Compelling content for smart growth

24 February 2010 Author: EIFonline

Mats Åkerlund, Head of Digital Strategy of Swedish Radio was the first speaker at the EIF breakfast on 24 February 2010. Swedish Radio and TV has been a major player on the Internet in terms of innovation and  can be heard via a whole range of distribution channels, such as FM, on demand, and of course online. 

Mr. Åkerlund said that one of the blessings is that old radio works perfectly well on new media such as Internet. The important aspect is to ask what value can be added from a content and an innovation point of view in the online channel? 

Mr. Åkerlund foreseesa strong future for online radio and presented a range of reasons why. First, of course, is that the computer is a radio and that therefore there is one in every pc and laptop. The users have freedom of space because the Internet is global and you can listen to your local radio station wherever you are in the world. At the same time the Internet brings the possibility to have more content and unique channels segmented even for special interests such as political debate and other channels. Freedom of time is another advantage of Internet radio. FM programmes are streamed online and can be retrieved in a 30 day web archive. In addition podcasts are made available for download as MP3 files, so people can listen to them wherever they want. Mr. Åkerlund also mentioned the new 3G and 4G smart cellphones which are ideal platform for online radio with new smart applications and geo tagging. Interactivity of online radio allows users to see what other programmes have been selected by listeners and which programmes are most popular. Everything becomes searchable because of the application of meta data to each programme. As a result, content has a longer lifetime and further reach.

The game is yet to begin however, according to Mr. Åkerlund. Mobile will become extremely important for online radio as will be further innovations, but for now the future of radio will be both FM, direct terrestrial broadcasting and online.

 The second speaker of the morning was Jesus Badenes, CEO of the Spanish Publishing Group Planeta. Mr. Badenes addressed the question of how to create compelling content for economic growth. In broad terms, he cited the obvious need for an adequate legal environment, investment capacity in financial terms, an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the right commercial environment.

The good news, in his words, is that 7 out of 10 of the largest publishing companies are European based. However, the content creation industry is fragmented, it has no market power, it is not sexy and faces strong competition in very fragmented markets. It is important to consider that there need to be consistent incentives for companies to create content. If people steal that content there is nothing left to give away. In other words, piracy is a real danger to the future of quality content creation.

The dynamic of the ecosystem has dramatically changed, Mr. Badenes argued. Search engines, telecom companies, the consumer electronics industry, companies like Nokia, Sony, Apple and new content distribution companies such as Amazon have created a new role for the content creation industry, as the latter provides traffic to these companies. From his perspective, Mr. Badenes does see such companies as partners and not as enemies, because they can help in the distribution of content and hence his company would be willing to share revenue as partners in the value chain.

However we should be careful not to overhaul the licensing system too much or allow piracy to continue, as this will affect future quality content creation. We should not forget that out of all the billions of books created, only 10.000 of these are responsible for 50% of the market. To conclude, Mr. Badenes called upon the European Parliament to maintain an Intellectual Property Rights system that keeps the right balance between content creation and content distribution, building in mechanisms to foster cooperation.


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