What are the biggest challenges facing Europe in the audiovisual field? What needs to be done when we have talent, content and industry but revenues tilt towards American platforms? What do we have and what are we missing? These and other current issues are discussed at the Estonian EU Presidency conference on audiovisual content, technology and policy, entitled "Pictured futures: connecting content, tech & policy in audiovisual Europe" on 27-28 November 2017 in Tallinn. Guido Van Nispen, consultant and advisor to the Dutch government on media & innovation is one of the outstanding speakers at the high-level event geared towards industry experts and policymakers, explains.
In your opinion, what are currently the biggest challenges for the European audiovisual sector?
The biggest challenges are created by the stratospheric rise of superplatforms from the US: Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google and Microsoft, and China: Tencent and Alibaba. These superplatforms change the landscape by their sheer global size, capabilities and financial means. And of course the best people around...
If we want to avoid to create a ‘global big data crisis’, comparable to global warming, we need to make sure that we find a way to work with these superplatforms without losing our local skills, talent and capabilities but instead find ways to leverage those in this new setting.
What strategies should policymakers adapt regarding superplatforms? Is there room for competitive offers?
There is hope coming from the superplatforms themselves. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, the oldest of the superplatforms, states the following:
“The only tenable, long-term, stable strategy for a multinational company is going to be about the local opportunity that you create in every country you operate in. I don't believe there's a long-term strategy that says, 'I'm just going to be a rent collector in different places."
Despite these encouraging words, policy makers should be looking closely at these superplatforms. They are becoming ‘common carriers’, and therefore, if the super platforms do not open up enough by themselves, regulation needs to be swiftly put into place to ensure them opening up. And to ensure that local content is being developed and supported.
And yes, there is ample room for competitive offers, especially on the content side. That is where we can connect with our citizens on a content and cultural level.
On a platform level there is potential room if we work together and stimulate innovation. This might be the more challenging part as the superplatforms are not called superplatforms without good reason...
If our audiovisual sector remains fragmented and sinks in a ‘zero-sum-game’ that opportunity might disappear quickly though...But it is up to ourselves not to let that happen. And in the current financial market conditions there is ample money to support new intiatives.
What are your opinions on the digital single market strategy?
It is very important for Europe to offer the best access and distribution for its content and at the same time to make sure that makers are rewarded. This will encourage them to produce new and high quality content time after time. We need a circular economy that can create its own future.
From this perspective it is also important to ensure that the superplatforms are treated as ‘common carriers’ and a unified policy across Europe is implemented towards them. That will avoid too much friction and stimulate growth.
Can Europe become an audiovisual unicorn and stay in the global game? What needs to be done and addressed to achieve this goal?
Yes we can even become a cluster of unicorns! If we address the true needs of our citizens for connectivity between people and avoid going in the ‘arms race’ for ‘global citizens’. The majority of our population in Europe will be very pleased when they get great local content that connects them as people with their neighbours and reflects their own local cultural identity. Together with a huge amount of international (high quality) content available, we should be able to create a great audiovisual future.
This distribution opportunity offered by the superplatforms, combined with solid European regulation and innovation should create an enormous potential to exploit new formats on the new superplatforms. And we know there is a lot of money available for these new formats. So let us make sure we get our share from Europe and give our citizens what they need at the same time.
Guido Van Nispen is active in governance, advisory and investment roles inside powerful, both seasoned and young, innovative and market-leading organisations. His activities and networks expose him to many industry trend and player, and pads his network with a roster of interesting and influential contacts. Guido acts as advisor to the Dutch government on media & innovation at Council for Culture.
In the past, Guido has held several executive and director positions in different European countries both in general and venture management. As CEO of ANP - the largest independent BtB news and information supplier to all Dutch media and organisations in public and private sectors - Guido created one of the most efficient news agencies and increased digitalisation and entry in to the SaaS-based BtB market of news and information management.
See more about the Estonian EU Presidency Conference “PICTURED FUTURES: CONNECTING CONTENT, TECH & POLICY IN AUDIOVISUAL EUROPE” taking place from 27 to 28 November 2017 in Tallinn HERE.