APA grew by 4.9 percent in 2022 – Revenue of EUR 74.35 million made it the highest-grossing nationally operating news agency group in Europe – The focus in 2023 is Trusted AI – Brief Report.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the energy crisis made 2022 a challenging and demanding year. Despite difficult market conditions, APA Group achieved significant revenue growth in the 2022 fiscal year, with its revenue totalling EUR 74.35 million, an increase of EUR 3.49 million or 4.9 percent compared to 2021 (EUR 70.86 million). APA has therefore become the largest national news agency group in Europe, while the French AFP, German DPA, Spanish EFE and British PA are considered globally or internationally operating European agencies.
With the news agency division and APA editorial team, information management with APA-OTS, APA-DeFacto and PictureDesk as well as information technology with APA-IT and Gentics, all areas of the company made a significant contribution to this growth. The overall success confirms APA Group’s strategic direction as a neutral and digital newstech platform.
Compared to EUR 3.82 million in 2021, the operating result (EBIT) of APA Group was EUR 4.50 million in 2022, while profit on ordinary activities (POA) totalled EUR 2.97 million in 2022, down from EUR 3.43 million in 2021. Measured in full-time equivalents, the number of employees in the Group increased to 505 in 2022, up from 500 in 2021. In his keynote speech, “The State of Play”, Clemens Pig, the CEO of APA – Austria Press Agency and president of EANA, the European Alliance of News Agencies, presented the company’s annual report and provided a strategic outlook for APA Group in the European context of digital transformation during the board meetings on Wednesday morning.
APA Chairman of the Board Hermann Petz (Tiroler Tageszeitung) and Chairman of the Supervisory Board Roland Weißmann (ORF) extended their thanks to all APA Group employees for their commitment to the company’s success. “APA is considered a forward-looking and reliable content and technology platform for the media and communications industry, with an exceptionally high level of innovation. This has enabled APA to guide the cooperative model into the future and make the company economically one of Europe’s leading independent national news agencies.”
2022: Focus on platform strategy – APA-NewsDesk and PR-Desk
In the 2022 fiscal year, intensive efforts were made at advancing APA’s digital platform strategy as well as the strategic fields of Digital Workplace and Digital Business. The central news and data hub, APA-NewsDesk, was expanded in 2022 with the modules News, Data, and Agenda, and is expected to replace APA-OnlineManager (AOM) as a real-time information and research platform in 2024. Development was also underway for the image editing system PIX, which relies on APA’s own AI services in the field of facial recognition. This system forms the basis for the development of a new image editing system solution for the media. Developed for the communication market, PR-Desk added new features such as AI-supported writing assistance for simplified language.
Another advance into international markets
At the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year, further advances were made in the internationalisation of technology solutions in the D-A-CH region with the establishment of two IT companies in Switzerland: “Swiss Digital Media Services AG” and “Gentics Software AG.” In collaboration with KEYSTONE-SDA and other cooperative partnerships, these companies were able to capitalise their first revenues in the 2022 fiscal year.
Trusted AI – Quality and safety standards for the AI revolution
In 2022, as in previous years, the focus of APA’s research and development activities was in the area of data and AI technologies. The release of ChatGPT at the end of last year provided renewed momentum to the issue and posed new challenges for news agencies and the media industry as a whole. Based on the reliable and quality journalistic APA value base in the area of “trusted content”, APA CEO Clemens Pig cites “Trusted AI” as a logical next step. Central to this context was the establishment of an AI governance policy in April 2022, ensuring responsible use of AI technologies throughout APA. The “commitment to transparency and fact-based information is inevitable” in order to prevent “generative artificial intelligence from becoming a superspreader of fake news.” Pig thus considers the secure environment of the reliable cooperative ecosystem a “secure operating and business model”. An AI task force, established in early 2023, coordinates the news agency group’s AI activities and places them in the appropriate strategic fields.
Mandate extensions and personnel-related information in the APA decision-making bodies
At the annual general meeting, the mandates on the board of directors of Herbert Achleitner (OÖN), Martin Hagenstein (Salzburger Nachrichten) and Hubert Patterer (Kleine Zeitung) were confirmed for another three years. For the supervisory board Thomas Kralinger (Kurier), Wolfgang Eder (Oberösterreichisches Volksblatt) and Wolfgang Zekert (Österreich) were re-elected for another three-year term. Thomas Kralinger was re-elected as deputy chairman of the supervisory board.
APA’s decision-making bodies also saw the following changes in personnel: Wolfgang Fellner (Österreich) handed over his mandate on the board of directors to Nikolaus Fellner, and in the supervisory board, Herwig Langanger (Die Presse) succeeded Rainer Nowak.
The board of directors therefore continues to comprise Hermann Petz (Tiroler Tageszeitung) as chairman, Eugen A. Russ (Vorarlberger Nachrichten) and Ingrid Thurnher (ORF) as deputy chairpersons as well as Clemens Pig (APA) as CEO. The supervisory board is composed of Roland Weißmann (ORF) as chairman as well as Thomas Kralinger (Kurier) and Markus Mair (Styria) as deputy chairpersons.