25,000 visitors total over three days at MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin and re:publica

Müller und Dreyer

l.t.r.: Ursula Weidenfeld (freelance journalist and columnist), Michael Müller (ruling mayor of Berlin, Berlin senate office), Malu Dreyer (Minister President Rhineland-Palatinate), Anja Zimmer (director, Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg) and Helge Jürgens (managing director, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg)

25,000 visitors total over three days at MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin and re:publica | Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier calls for digital democratisation | Berlin’s ruling mayor advocates for more courage and commitment to media pluralism and media literacy in opening speech

Berlin / Potsdam – The three-day event MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin (MCB) and re:publica ended on Wednesday night after three days of events with a combined total of 25,000 visitors. The sixth MCB edition themed “Playing for Keeps” with its 2016 speakers in 63 sessions was dedicated to the enormous economic and societal changes brought about by digitalisation. MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin (MCB) is organised by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (MBB) and Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg (mabb) and was yet again held at STATION Berlin in cooperation with re:publica this year. Anja Zimmer, mabb director, and Helge Jürgens, MBB managing director, were delighted about the diverse programme, renowned speakers and pioneering topics.

“We are taking stock of a successful MEDIA CONVENTION 2019! All of us have to deal with a rapidly changing digital landscape and, where possible, actively help design this transformation. All areas of life have long been influenced by the digital realm. Development cycles of the past are no longer a standard for the future and the speed of change. The media industry is undergoing a shift, as is society. We are happy to have contributed to the discourse regarding the best possible digital future with MCB 2019,” said Helge Jürgens. “We cannot just leave users to deal with the challenges of digitalisation by themselves. Safeguarding media pluralism is a task for all of society. One of our goals was to make clear how important up-to-date regulation is for our society in the context of MCB. To safeguard plurality of opinion, we need clear rules which must then be implemented. Support is just as important, mainly for local journalism as well as media education. Those with media skills and autonomy can use digitalisation as an opportunity. I am happy that we discussed all these topics at MCB. We can only develop ideas for a diverse media future together,” added Anja Zimmer. 

#MCB19 and #rp19 opened with a welcoming speech by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier who emphasised that the issue at hand could not be to “digitalise democracy”, but rather to “democratise the digital realm”. Berlin’s ruling mayor, Michael Müller, and Malu Dreyer, Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate and chairwoman of the federal broadcasting commission, agreed on one sentiment in the opening of MCB19 on stage 7: we need courage. In his welcoming speech, Michael Müller emphasised the fact that politics needed to take a stance for media literacy and pluralism. Malu Dreyer posed the question of how we intend to shape a digital society.

In the context of the European elections at the end of May 2019, day 1 of MCB also addressed the topic of “Microtargeting and Political Advertising on the Social Web”. Regarding the catchword of vote rigging, Simon Hegelich, professor for political data science at TU München, advocated for a calm approach: “The media shouldn’t jump on every hot-button topic!” The panel consisting of Semjon Rens (Facebook Germany), Tabea Wilke (botswatch Technologies), Manon Metz (DIRK METZ Kommunikation), Anja Zimmer (mabb) and Daniel Fiene (Rheinische Post) dealt with the question of how political advertising has to be defined to create a clear framework for all and to facilitate fair and effective regulation. “We don’t have to reinvent a lot here,” said Dreyer. “We just have to transfer our values from the analogue to the digital realm.” The participants of the panel “#gehwählen – Europawahl 2019” (“#govote – European Elections 2019”), Edmund Stoiber (retired minister president of Bavaria/ProSiebenSat.1 Media), Eko Fresh (rapper & actor), Ann Cathrin Riedel (LOAD e.V.), Funda Vanroy (presenter & actress) and presenter Cherno Jobatey took a fervent stance in favour of voting in the European elections.

“In the time I’m speaking here, Google and Facebook will have collected billions of data items and added them to their existing data. And the algorithm keeps on working.” Federal competition authority president Andreas Mundt used no uncertain terms in his keynote titled “Big Tech reviewed: the competition for data and equal opportunities on the Internet” when it came to the large platforms and explained the competition authority’s Facebook ruling. According to Mundt, it was high time for people to tackle the issue of data processing and to demand equal opportunities on the Internet.

The thematic direction of stage 6 was mapped out by the opening panel “Point of no Return – Going All In with Digital”, which had Holger Enßlin (Sky Deutschland), Manuel Uhlitzsch (PANTALEON Films, PANTAFLIX), Eun-Kyung Park (ProSiebenSat.1 Media) and Nadine Bilke of ZDFneo discussing strategies for the TV sector. (Go to video “New Players on the Streaming Market”) The current shifts on the international streaming market were the topic of the session “Game of VoDs: New Challengers for Netflix and Amazon?” featuring Nicole Agudo Berbel (ProSiebenSat.1), TanjaHüther (ARD and BR), Florian Kerkau (Goldmedia), Eric Scherer (France Televisions) and Tobias Schiwek (Divimove). The priorities set by Amazon Originals Germany regarding attractive content were outlined by Philip Pratt, head of German Originals, in the talk “Chasing the Prime Position”. The question “All sports, all leagues, all countries: is sports streaming headed for a breakthrough?” was debated by Zeljko Karajica (7Sports), Dirc Seemann (SPORT1), Roman Steuer (Sky Deutschland) and Stephanie Struppler (Discovery Deutschland).

For day 2 of the event, stage 7 hosted discussions about measures for safeguarding media pluralism – in rural areas, for instance. The Babelsberg Media Innovation Center (MIZ) kicked off its funding programme “Media Utopia for Berlin and Brandenburg” in this context. Its aim is to develop ideas for the design of an innovative, digital and equal-opportunity media future. The discussion “Doing Utopia! Setting the stage for an innovative media future.” had Frederik Fischer, Rebecca Ahlen, Tabea Grzeszyk, Jon Hill and Manouchehr Shamsrizi explaining how their projects were part of designing this topic. State secretary Hendrik Fischer (Brandenburg Ministry for Economy and Energy) used the session “Rural, digital, seeking: local infrastructure and media supply.” to emphasise that the opportunities brought about by digitalisation could only be fully utilised in rural areas with an up-to-date digital infrastructure. Various projects were discussed, among others the project “Smart Village” by mabb, which makes local and regional news accessible to users in different ways. “The demand for local information in rural areas is high. At the same time, it is important to ensure that local journalism always stays independent,” said journalist and author Ursula Weidenfeld.

The session “What’s in a Game? Game engines as drivers for film, XR and industry” had Thomas Bedenk (Exozet Berlin), Andreas Suika (Epic Games) and Pascal Tonecker (CRYENGINE Enterprise Solutions) illustrating how games technologies can be harnessed across industries. Authentic storytelling for an increasingly diverse society were the topic of the session “The stuff of dreams: more diverse perspectives for better content”. “More time and money need to go into the development of diverse stories,” said Skadi Loist (Film University Babelsberg) in the discussion with Tyron Ricketts (Panthertainment), Emrah Ertem (casting director) and Martina Zöllner (rbb). In the session “Fighting Disinformation Through Technology”, Hazel Baker (Reuters) spoke with Sofia Diogo Mateus (DW News), Isa Sonnenfeld (Google News Lab DACH & Rolemodels) and Jenni Sargent (First Draft News) about the “challenge of not only filtering out fake news, but also identifying real news which were taken out of their context”.

On day 3 of MCB; the programme of stage 7 was dedicated to the ways in which media literacy promotion can influence the safeguarding of media pluralism: “The speed of the digital world requires suitable political and technological answers,” emphasised Alexandra Borchardt (Reuters Institute) in her keynote for the panel “The new abnormal. Hate, Fakes, Mobbing. How can we make the web a better place?”. According to Borchardt, this included modern regulation as well as media education addressing all age groups to counteract knowledge deficits. Her points were underscored by Markus Heidmeier (Kooperative Berlin), Teresa Bücker (Edition F) and Marco Holtz (mabb) in the subsequent discussion. Those with media skills can use digitalisation as an opportunity.

The next edition of MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin will take place from 6 to 8 May 2020.
All session videos from stages 6 and 7 and the Media Cube are available here:

All images are available here: