7 Topics, 7 Weeks
6. We must come together to secure lasting success for the digital economy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Over recent weeks, the debate around cutting-edge media policy has gained tremendous impetus. The current situation is under the spotlight and being picked apart on all sides – by media houses, associations and politicians. A leading industry event, MEDIENTAGE MUNICH was staged under the banner "Media. Trust. Machines – Confidence in the new media society” and addressed how media houses can maintain and enhance their credibility in times of fake news and filter bubbles.
While digitalization presents many new opportunities for us as media houses, it also brings new challenges. We need to re-examine existing business models and adapt them to the global competitive arena. It is crucial that we receive legislators’ support in shaping digital transformation. But that support has not been forthcoming. A topical example is the European Union’s proposal on e-privacy regulation.
State-of-the-art data protection is important. But these days, a lot of issues are happily lumped together under the label “consumer protection.” While that may be well intended, the rigid standards of consumer protection undermine the business foundation of European companies providing digital offerings financed by advertising – and they lead to devestation. Instead of providing users with greater security, the new regulation favors the global data industry’s big three – Google, Amazon and Facebook. We cannot sit idly by and allow this to happen. That is why we are calling on German politicians to take a firm stand in the upcoming tripartite negotiations and ensure that this disastrous digital policy does not go from being a Brussels nightmare to a reality in Germany.
Our own strategic response to the issue involves forging alliances in order to implement cutting-edge data protection. The new login alliance that we established with RTL and United Internet is a case in point. It aims to create a simple and secure way for users to access all the initiative’s online services across all sectors with the same login data instead of having to sign in to each site separately. This lets us generate added value for all market participants – without Brussels exerting any regulatory pressure whatsoever. Not only are we establishing standards, we are also bolstering the local digital market.
Nevertheless, we can only hope to cultivate a successful digital economy over the long term by joining hands with policymakers. Legislators must enact regulations in tune with the times so that we can finally step up against the global giants on a level playing field. What we need is a digital New Deal that paves the way to competing with the likes of Google on an equal footing. As part of the process, we – media companies and policymakers – must see it as our joint task and social responsibility to champion our distinctive media plurality and diversity of opinions. The dual system must be updated and strengthened to serve en bloc as a counterweight to the global giants’ monopolistic algorithms with their lack of transparency.
My proposal is Media Regulation 4.0. This would entail subsidizing socially relevant content, irrespective of institution. As public service broadcasters who face major challenges, private media companies who are already undergoing far-reaching modernization, and policymakers who enact the regulatory framework, we can and must join hands to drive this change process forward. The first step might be bringing together directors, company executives, media regulators and the minister presidents of the German federal states in a closed strategy meeting.
Ladies and gentlemen, there can be no question that, in this day and age of digitalization, we must think outside the old boxes . It is our only option if we hope to prevent the narrowing of our political horizons through filter bubbles. The exemplary character and autonomy of our media landscape, with its complementary public service and private broadcasters, depends on us finding a joint solution. Look no further than the plethora of statements and press releases that flanked MEDIENTAGE MUNICH as testimony to the urgency with which we need to join forces and strengthen our coalition. I cannot emphasize this enough.