Top managers focus on Internet's effect on Germany
Nov 8, 2007, 18:07 GMT
Munich - 'Medientage Munich 2007' at the Bavarian capital's giant International Congress Center (ICM), gathering Germany's top industry executives, is putting its focus this year on how the Internet has impacted on society and the media.
Meeting since Wednesday under the motto 'Media Yourself - How the Internet is Transforming Media and Society', the Medientage event is a mammoth one, with some 95 panel discussions involving more than 500 experts.
The organizer, Medientage Munich GmbH, also said that a further 160 commercial and non-commercial companies will exhibit products before the event's 21st staging ends on Friday. A print media 'summit' is meanwhile probing the Internet's effect on magazines and newspapers.
Wolf-Dieter Ring, head of the State Central for New Media (BLM), set the tone in his opening speech in which he outlined the problems confronted by current developments in the rapidly-changing media technology, with special attention to digital developments.
'The issue of company models is an important theme for this Medientage, accompanied by such questions as media uses through social networks and user generated content,' Ring noted. In this connectioin, he criticized the intentions of the public networks, ARD and ZDF to expand their digital channels and online offers.
Bavaria's new prime minister, Guenther Beckstein, in his keynote address said he had a great understanding for 'the demands of the industry for simple and clear regulations.'
In the media branch, however, 'the general, individual, political, and economic interests of the companies have to reach a sensible balance.'
Likewise, he called for a 'new arrangement' of the contracts for the ARD and ZDF. And in a reference to their digial planning, the Prime Minister said guarantee by the constitution 'should not be taken as a guarantee for growth at any price.'
The list of panelists at this year's Medientage was again a virtual who's who of the movers and shakers in Germany' media sector, including, among toehrs, Helmut Markwort, chief editor of the weekly news magazine Focus, Michael Boernicke, chairman of the pay TV channel Premiere, Kabel Deutschland chairman Adrian von Hammerstein, and Fritz Raff, head of the first public broadcast channel ARD.
Others included publisher Hubert Burda, Guillaume de Posch, board chairman of the private broadcaster ProSieben Sat.1 Media, Juergen Doetz, president of the Association of Private Broadcasters VPRT, Thomas Grube, head of the Bavarian channel BR, and Ferdinand Kayser, CEO of the Astra satellite company.
Amid debate on a wide range of issues, the panel focused on the controversal question of the so-called proposed 'public value test,' according to which the public networks would examine their digital programming for quantitative and qualitative content.
Markus Schaechter, head of the second German public network ZDF, said the three-phase test should 'examine the new digital programming and the character of the public broadcasters. '
Ring criticised the test, alleging that as it was carried out by the pubcasters' TV Councils and approved by them, it lacked an independent body. Ring also said that the private networks would have to abide by any results of the test.
Both Schaecter and Raff stressed that the test would take into consideration of the private channels' viewpoints, but any decisions would have to be made by the TV channels or the councils. For his part, Doetz denounced the public value test as a 'joke.'© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur