Blockchain-based technologies could resolve media’s financing challenge

Fondation EURACTIV interviewed Gagik Yeghiazarian, CEO and co-founder of PUBLIQ, about blockchain’s potential to address the media sector’s business challenges. As a former publisher and editor himself (Forbes Armenia, Forbes Georgia, Cosmopolitan Armenia), Gagik Yeghiazarian believes that a “working blockchain distributed independent media ecosystem where content developers, publishers and advertisers join to create, govern, manage and own media” can lead “instant merit-based distribution of wealth.” Hype or reality?

Fondation EURACTIV – Lots of complicated words in the world of blockchain; can you tell us more in simple terms what the PUBLIQ foundation does and why it might be useful?

Gagik Yeghiazarian – PUBLIQ is reshaping the Media industry by enabling censorship free generation, selection and assessment of content. It offers a unique experience where the wealth generated is fairly and exclusively distributed to the network participants. As such, PUBLIQ rebuilds trust in media by empowering authors and readers to be part of a safe and impartial ecosystem.

PUBLIQ is a non-profit Foundation supporting and protecting the interests and rights of both authors and users; at the same time, it builds and maintains a free media environment. In addition, PUBLIQ is reshaping our approach to the Media industry by building a decentralized independent communication platform. This will be useful to anyone who wants to post news and any type of articles.

Fondation EURACTIV – So why PUBLIQ?

Gagik Yeghiazarian – The media environment is currently shaped, on the one hand, by centralised institutions censoring a high portion of the contents; on the other hand, by a massive flow of low quality user-generated content. A dangerous over centralisation subsists on a market where unfair remunerations and poor customer experience are constantly on the rise. The lion’s share of the wealth generated is seized by intermediaries. Therefore, PUBLIQ wants to re-balance power by giving to the people the right to be free to express their minds.

We realised that the media space is jeopardized. There is very little trust in the general public readers towards the media they consume. It’s probably lowest it’s ever been. And the main issue is that we have, on one side, centralised media institutions that have some bias; and on the other side, the anarchy of the internet where most parties participating are barely responsible for their actions. This leads to the deterioration of quality debate and less independence from private interests for the earnings.

Also, we saw the dramatic shift from print to digital; from centralised corporate to a peer-to-peer economy, which is becoming a major force globally. Hence, this brought us to the understanding that we want to create a space where we transfer entire ownership to those who are creating, developing content. By doing so, they can become owners of their own destiny by owning what they create in complete sense.

“We realised that if we didn’t have the technology that blockchain offers, we couldn’t create a public media space on a global scale.”

We tried different solutions, especially exploring different legal options; but it wasn’t possible in the world that we currently all live in. The legal structures we created don’t allow global creation. Other factors, taxation, different currencies, payments, micropayment issues, trust issues, administration costs, etc made this difficult… so, we realised that without the technology that blockchain offers, we couldn’t create a public media space on a global scale.

Fondation EURACTIV – How does it work?

Gagik Yeghiazarian – We have created a platform where we invite authors, publishers and businesses who wish to advertise to allow them to interact in a transparent way to create, distribute and monetise content jointly. We enable  merit-based remuneration to all participants. And blockchain ensures that all participants’ needs in the system are guarded by technology. Blockchain is a tool that helps bring strangers to work in the same ecosystem and create the trust and transparent environment, with all transactions, actions of all parties being visible by all parties.

Fondation EURACTIV – So, how do authors get remunerated?

Gagik Yeghiazarian – We have a working platform, so the concept is that we assign a reputation, score and virtual wallet to each author once he or she joins the platform. Their earnings are calculated based mostly on the feedback of the users, number of views, likes, dislikes and sharing. This formula assigns a particular share to each participant of the community. On the other side we have businesses that want to reach out to readers. For that they pay fees to share their content. Any amount earned by the community through advertising is instantly distributed to participants based on their score. So there is 100% instant revenue sharing. Which means we trust that the readers are the best judges.

Fondation EURACTIV – Where does the project currently stand?

Gagik Yeghiazarian – The platform and our own blockchain network are up and running, both for authors and publishers. In December 2018 we are going to announce a reward of a 3 million PBQs (our local token) for the early participants of our Testnet, and once the test period is over, PUBLIQ will go live with fully operational platform end of  Q1, 2019.  PBQ will be tradable and participants will be able to start earning real rewards. We are in negotiations with different businesses inviting them to join PUBLIQ and become authors also. They can also produce content while being stakeholders.

We are happy partnering with public broadcaster of Germany, ZDF/ARD for Tagesschau and Funk.  Funk for example, publishes transcripts of politically sensitive video content, suggesting that with blockchain it’s immutable thus no one can delete or alter it, and so that anyone can see the original source. We are also working with several large and small publishers around the globe, including well known Japanese media companies.  PUBLIQ is building a partnerships with universities in the US, Europe, and Asia providing student grants and fellowships, as well as establishing joint Centers for PUBLIQ Media as think tanks to jointly engage in building the vision of the media of the future.

Stephen Boucher

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