preserved and cherished. This is not easy in a time where we all have to do more with less. I am grateful for Members who continue to be there for other Members, when they need it most. Because they believe, as I do, that together we are better.



Author / Speaker

EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre

Source / Event

76th General Assembly, Montenegro