New technologies & regulatory approaches


Over the past decades, technological changes have transformed the media ecosystem, both in the way media content is communicated to the public (‘technology as a mode of content delivery’) and in the way content is produced for and targeted/directed at media users and how media users, for their part, generate their own content and engage with it (‘technology as a means for content creation and recommendation’). Both trends call for future-focused regulatory responses. 

1. Technology as a mode of content delivery 
The rapid development of new communication technologies has radically changed how media content reaches the public. Two centuries ago, oral and written (print) communication still dominated the media landscape. In the 20th century, radio and television became wildly popular. Since the invention of the Internet, however, the online delivery of media content in digital form has grown exponentially. Traditional ‘offline’ media industries like newspaper, television and radio have been shifting their focus to the Internet and the digital realm, as a result of which the lines between media are becoming more and more blurred. 


2. Technology as a means for content creation and recommendation 
In parallel with this process of digital media convergence, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies are increasingly used by media actors to assist in the production and online distribution of media content.  

Intended learning outcomes 

After studying the materials in this knowledge package, you should be able to: 

  • describe how the emergence of the Internet started a process of digital media convergence; 
  • explain how different media may have different functions, values and impact, and understand that technological features of media can influence the types and levels of impact they have; 
  • compare and contrast two regulatory approaches to media, i.e., technology-specific regulation and technology-neutral regulation; 
  • describe how AI and related technologies are increasingly used in the production and online distribution of journalism; and 
  • describe and analyse the opportunities and challenges associated with the use of AI-tools for (quality) journalism. 

Contents and structure  

The infographic visualises the transforming media ecosystem and the ongoing process of convergence, that is, the continuous merging of media technologies, content, networks and devices. It also shows how the European Union and the Council of Europe have responded to the transformation through regulation (e.g., the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive) and policy recommendations (e.g., the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation on the impacts of digital technologies on freedom of expression). 

The blogpost examines digital convergence in the media sector and its implications for regulation more closely. Are we at the point that law-makers should adopt a common regulatory approach to all media, or are there still reasons to differentiate between media and their underlying technologies? 

The video focuses on the increased use of AI (e.g., data science and machine learning) during the journalistic cycle: the gathering of information, the production of content and the online distribution of content. It analyses both the opportunities and challenges AI-tools present for quality journalism and reflects on the current and future responses of European media law and policy. (Note that the use of AI-driven tools by online platforms for the purpose of user-generated content moderation – which could also affect journalism, for example when journalistic content is taken down or access thereto is restricted – is not addressed in this video. For those who are interested in this specific use of AI and its effects on journalism, the list of selected readings includes some relevant resources on the topic).  

The workbook contains various questions to help you check whether you have understood the key concepts, principles and theories set out in this knowledge package. You can use the exercises to engage more actively with the subject matter. 

In the reading list you will find a selection of books, articles and other resources – mostly open access – that may be useful to learn more about one or more of the topics covered that have sparked your interest.