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ACTION LINE 4.1: OBSERVING AND ANALYSING THE MULTIMEDIA CONTENT MARKET

4.1.1. BACKGROUND

Given the rapid change and the highly diverse nature of the information content industry, largely composed of SMEs, a flexible and dynamic approach for programme implementation is required in close dialogue with industry actors and users of various sectors. Methods, approaches and the results obtained will need to be periodically reviewed in order to ensure that during the programme's four year duration the right objectives are maintained and accomplished in the most effective and efficient way. Increasing internationalisation and convergence require the adoption of a transnational and cross-sectoral approach.

The successful experience derived from the IMPACT programme, particularly in relation to the strategic studies and the Member States studies, will guide future actions. Such studies play an essential role in fine-tuning Community policy actions, raising awareness among corporate organisations and users,. and in providing basic elements for the Commission and national governments in developing policies and strategies.

4.1.2. OBJECTIVES

The principal objective is to contribute to an understanding of the opportunities, changes and trends in the multimedia content industry. This understanding will be obtained through common analysis and discussions, scenario development and common monitoring of the markets concerned and the problems encountered. The resulting intelligence should boost confidence in the market, facilitate new initiatives, especially benefit SMEs and help in defining and implementing public policies.

  • The objectives will therefore be:
  • to articulate the aspirations of the content industries and the information user communities;
  • to envision long-term scenarios, updated whenever justified by major international developments in markets, technologies, industries and policies;
  • to investigate key issues of common interest to market actors from different sectors and from different Member States, such as legal aspects and quality assurance;
  • to examine obstacles to market development and recommendations to the industries, administrations and users to overcome them;
  • to guide the execution of INFO2000, making recommendations on orientations and priorities.

4.1.3. ACTIONS

Senior experts from the content industry, user communities and from Member States will be convened to monitor, analyse and discuss the impact of multimedia on the content industry and on the different actors in the information value chain. The composition of the meetings will reflect the various segments of content creation, distribution and use, as well as regulatory aspects affecting the content dimension, such as copyright issues, personal data protection, media convergence, universal service, liability and security issues. They will thus serve as a focus for discussion, exchange of experience and co-operation between the various sectors of the content industry, between European and national policy makers, and between the supply and user sides of the content market.

The senior experts will be nominated by the Commission, in close consultation with the representative professional organisations and the Member States. In addition, specific task fora will be set up to examine relevant issues and the MIDAS network will report periodically on developments in the content sector. The activities will also be fed by the relevant observatories, research institutes and consultancies. Equally, the experience gained in identifying, elaborating and discussing legal issues relevant to the European content industry will be drawn upon.

Actions will be launched to monitor changes in the European and global content markets and provide in-depth analysis of key issues, in close dialogue with the senior experts. These activities will be grouped around four main themes : the current and future market structure, including the updating and possible extension of the IMPACT Member States' studies, common problems within the European content Industry, strategic developments and competitiveness, and supporting governmental policies.

An annual review of the European content industry to provide an overview of the current situation, highlight problems and give perspectives in the multimedia content sector will be supported for production under the auspices of the industry.

4.1.4 EXPLOITATION OF SYNERGY

Synergies will be pursued with related activities of the Commission (information society initiatives, audio-visual policy, R&D framework programme), other international organisations, Members States and relevant observatories.

4.1.5. EXPECTED RESULTS

These activities will contribute to the objectives of programme cost effectiveness optimisation, of synergy with relevant global and national public and private initiatives and of facilitation of structural adaptation, especially for SMEs. The results will be presented in relevant workshops, conferences and publications and will be disseminated electronically via the I'M Europe WWW services and by the MIDAS network.

ACTION LINE 4.2.: SPREADING THE USE OF MULTIMEDIA CONTENT STANDARDS

4.2.1 BACKGROUND

Standards for the structuring and presentation of data are essential for the multimedia industry to facilitate the exchange and re-use of information in electronic form. In such a new area many different organisations develop specifications. For developers of new systems as well as for end-users it is very difficult to keep track of developments in order to take the best decisions.

4.2.2 OBJECTIVES

To provide all market actors with an overview of existing and developing standards and specifications for information structuring and presentation and to obtain a better understanding in the content industries of the benefits of applying these standards and specifications. This will enable considerable improvements in the exploitation, access, maintenance and re-use of content.

4.2.3 ACTIONS

Actions will mainly consist of preparing and widely disseminating technical documentation and organising platforms for discussion through workshops and an electronic forum. In particular, the following actions will be implemented:

  • A List of Standards and Specifications for the multimedia content industry with regular updatings, published in print and electronically for wide dissemination, e.g. via I'M Europe, MIDAS-NET.
  • Two workshops per year on priority topics of Action Line 3.1 and targeting specific audiences; feedback of results to industry, users and standardisation fora.
  • Publication of reports for guidance on standards implementation; case studies on availability and use of standards-based business services for SMEs.
  • Surveys on standards products and services, their features and functionalities, and the adoption of standards by market products.
  • Operation of an Electronic Discussion Forum on the Internet for exchange of ideas and expressions, as a conduit for input into the standardisation process and particularly aiming at participants from SMEs.

4.2.4 EXPLOITATION OF SYNERGY

The scope of these activities will be defined in close co-operation with the Commission's service responsible for the European Standardisation policy. Appropriate measures and liaisons will be undertaken to ensure that the results will fit into broader initiatives such as a generalised "Standards Documentation Centre", covering all areas of Standardisation. The input for the Standards List will be collected by experts active in the standardisation process.

4.2.4 EXPECTED RESULTS

These actions will result in improved transparency and a better understanding of the benefits of Standards and Specifications by all market actors. By providing more and better information on existing and emerging Standards, developers and buyers of information systems will be able to make better choices.

ACTION LINE 4.3: ENCOURAGING SKILLS DEVELOPMENTAT EUROPEAN LEVEL

4.3.1 BACKGROUND

The entering of the traditional European information providers into the age of multimedia and interactivity requires new skills and combinations of skills. In the long term it is essential that these new skills are defined and developed within a structured framework integrated into the higher educational sector throughout Europe.

4.3.2 OBJECTIVES

The action aims to improve the competitiveness of the European information industry by stimulating specific training in the use of new information technologies, multimedia engineering and information law. The implementation of pilot projects should provide the necessary basis to set up large-scale actions by national or Community programmes.

4.3.3 ACTIONS

The contribution of INFO2000 in this area will concentrate on:

  • identifying the training courses available and gaps and inadequacies in order to establish an inventory for dissemination and priorities for further action;
  • developing a series of continuous training modules for SMEs in the information industry and for training centres established through university-industry collaboration;
  • developing new diploma courses on an experimental basis covering the new professional skills needed in the multimedia content industry, e.g. multimedia engineering, multimedia law and training of trainers;
  • disseminating the inventories and other findings of the actions.

In close collaboration with the content industry itself and with representatives from universities, other educational establishments and vocational training organisations, the Commission will launch a series of initiatives aiming at identifying the available courses, best practice and gaps in training availability. The results will provide a clear set of recommendations for the development and implementation of a limited number of pilot courses.

Calls for proposals will be launched for cost-shared projects to develop, carry out and evaluate pilot courses. The evaluation will in particular focus on developing a strategy for how similar actions could be undertaken in the future. Responsibilities for implementation will be proposed between the European Commission, Member States' educational systems and the content industry itself. Equally, attention will be focused on disseminating the results of the research and development actions via the I'M Europe WorldWideWeb server and the MIDAS network.

4.3.4 EXPLOITATION OF SYNERGY

Concerted actions with LEONARDO and SOCRATES (DG XXII) and with MEDIA II (DG X) will be undertaken to focus training actions on the needs of the multimedia content industry. INFO2000 will develop kick-off actions which will be implemented in full scale under the relevant programmes.

4.3.5 RESULTS

This action will result in greater awareness of the training courses available, the improvement of courses where there are gaps and the consequent improvement of competences within the multimedia industry.

ACTION LINE 4.4 DEVELOPING AND EXCHANGING BEST PRACTICE

4.4.1 BACKGROUND

The emerging multimedia content industry will comprise elements of many different sectors: audiovisual, software development, publishing, library and information scientists and also domain expertise in varied specialised areas. The combination of these different cultures and skills offers enormous scope for new kinds of development but poses difficulties in two particular areas: organisation and creativity. On the organisational side, experience is being gained in different, isolated environments of working across different disciplines and traditions: exchanging these experiences with other companies will be beneficial to speeding up the overall learning process and contribute to greater efficiency and profitability. On the issue of creativity, the current high costs of multimedia authoring and production mean that safe, pragmatic solutions are often preferred to experimental, imaginative programmes. Therefore, a stimulus is needed to encourage the identification and visibility of creative developments in order to increase the pace of innovation and accelerate the advent of the new multimedia.

4.4.2 OBJECTIVES

The objective of developing and exchanging best practice is to accelerate the rate of change in the emerging multimedia industry and ensure that advances made in particular environments are communicated rapidly to the rest of the industry for the common benefit.

4.4.3 ACTIONS

Given the limited budget of INFO2000, action will concentrate on the dissemination of knowledge and experience gained in the conduct of the projects supported under Action Line 3.1, Catalysing high quality multimedia content.

Dissemination will comprise demonstration of prototypes and presentations of methodologies at appropriate events such as conferences and exhibitions. Workshops and seminars may be organised in conjunction with the awareness actions under Action Line 1.

4.4.3 EXPECTED RESULTS

This action line will contribute to the greater efficiency and competitiveness of the European content industry, which are mostly SMEs, through the dissemination of information about how best to tackle different issues in the new industry. The beneficiaries will come not only from new businesses but also from established publishers, audiovisual companies, etc. entering new ventures in multimedia publishing or online information supply.

4.5 BUDGET FOR ACTION LINE 4

 



BUDGET%
AL 4.1 Observing and analysing the market 3.2
AL 4.2 Multimedia content standards 1.5
AL 4.3 Skills development 3.1
AL 4.4 Best practice
TOTAL For Action line 4 7.8


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