On 16 March, FEP attended an information day for potential applicants to the call for proposals ICT-19-2017 “Media and content convergence” to support the media industries under the Horizon 2020 programme in the challenge “to make the best use of technology for reaching out to new audiences, adapting to the digital era and thriving in the connected Digital Single Market.” The Commission presented the call, stressing the changes brought about by the digital revolution in content creation, management, distribution and consumption, and highlighting the opportunities this opened in terms of more information and data than ever to create a story, more tools, technology and resources to tell the story and a potentially worldwide audience. The Commission wants to support the European media industry – strong in creating content – in becoming even more technology-driven to compete with technological-strong global (often non-media) players, by making the best of technology, adopting new business models and adapting to the digital era. The call opened on 10 May 2016 and will close on 8 November. It is open to all sectors (including publishing), although the feeling is that it is better adapted to the audiovisual sector. The presentation of project ideas that followed the introduction confirmed to some extent this impression.
The Commission introduced the topic with an outline of the changes brought about the media sector by the digital revolution: content creation increasingly involves users, and the rise of user-generated content (UGC) raises issues of content verification and rights; in content management, providers are losing control of entry points and getting to know the user (via big data analysis) is becoming essential, while UGC and professional content are getting more and more mixed; content distribution has moved to the internet and has become multiplatform and interactive, with an important role played by OTTs and a potential for global reach (as the internet demolishes barriers); content consumption has become digital, takes place online, is pervasive, interactive and creative, participatory and personalised (recommendations, etc.). To sum up, it is no longer a linear world for media, many players and intermediaries are emerging and changes are underway; for the Commission, however, this is not a tragedy, sine at the moment there are more information and data than ever to create a story, more tools, technology and resources to tell it and a potential worldwide audience.
The Commission has therefore planned the call ICT-19-2017 to support the European media industry, strong in creating content, to adopt new technologies and invest in innovation, to become even more technology-driven and compete with technologically strong global (often non-media) players. The challenge is to make the best of technology for reaching out to new audiences, adopt new business models and adapt to and thrive in the digital era. Projects proposed should show and validate new technologies, services and solutions through large scale demonstrations, pilots or close-to-market prototypes exploiting the convergence, interoperability and integration between broadcasting, broadband Internet-based services, audiovisual and social media.
The call will support Innovation Actions that create opportunities for new personal and immersive experiences, aiming to build new services around content aggregation, annotation, mash-ability, verification, analysis, search, media sharing and recommendation, develop immersive and pervasive solutions for increased personalised user experience in content consumption, enable the interaction with content on any device, anywhere, anytime in a multiplatform scenario and/or develop accessibility solutions specifically for converging media and content.
The call will also finance one Coordination and Support Action, aimed to facilitate research and policy exchange and support R&D programmes/activities, dissemination of results and organisation of scientific and/or policy events around media and convergence (also highlighting possible policy shortcomings), through a sustainable European forum of stakeholders representing the evolving media environment.
The budget available for the Innovation Actions is 38 million € and proposals are expected to request 2 to 4 million each; 1 million € is available for Coordination and Support Actions, with proposals expected to apply for the entire sum.
The next session was dedicated to presentations of ideas by potential proposers; 16 presentations were made, starting with Ideal-ist, the international network of ICT National Contact Points that offers expertise in proposal writing and project management, a partner search tool and several other information and advice services, including the organisation of mock evaluations 6 weeks before a submission deadline.
Project presentations displayed proposals dealing with a wide range of topics, from immersive content experiences to creative semantics, from hybrid radio to media information archiving and preservation and to multimedia content management. An interesting proposal from the Handelsblatt Research Institute (an independent research institute under the auspices of the Handelsblatt Publishing Group, Germany‘s leading publisher of business media) seeks to foster economics education through immersive storytelling, improving the understanding of economic issues, especially among younger, people by creating immersive stories using augmented or virtual reality, in cooperation between media outlets, technology companies, designers and game developers.
All the presentations are available from the event’s webpage.
The event was concluded by a “poster session” in which participants could get information about a number of projects running on related topics; in most cases these focused on audiovisual media opr social media.