Who Has the Power? Video Platforms vs. TV – the mabb at the MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin


Christoph Krachten (CEO, Videodays) and YouTube star Philipp Steuer discussing the new YouTube generation; Credit: mabb

As a cooperating partner of the MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin, the State Media Authority Berlin-Brandenburg (mabb) organized the media and net-political portion of the congress, taking place on Stages 5 to 7 at the STATION Berlin from May 5 to 6, 2015. Stage 7 featured renowned experts from the media industry and politics discussing the challenges and power structures of converging media worlds and looking for solutions to the questions raised through the spread of media content over the internet, as well as at the intersections of net and media politics. Dr. Hans Hege, Director of the mabb (see pictured below), opened with the statement that no type of power exists permanently and that, because of this, the media sector should also be subject to institutional control of power. In the keynote that followed, Professor Dr. Bernhard Pörksen appealed: “We must stop thinking about power in institutional and monolithic forms. Power is omnipresent and systematic.”

This was then the motto for the 20 panels and presentations that followed, featuring more than 40 speakers: Olaf Scholz, Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, stressed that media politics was and is a central question for democracy, and that consumers must have optimum handling and control made possible to them. It is because of this, according to him, that regulations need to be developed. One thing was for certain for Scholz: “Berlin does net-neutrality. We’re all for it, of course!” The different issues and aspects concerning net-neutrality were later the focus of the presentation by Thomas Lohninger, speaker for the Initiative für Netzfreiheit (Initiative for Net-Freedom), as well as the subsequent panel which featured, among other things, Dr. Cara Schwarz-Schilling from the Federal Network Agency and Alexander Scheuer from Telekom going head-to-head. Previously, Jan Kottmann from Google and Ulrich Kelber, the Parliamentary State Secretary for the Federal Minister for Justice and Consumer Protection, had taken on specific issues concerning the power of platforms. Finally, public wireless LAN networks within the field of tension between politics, economy and justice were examined.

Day 2 began with a keynote by media scholar Bertram Gugel, in which he took on the idea of the nature of power being as fleeting in the digital world as it is in the physical. In the course of the speech he illustrated the challenges facing the, until recently, unchallenged market leader YouTube. Though Gugel sees Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, Vessel and others as having some homework to do, he still views them as constituting serious competition for YouTube.

In the further course of the day, Christoph Krachten (Videodays CEO), Philipp Steuer, Nela Lee and Alexander Giesecke presented a new generation of YouTubers who joined them in a discussion on what factors help in successfully presenting videos on YouTube. Nela Lee got to the heart of the matter, and voiced their unanimous opinion, when she stated: “YouTube is a fun side-line, but no foundation.” Rising stars should definitely make sure to finish school and learn a profession.

Olaf Scholz, First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg; credit: mabb

Philipp Sackl, lead designer at Mozilla, followed that talk with his declaration that “users decide according to simplicity”. One should know what kind of effects changes to the standard settings of a browser will have for content findability. Google lost four percent in market shares when Firefox switched its default search from Google to Yahoo in the US – the biggest loss for the giant from Mountain View since 2009. In his discussion with Dr. Marcus Dimpfel (RTL Media Group) and Studio71 Managing Director Ronald Horstman on the cooperation of established broadcasting stations with YouTube, Bertram Gugel once again emphasized how important it is for topics to have a place on the platform which don’t necessarily have a large audience, but which do serve a niche. Marcus Dimpfel pointed out that: “television used to be a central medium, today it’s just one of many possible screens.”

Still, strategies should not be solely focused on YouTube, but also serve other platforms. The panelists were all in agreement that linear television is not dead. Ronald Horstman emphasized that events and experiences would still be consumed in a linear fashion in the future, no matter what screen was being used. Julia Lettinger from Sky Germany shared that opinion: “You just have to keep taking a look at the added-value of live content.” Felix Blank, Laola1.TV, and David Hiltscher, ESL.TV, expanded on that point of view, stating how important it was to make sure to publicize content in communities and over platforms and partnerships before the broadcast.

Watch recordings of the sessions on Stage 7 as produced by ALEX TV here and on our YouTube playlist.

Head of the Senate Chancellery und Secretary of State, Björn Böhning; credit: mabb

One quick note on the mabb’s own behalf: the mabb is actively committed to women’s issues at every level of our institution. It was our intention to have an equal split of men and women discussing the set topics within the scope of mabb@MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin. The mabb contacted a number of female experts for the respective topics – experienced representatives as well as newcomers, from national and international environments. It may sound like an excuse, but we received cancellations from almost all of the contacted female experts. The reasons for the cancellations were varied: first off is the fact that there are very few women in leadership positions within the media sector. Others are not authorized to speak at events. Some aren’t comfortable debating within the framework of a congress like the MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin. The mabb tried its best to motivate them, but, unfortunately, we weren’t always successful. The mabb hopes to be able to get more women onboard for future appearances within the scope of upcoming events.