17 December, 2018
Outcomes of KommAustria/RTR event: "What do we believe: Living in a web of communications, commerce and artificial intelligence"
Panel "Freedom of expression and ensuring diversity: what can we expect of regulation in the age of algorithms?" © David Bohmann
As recently reported, Austrian Regulator KommAustria organised with RTR Media Division an event to address the shift in the media consumption of children and young people and its impact on media policy and regulation on 5 December 2018 in Vienna.
The event revolved around the presentation of a study, based on quantitative and qualitative research methods, into the media usage behaviour of children and young people who are influenced by social media and on-line video platforms in Austria. The research project, which was commissioned by RTR Media Division and KommAustria, was carried out jointly by the Institut für Jugendkulturforschung (Institute for Youth Culture Research) and Wolfgang Tomaschitz of FH Campus Wien (University of Applied Sciences Vienna).
The research, in German language, has now been published, together with an executive summary of the key findings in English:
Despite a resilience in the viewing of traditional linear TV programmes - more than 60% of Austrians still watch TV ‘daily’ - young people under the age of 30, as well as some older people, are turning their backs on linear TV. In particular, educated urban youngsters are using VOD services almost exclusively.
VOD services are replacing certain genres of linear TV programmes. This process will most likely speed up as soon as the majority of households meet the technical prerequisites for migration. So far, only 12.5% of those interviewed currently use VOD services ‘very frequently’. However, judging from the enthusiasm young respondents displayed for Netflix, Amazon Prime and similar services, the future trend is obvious. At present, such services are already used ‘very frequently’ by almost one third of the under-30 age group.
However, it is worth noting that adolescents and young adults are not giving up on traditional news programming. About 47.7% of individuals in the under-30 age group read or listen to news daily. Due to the low level of authenticity currently associated with news spread via social media, conventional media are again receiving more attention: examples include PSB ORF, other public broadcasting corporations and even daily newspapers with a reputation for quality.
Accelerated news reception habits are nonetheless posing a real challenge. Almost 50% of the Austrian population watches videos lasting less than five minutes: this reflects the fast-paced world that is now the norm for online communications and video consumption, and which leaves news programmes with little opportunity to present or analyse topics in much detail.
Against this background, YouTubers and video bloggers are increasingly 'interpreters' or 'guides' for younger people, helping to distil the complexity of daily news streams, pre-selecting topics and providing commentaries from a personal perspective. Almost a quarter of all youngsters regularly follow YouTubers and vloggers. The huge appeal of these services and the loyalty of their viewers appears to stem from their authenticity and the way they personalise the content and language disseminated by official news outlets, which are typically seen by young people as aloof, impersonal and linguistically antiquated.
On the occasion of the event, two panel discussions discussed the challenges arising from the research, including its regulatory implications.
The regulatory panel featured a lively debate on the expectations of regulation in the age of algorithms between Celene Craig, EPRA Chairperson and Deputy CEO of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI); Cornelia Holsten, Chairwoman of the Directors' Conference of the German State Media Authorities (DLM) and Director of the Bremen State Media Authority (brema); Susanne Lackner, Deputy Chair of KommAustria, Marie-Teresa Weber, Public Policy Manager, Facebook and Ingrid Brodnig, EU-Digital Champion Austria.