The German Press Agency faces the challenge of constantly adapting its services and workflows to suit the transformation of the media industry and providing customers with highly usable services. This also includes the conception and creation of a new production platform for texts, images, videos and other content. Rubix is set to replace the INES editorial system, but it is essentially much more than just an IT project. dpa is building a modular production platform on which new products can continue to be produced, linked to each other and connected to other systems. The maxim here is “digital first” and Rubix simplifies journalist collaboration across the enterprise. The goals of the project are data-informed production, enhanced value-creation and the simplified and more rapid roll-out of new products.
Another major project, aspects of which were painful, was the restructuring of the English Service, which has been in existence since 1957 and is run from desks in Berlin and Sydney. The agency reacted to the high deficits generated for some years. The profile of the service was sharpened in close dialogue with clients. In addition to reporting on key events worldwide, the service now focuses on current affairs in Germany and its neighbouring countries. This is combined with a wide range of reports from within the European Union about EU matters, prospective EU candidates and Britain. The realignment did however lead to downsizing which affected around 30 English Service staff members.
In 2020, dpa’s turnover increased by 1.0 million euros or 1.0% to 93.9 million euros. Thus, the forecast value was almost achieved, despite the clearly noticeable influences of the corona pandemic in some areas. The main influencing factors here were the acquisition of the video business of TeleNewsNetwork (TNN) and another encouraging increase in revenues from the relatively new Custom Content product.
Text service revenues also increased slightly overall despite anticipated revenue declines caused by the continued drop in print circulation figures and a slight fall in foreign services turnover. This was aided by contracts concluded outside the traditional media area. The profile service dpa-Select and the dpa’s audio service posted the biggest revenue gains in 2020, each with an increase of around 0.3 million euros.
In the picture segment, the current image transmission service was also affected by the circulation decline but it was possible to maintain revenues almost on a par with the previous year’s level of 8.5 million euros.
The situation was more strained in the already difficult segment of secondary picture sales, where the greatest impact of the corona crisis was felt. This lead to a drop in revenues of 1.0 million euros. Retrieval figures were noticeably lower while price erosion and cost pressure on the customer side made themselves strongly felt.
By contrast, revenues from new product areas developed well, with growth of 1.5 million euros, mainly driven by the previously mentioned acquisition of the TNN video business during the year and its integration into the dpa video service, as well as further growth in the range of services offered by the Custom Content editorial team in Hamburg.
As expected, income from technical services and transmission fell slightly, but remained at 1.2 million euros.