Peggy Van Der Kreeft Looks Back on VRT’s Last Innovation Conference.

On December 8, 2016, Flemish Radio and Television company VRT hosted yet another instalment of its innovation conference Media Fast Forward in Brussels. Peggy van der Kreeft from DW Innovation attended the event.

Dieter Boen, VRT Innovation Manager, opened MFF 2016 and talked about VRT efforts on innovation collaboration and its tools, such as VRT Sandbox, Open VRT, and the Live-IP Studio. Trying out the new technologies on the floor, in the production process itself, is vital, as it reveals the issues and challenges.

Some 400 people registered for the conference that featured a keynote by Phil Fearnley, BBC Director of Homepage & myBBC. He discussed the BBC's transformation journey, the personalization of content and the important issue of user engagement.

Peggy van der Kreeft represented the SUMMA (Scalable Understanding of Multilingual Media) European collaboration project, aimed at applying language technologies in broadcasting for multilingual monitoring. Especially interesting in this respect was a demonstration by VRT Research and Innovation Manager Marieke Lycke on the recently finished project STON, focusing on speech and language technology subtitling in Dutch. It showed automatically generated subtitles in Dutch for VRT content, implementing a tool developed by a consortium, including the Belgian university KU Leuven and the University of Ghent, applied to VRT on-demand-videos. The demo showed differences in quality, based on content type–for instance, documentaries with studio-recorded spoken text by one reporter clearly results in much better speech-to-text output than live reporting with interviews and background noise/voices. The implementation of automatic punctuation (only periods thus far) and person and organization recognition and identification was shown and the related issues discussed.

Other interesting talks by Pierre Marchand, Teradata Business Analytics Consultant, and Wouter Quartier, VRT Strategy Manager, addressed the importance of proper forecasting in media, in particular in the light of recent events such as Brexit and the U.S. elections.

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