SPEECH [44 Kb]
The future of content markets: Business cannibals or media partners. Viviane Reding at Global Digital Magazine Media 2.0 Conference (CeBIT)
Viviane Reding. Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media

Hannover, 14 March 2007

"Media Two-point-zero" heralds a new age of publishing. For those publishers that

User content and established media

Let me explain by telling you about a recent incident in California that illustrates the interaction of user-generated content and established media.

Late one evening last November, an Iranian student was sitting in a library on the campus of the University of California. Two policemen entered and asked him for identification. There's a rule that students have to carry ID after 11p.m., so they were within their rights. When he refused to produce ID, they stunned him with a Taser stun gun. In fact they stunned him four times.

What happened next is instructive. The incident was captured on video using a mobile phone. The quality was poor – but it showed the officers repeatedly stunning this unfortunate student as he did not obey their instructions.

The video was posted on YouTube, triggering reactions from all around the world, many of them posted on YouTube as videos. YouTube broke the story and provided a platform for a virtual "vox pop" of reactions from around the globe.

At this point the professional media came into the story. They investigated the story and soon found key facts that had been overlooked. The student felt the police had picked on him because of his ethnic origins and initially refused to produce ID; he also suffers from a medical condition that may have affected his ability to respond to police instructions. The Los Angeles Times also followed up on the enquiry that the university authorities and the police launch and the law suit. And to close the loop, there is now a Wikipedia entry that archives all the links to both established media sources and user media.

YouTube broke the story at global level; and as public reactions rippled back, the story hit the headlines in established media – which gave it visibility outside of the Web 2.0 domain – and then editorial discipline came into play to provide a fuller set of facts.

Conclusions: the media scene is changing; user-generated content is adding its own dynamic; established media is not being directly cannibalized – there are synergies and we should work on developing them.

But this is not a business partnership, at least, not yet. There are tensions; look for example at the issue of re-use of copyright material on such Web 2.0 sites. (By the way I should credit the Online Journalism Review for drawing my attention to this story.)1

What then are the drivers of the trends that that will give rise to this new Media 2.0?

I would like to suggest three of them. First, scale economies and network effects; second emerging markets for new content on line also create new markets; third, user communities generating content to form new markets for professional publishers.

are fit and smart and who are willing to adapt, I believe there many new synergies will emerge that offer interesting business models not just for Internet firms but also for publishers coming from the magazine world. That is what I mean by Media 2.0