Piano Media is launching a joint-payment scheme for media publishers on Jan. 30 in Slovenia. Piano was launched in 2010 by me and a colleague at an advertising agency not because we saw a market opportunity, but because we both really care about journalism. Journalism has been in serious decline since the 2004 recession when it suffered a huge loss in advertising revenue. Since then, newspapers, magazines and serious journalism websites have been cutting staff, reducing the number of pages the use; they've been running more wire copy and less original reporting. All this has been really bad for the reader because he is less informed. So we started Piano with the hope of helping publishers regain their balance and in turn, to reintroduce quality journalism. Does this mean the end of free reading on the internet? That's the question I'll address tonight.
Tomáš Bella is the CEO of Piano Media, a Bratislava-based start-up that launched the world's first nationwide pay-wall system in Slovakia in May 2011 and will to expand to several more European markets in 2012.
After graduation from Bratislava's Komensky University with a degree in journalism, Bella worked at Slovakia's biggest broadsheet newspaper and most popular online news portal “SME” as a reporter, editor-in-chief and deputy director of Sme.sk. In 2004, he established the first European newspaper-owned blog portal, blog.sme.sk, which still has over 20,000 registered users.
He also lectures in on-line media at the Pan European University in Bratislava and is member of The Press Council of the Slovak republic.