Understanding online audio-visual content: A European initiative, media literacy and the user


  • Sian Barber Royal Holloway, University of London


Archive, Audio-visual sources, Cultural heritage, European Television Media Literacy


Recent debates about media literacy and the internet have begun to acknowledge the importance of active user-engagement and interaction. It is not enough simply to access material online, but one must also be able to comment upon it and re-use it. Yet how do these new user expectations fit within digital initiatives which increase access to audio-visual-content but which prioritise access, preservation of archives and online research rather than active user-engagement? This article will address these issues of media literacy in relation to audio-visual content. It will consider how these issues are currently being addressed, focusing particularly on the high-profile European initiative EUscreen. EUscreen brings together 20 European television archives into a single searchable database of over 40,000 digital items. Yet creative re-use restrictions and copyright issues prevent users from re-working the material they find on the site. Instead of re-use, EUscreen offers access and detailed contextualisation of its collection of material. But if the emphasis for resources within an online environment no longer rests upon access but on user-engagement, what does EUscreen and similar sites have to offer to different users?