Mediahuis collaboration with BotTalk: a text-to speech technology in multiple languages

What challenges could an international publisher group like Mediahuis face? Strengthening the relationship with their customers. How do they plan to overcome it? By granting them access to news in more languages than ever.


Mediahuis (NL), the international publisher group, found in BotTalk (DE), the German startup that offers management, linguistics and tech consultancy, a perfect partner for their project as participants of the Stars4Media NEWS programme. While Mediahuis had the vision, BotTalk had the means: good voices, easy to use and intuitive tools, and a background in news. They understood Mediahuis’ needs from the beginning because they basically speak the same language. But what is exactly the APOLLOS project?


During the Explore phase of the Stars4Media programme, these boosters implemented a first phase, targeted on the Irish newspaper Sunday World, that explored how journalistic texts could be provided in audio format in a scalable and flexible way with the objective of transforming the news readers into digital subscribers.


This led to a second and crucial phase that coincided with the launch of the boost phase: the development of a text-to-speech technology with high-quality natural synthesized voices, experimented on the Belgian newspaper De Standaard. This second phase turned out to be one of the key lessons learned by Mediahuis as Wim Van Acoleyen, Solution owner Audio/Video products of Mediahuis, recognised that the intuitive tools developed were easy to use by everyone on their team.


Wim as well as Heino Schaght, Mediahuis’ Innovation Manager, do not hesitate to point out the influence of their transformative coach. According to both, this project would not have been possible without the support of Martin Beck, Euractiv NED / Strategic Advisor, who challenged Mediahuis to think out of the box: not only from an editorial or technological perspective, but from a business perspective, encouraging them to adapt Mediahuis’ content to the evolution of their readers. 


Their collaboration shows encouraging signs of continuity as they are still working together on text, news app and paper app solutions; they also plan to publish speech articles in various languages over the summer. Wim Van Acoleyen acknowledged the impact of the collaboration with BotTalk and ventured it might continue after the end of the Boost phase, as both teams felt they could definitely complement each other for upcoming projects.


From the Stars4Media NEWS team and consortium members, we are very proud of the progress made by Mediahuis and BotTalk. They are showing that cross border collaboration is the key to develop strong connections leading to innovation in the media sector. We are looking forward to knowing more about the developments they will build together in the next months.


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This article is part of a series of articles aiming to promote the Stars4Media Third Edition Boosters. Discover the full list of beneficiaries and their area of media innovations. Read the recap of our latest event Stars4Media Day ‘Ready for AI and enlargement’ and discover our latest Stars4Media projects.