March 21, 2019

Philadelphia, Penn.


March 21, 2019

Philadelphia, Penn.


The Media Future Summit is an exclusive gathering of top executives tapped from throughout the media ecosystem to seek lasting business solutions amid digital-age reordering of the media economy. MFS laureates will depart with up-to-the-minute news from the monetization front lines. But more importantly they collaborate to identify and cultivate sustainable solutions.

In its fourth year, MFS will convene in Philadelphia on March 21, 2019 at the Annenberg Public Policy Center's agora at the University of Pennsylvania. For the first time, we are under the aegis of Penn's Annenberg School for Communication.

In a slight twist on the format, this year we will be agonizing less over the current troubles and looking extensively toward the near future -- a world perhaps of blockchain, cryptocurrency micropayments, a government-broken-up duopoly, an attention economy and so on.  Kind of like the World’s Fair City of Tomorrow, minus the monorail.

As always, the spirited conversation will take place entirely among the delegation: the highest ranking experts on a 6-inch-high stage in colloquy with equally high ranking experts populating banquet tables in the room. (Plus an actual banquet, of course.) Excepting keynotes, no outside speakers will be onstage.

In the coming weeks, a roster of co-hosts will be announced, who in turn will tap delegates for this invitation-only event.  Check back here for updates later in the spring.

The day is engineered to be fully participatory. There will be little distinction between what is said on stage and what is contributed by the industry leaders and experts from the floor. The currency of the day will be experience: the sharing of successes and failures toward the common cause of — as the mission statement enunciates — “vibrant, ethical and sustainable media in a democratic society.” The output will be a communique declaring a set of goals and principles.

MFS participation signifies an ongoing commitment, leadership role and influence that can be marshaled at only the highest levels of ownership and management.

If you have received an invitation from one or our hosts, click HERE to register.





Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

We are in unchartered waters. Political intimidation threatens media practitioners worldwide, and disinformation campaigns destabilize public trust. The Center for Media at Risk offers the chance to strategize in response to threatening political conditions. Knowing how media practitioners work under authoritarian regimes and circumstances of creeping authoritarianism can help free/defend/empower/protect/save the media. @ASCmediarisk

Media, Inequality & Change Center

A collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information. 

MIC occupies the intersection of technology, policy, and social justice. We are committed to studying the political economy of social problems, media, and democracy, while engaging with local activist projects and drawing connections with national and international social movements. and @MIC_Center



MediaPost Communications ( is an integrated publishing and conference company providing a wide array of resources to media, marketing and advertising professionals, producing more than 30 conferences each year, seven annual award shows, fourteen news dailies and more than forty industry-focused newsletters & blogs. MediaPost is committed to providing a premium level of content in all publications and conferences. The company, founded in 1996, is New York based and privately held.

Bob garfield

Bob Garfield is a columnist, critic, broadcaster, author and lecturer who has devoted his career to the media and marketing landscape. A MediaPost editor-at-large, he previously spent 25 years as the advertising critic for Advertising Age. For the past 15 years has been co-host of public radio's “On The Media.” A recipient of many journalism awards, including the Peabody, he is the author of five books and has lectured in 37 countries on six continents. A visiting lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, he is also a senior fellow at the Wharton School's SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management. His seminal 2007 book, The Chaos Scenario, presciently described the apocalyptic disruptions of the media economy in the digital age.






More like a membership society than an ad hoc event, the MFS signifies an ongoing commitment, leadership role and influence that can be marshaled at only the highest levels of ownership and management. An invitation is recognition of just that influence.




8:45 AM  Opening Remarks: Welcome to 2023.  Bob Garfield

9:00 AM  Keynote

9:30 AM  Who Opoly?           

In 2018, an unprecedented percentage of revenue and market power was concentrated in two mammoth companies. Media partners had been exploited, diminished, reneged upon and sent on various wild goose chases by unilateral  actions of the duopoly. Consumers saw their data commodified and mishandled, their privacy endangered. But then things changed. Legislation, litigation, regulation (or merely the threat thereof) triggered the break-up of Google and Facebook.  Or perhaps, under duress, self-determined radical shifts in their business models.  How did it happen? What does the new landscape look like?

10:15 AM  Action Committee

11:00 AM  Coffee Break

11:30 AM  Blockchain: Fixing What the Internet Broke

Whatever the immediate prospects for blockchain-based digital infrastructures, the concepts behind a distributed ledger technology invite us to imagine very different models for the media ecosystem addressing many of the problems the Internet created in the first place. We explore a world in which blockchain enables new ways of distributing, monetizing and tracking copyrighted content that shifts power back to media owners. Does it help disintermediate the “platform” disintermediators? Does it create a token economy based on cryptocurrency or attention credits? Does it cleanse the ad supply chain of fraud and heavy, costly ad-tech middlemen? Who benefits? Who loses?

12:15 PM  Action Committee

Resolved: Media companies should be testing blockchain-based relationships with both consumers and advertisers and as an industry push partners towards these technologies.
They are a good bet for media's future.

1:00 PM  Lunch

2:00 PM  Presentation: “In the Beginning, There Was PBS”:
Noblesse Oblige as a Business Model

In the two decades of chaos spawned by fragmentation and ad avoidance, the only two constants were 1) the failure of advertising revenue to profitably sustain the media economy, and 2) the gradual increase in and dependence on philanthropy to underwrite content. By 2023, individual donations and institutional grants have become a societal norm, a tithing representing 10% of all media revenue, and therefore nearly the entirety of sector profitability.  In addition, billionaire owners, with various motives, have become the New Press Barons, willing to sacrifice profits altogether for political influence or pure public good.

2:20 PM  Taking Control of the Attention Economy: Getting Beyond Last Impressions

It is 2023. The impression-based media economy is dead, a relic of pre-digital mass media. Attention, not impressions or hits, is the currency. But how is it measured, tokenized and sold? Does it mean more click-bait, or less? Does it save the advertising industry? Does it protect publishers? Does it put power in the hands of the audience? What is the real market value of the focus consumers bring to media experiences. What does a fairly valued attention economy really look like?

3:15-4:00 PM: Action Committee

Resolved: Media companies need to wean advertisers away from impression-based models in their partnerships and redefine media value in an attention marketplace.

4:00 PM  Closing Remarks: Introducing the Purple Project for Democracy

4:15 PM  Cocktails