Q&A with Augusto Preta
Andrea Millwood Hargrave, Director General IIC interviews Augusto Preta - CEO, ITMedia Consulting, Chairman, IIC Italian Chapter
Q. You are both a consultant working within the content industry and also a long term supporter of the IIC and the head of the Chapter in Italy. May I start by asking you about the title of your organisation (ITMedia Consulting): Do you think the word 'media' still has a resonance, and if so what is it? Why not call everything 'content'?
A. I understand your question and agree that, in an era of disintermediation and convergence, the word media is losing its appeal. The question is whether ‘content’ can substitute for the "traditional" word ‘media’. I would say content may work better but it can be inappropriate as well. Content (and service) concerns are not about infrastructure. If you prefer, it is the software part compared with hardware, but it is not specific to a sector related to the consumer for example, as media is. Indeed you can have content related to different parts of the digital industry that has nothing to do with the entertainment industry, which is where ‘media has been for all its history. So ‘content’ can take the place of ‘media’, but it is not the definitive answer in my view.
Q. What are the really significant changes that you have seen in the content space over the last twenty years? And in which part of the content ecology are they most prevalent - audience/user behaviour, production, ownership etc.?
A. I believe they are all linked to the internet. Historically I would say web 2.0 and the social networks, video on demand and Netflix, big data and the industry 4.0 (IoT, Cloud, AI). They are all consumer driven revolutions that are reshaping and fundamentally changing the media/content industry and beyond.
Q. How important has the access to technology been - is it a key pillar for the development of Italy's economy - and is the creative sector behind in its deployment of technological change? Why do you say that?
A. The creative industry needs to follow technology changes and also to foster this kind of development. Some obstacles are delaying this transition, mainly broadband penetration which is still very low, piracy and resistance from broadcasters to enter the internet arena. I now see a better attitude towards technology and growth for the new services (non-linear, VOD, video, news and music online).
Q. What are the key challenges for the media/content sector as a whole in terms of its development over the next three to five years?
A. Copyright is a major issue [see the article from Intermedia featured in this edition of PolicyWorld], with the need to find a better balance between copyright owners and consumers. A new copyright regime in the digital era should be the main target for policy makers around the world.
Q. You have been a key member of the IIC team over many years and IIC Italy will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with a conference. Why do you feel it is important to mark this event - what will the meeting cover and what do you expect to achieve from the meeting?
A. The Italian Chapter together with the Italian NRA, Agcom, and the support of RAI, the Italian public service broadcaster who will host the event, will organize this Conference to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
We want to highlight the leading role of the IIC in convergence since its establishment (converging telecoms, media and technology industries), and the milestones of this convergence in the last twenty years, also witnessed by international key players, from industry, institutions and academia. Some of the most distinguished people in the TMT world will take part. Amongst them is Dr Robert Pepper now at Facebook; Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CONNECT at the European Commission, the Presidents of the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC); the CEOs of the main industry players (Vodafone, Wind/3, Mediaset, etc...). Anyone interested can join this event and is welcomed to Rome on the 9th and 10th November this year.
Q. What are the challenges for the TMT sector that the IIC must address, in your view, over the next few years?
A. As a member of the board I was, even if modest, an active contributor of the IIC value proposition. Therefore I will continue to provide my suggestion to the people in charge with the IIC programmes, who made a great job in the past giving to the IIC a distinctive and central role in the debate on future policy and strategy worldwide.