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Key issues and future prospects in the audiovisual field to be discussed at the Estonian Presidency visionary conference in Tallinn

8. November 2017 - 11:45
Mati Kaalep, Adviser for the Audiovisual Field at the Estonian Ministry of Culture and one of the organisers of the visionary conference. Photo: Virge Viertek
Mati Kaalep, Adviser for the Audiovisual Field at the Estonian Ministry of Culture and one of the organisers of the visionary conference. Photo: Virge Viertek

Just like Skype changed telecom, Uber the taxi and Spotify the music industry, the audiovisual sector will most likely experience an impact on the similar scale in the near future. In late November, leading experts and visionaries from the audiovisual sector will gather in Tallinn to discuss where the contemporary media and film industries are headed, and how to make the best use of these opportunities and challenges in Europe.

The objective of the conference is to assess the impact of technological changes on the EU audiovisual landscape more broadly by looking beyond the specific laws and grant schemes that currently regulate the sector.

It is already apparent that we cannot proceed in the old way. This is clearly illustrated by the exceptional ease of piracy, which in turn, affects the functioning of the entire audiovisual sector. If a film is not released sufficiently quickly in a country, the consumers will find the opportunity to access it illegally on the Internet, and the effective enforcement of copyrights on a large scale becomes extremely complicated. The global expansion of Netflix and the movement of content creation from individual producers directly to the intermediaries prove that the amendment of laws may not provide the solution.

However, the mediation of audiovisual content is only one of the great changes that are accompanying technological advances – the changes occurring in the mediums that enable content consumption may be just as great. The conference will also focus on new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, which, if they are introduced to a sufficient degree, may significantly impact the functioning of the entire sector in the near future.
In addition, the market is also being changed by new resources, which were not even valued before. For example, service providers are now able to gather considerable amount of data about people’s consumption habits based on their viewing of the most ordinary films. On the one hand, such information can provide significant input for the creation and mediation of content, while on the other; it might feel rather intrusive towards the rights of the consumers. Are such techniques acceptable in the European cultural space and will it also impact our behaviour, or the content that we are provided in the future? The focus of the conference will be on these and many other topics in late November in Tallinn and with a bit of luck, some of these issues might find answers.

The conference will present an impressive line-up of renowned speakers. One of the main keynote speeches will be presented by Jeremy Darroch, the CEO of Sky Group who will analyse the dynamics of broadcasting and audiovisual media in the context of future technologies. The Sky Group is Europe’s largest entertainment company and, based on the huge investments it makes into audiovisual content annually (approximately £6 billion per year), it is undoubtedly an influential trend setter.

Jeremy Darroch’s presentation will be proceeded by an entire day of fascinating panel discussions and presentations about the synergy of technology and the audiovisual landscape. For example, Barak Berkowitz, Director of Operations and Strategy at the MIT Media Lab, the digital technologies research centre at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S., will speak about the impact on society of companies that are directed at accelerated growth. His thoughts will no doubt be echoed in the subsequent panel discussion, where the representatives of the sector will speak about the development of business models based on algorithms and new technologies. Among others, the panel of speakers will include Efe Cakarel, the founder and CEO of MUBI, a company focused on the streaming of art-house films. The participants in the subsequent discussions will include representatives from Google, Netflix, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, the European Commission and the European Film Agency Directors (EFADs). The conference will be closed by Lord David Puttnam, a British film producer who won the Academy Award for Best Picture for Chariots of Fire and has been the  head of Columbia pictures and a deputy chairman for Channel 4. Lord Puttnam will take a closer look at Europe from inside out and sees the new digital developments as adding value for good filmmaking.


A visionary conference in audiovisual field entitled Pictured Futures: Connecting Content, Tech & Policy in Audiovisual Europe will take place on 27 and 28 November as part of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, at the initiative of the Estonian Ministry of Culture and in cooperation with the Black Nights Film Festival and the Estonian Film Institute, supported by the European Commission and Enterprise Estonia.
More information on the conference available on the Ministry of Culture website.


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