that traditional media companies lose much of their exclusivity on the information
market and that, as a result, media companies not only face competition from each
other (within the sector) but also from new entrants and new players, who can now
bypass the traditional media distribution channels. The latter is also the case for the
UK Government Online initiative that aggregates all government information and
services in one place. Before its existence, media like the BBC interpreted
government press releases. They never went directly to the public.
Looking for revenue models
Low entry levels do not imply however, that new content players will survive
automatically or that they will be able to make a business out of it. This is raised in
MUDIA Deliverable 1.2 on drivers of change and future scenarios of the media
industry. The burst of the Internet bubble and its repercussions on the stock market
in general, the decline of the (online) advertising market and the lack of viable
online revenue streams in particular, have made it difficult for many existing and
new players to survive. The recent Internet shake out has reduced their numbers,
though they have not completely disappeared from the market.
Both Transitions Online and Vilaweb seem to prove the latter. They are addressing
promising niches. TOL offers specialized quality journalism on the post communist
countries for interest audiences worldwide. It is working hard to become self
sufficient via diversification of its revenues (e.g. pay for content schemes, content
syndication, advertising/sponsorship, e commerce, conferences, consulting).
hopes to become less dependent on grants and money from foundations. The
objective of Vilaweb is to establish itself as the main online news and information
destination of the Catalan community in Spain and abroad. It now looks for
continuation and expansion of its business. It is among the few net native
multimedia news companies that are making profits.
Competition for the audience s attention and time
Generating profits is not the main objective of Transitions Online or of the Guardian
Unlimited (GU) but both are looking for self sufficiency, for ways of covering their
24. A competitive information market is thought to favour change and innovation in the media,
providing the context is right (See MUDIA D4.2). The latter relates to the promotion of open
standards and the importance of industry forums to support open standards and to support
collaboration between different actors (e.g. between telecom and media for the mobile delivery
of news and information). In the E VRT pilot, this is also acknowledged in relation to the MHP
standard for set top boxes.
25. In favour of a diversity of revenue streams was proposed as one of the lessons for the media
business in MUDIA Deliverable 4.2: Paying for traditional news content on the Internet will
continue to be problematic because there are always free online alternatives available.
Therefore, most pay for content initiatives are not based on full subscription models. Access to
the general websites remains free of charge, but increasingly requests for payment are made
for additional services. Selling archived news is the most common means of extracting online
news revenues. Personalised news may be charged in the future as well (Cf. D1.2). However,
the crucial point is that paying for value added content would not constitute the only possible
revenue stream. Rather, a diversity of revenue streams is seen as the most feasible way of
finding revenues for online media.
26. Interesting is however, that Vilaweb is increasingly diversifying its portfolio towards television
and print media. Its motivation for not being an Internet player only is branding. Establishing
and maintaining the brand is thought to require a presence on all media platforms. This is difficult
for net only players, especially for new ones, as is raised by TOL. The importance of branding
is acknowledged as one of the new drivers of change in MUDIA D1.2 on future scenarios.