Special reportage from our correspondent in Germany: Reflecting on the 37th Edition of "Medientage" in Munich

Special reportage from our correspondent in Germany: Reflecting on the 37th Edition of
The annual media conference Medientage München 2023, held in Munich at the House of Communication, headquarters of advertising agency Serviceplan Group, marked a significant shift from previous years: Relocating from the conventional and somewhat austere trade fair grounds to the vibrant and artistic Werksviertel neighborhood in the heart of the Bavarian state captial. This change in venue breathed new life into the event and provided a dynamic backdrop with captivating artworks on the walls, fostering a conducive atmosphere for exploration and discussion.
With over 5,000 attendees and more than 350 speakers, the 37th edition of the media conference underlined its position as one of the leading industry gatherings in Europe.

TV Summit: Revenue Challenges

One of the central discussions in Munich revolved around the challenges confronting the media industry. The advertising market has seen a downturn, subscription growth has slowed, and the increase in broadcasting fees has stirred controversy. In response to these challenges, industry leaders emphasized the need for increased collaboration among competitors.
Eun-Kyung Park, the head of Disney's German operations, declared, "The future lies in collaboration." She emphasized the importance of open-mindedness towards all types of co-productions, asserting that local content remains essential for Disney to maintain a distinct identity.
Henrik Pabst, Chief Content Officer and CEO of Seven.One Entertainment Group, advocated for more cooperation between streaming platforms, given the high production costs in Germany. To facilitate co-productions, Pabst proposed shorter broadcast windows for all co-producers. His group was exploring synergies with shareholder MFE-MediaForEurope to make this a reality.
Katharina Behrends, GM for GSA at MediaForEurope, clarified that this collaboration primarily concerns administrative matters, highlighting the importance of maintaining program autonomy in local markets.

Video Trends 2023: Finding and Harnessing Diversity
Transparency and discoverability on smart TVs and other user interfaces took center stage in the "Video Trends 2023" discussion. Media platforms and interfaces, especially smart TVs, have become pivotal, and ensuring transparent criteria for sorting and recommending video content has become imperative for enhancing media diversity. Experts deliberated on these issues, focusing on the transparency and findability of public-value content and how providers can implement the regulatory requirements in a user-friendly manner.
Bernd Riefler, CEO of veed analytics, delivered an inspiring keynote, highlighting the significance of global ecosystems such as Google and Amazon in connecting devices and products, ultimately enhancing content discoverability. "The discoverability of video content will continue to grow in the coming years."
The discussion also featured insights from Andreas Hombach, Director Insights Division at Kantar, who presented various results of the annual study of the state media regulatory authorities "Video Trends 2023". The discussion was joined by Thorsten Schmiege, President of the BLM (Bavarian Regulatory Authority for New Media), Elke Walthelm, EVP Content & Technology and MD of Sky Germany, and Tanja Hüther, Head of Distribution Board of pubcaster ARD.
Evan Shapiro: Rethinking Media Business Models
Evan Shapiro, well-known opinionated speaker, whose presentation was transmitted by video due to illness, urged media professionals to reevaluate their business models. He asserted that the next era of media began in 2019 when Disney introduced its D2C platform. Shapiro argued that the challenge for media companies is to manage their existing business while building what they need - a business that caters to the needs of their most valuable consumers. Learning from both the failures and successes of the U.S. media landscape is essential.

"I Am Your Co-Writer": AI in TV and Streaming Productions
The panel titled "I Am Your Co-Writer" delved into the integration of artificial intelligence in television and streaming content creation. This discussion explored the possibilities of AI in storytelling, content development, and production workflows.
Prof. Taç Romey, of the Munich’s film school HFF, introduced the session, emphasizing the role of AI in creating original narratives. The discussion revealed how AI can take known content and add an individual interpretation, providing a fresh perspective.
Markus Schäfer, President & CEO of ZDF Studios, referred to generative AI as an "efficiency booster" when applied to TV program elements with clear patterns. Nikola Kohl, CEO and producer at All3Media’s south & browse, demonstrated how generative AI opened new storytelling possibilities, particularly in historical documentaries. Max Wiedemann, Chief Business Development & Chief Production Officer of Leonine Studios, praised generative AI as a "super tool" when used as a collaborative effort between humans and AI.

AI: A Dominant Theme
Artificial intelligence emerged as a dominant theme throughout the event, with discussions highlighting its potential and challenges across various aspects of media and technology. The manifold applications of A.I. will change the media world permanently and offer countless possibilities. Development is still in its infancy and the use of generative AI should be as transparent as possible, media makers and representatives from media policy and supervision agreed.

(from our correspondent in Germany Lühr-Martin Lemkau)

photos @MedientageMünchen

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