Dragomir Discusses Challenges to Public Service Media at PBI Conference

September 13, 2017

Organized by Radio Romania, Public Broadcasters International (PBI) held this week its annual conference in Sinaia, Romania, to discuss key trends and challenges for public broadcasters. Marius Dragomir, director of CMDS spoke at a panel put together by Public Media Alliance (PMA), a membership association of 102 TV and radio broadcasting organizations with a public service remit, stretching across 54 countries.

Photo: Luciana GingãraşuBesides Dragomir, speakers of the panel entitled “Public Media and Democracy-What is happening to public media in 2017” and moderated by Sally-Ann Wilson, CEO of PMA also included non-resident CMDS fellow Davor Marko, who is also a research fellow at the Analitika Center for Social Research, and Dr. Okoth Fred Mudhai, senior lecturer at Coventry University, who discussed ways for public media to promote its core values better to audiences, politicians and media commentators in light of the growing worldwide influence of authoritarian media systems.

Shrinking platforms for public debate and diminishing support for media as a public good are challenges that lie at the heart of CMDS’ research agenda. The Center launched earlier in 2017 its Public Media Speakers Series in cooperation with RIPE@GLOBAL, an influential global network of academic researchers and strategic managers with expertise in public service media.  The aim of the series is to go beyond conventional academic analyses of public broadcasting and present visions, strategies and tactics, of the roles public service media should play.

During the panel organized by PMA, Dragomir mentioned the various challenges digitization poses for public service broadcasters all across the world, emphasizing that there has been a decline both in funding and the audience numbers of public media. He said that expectations that digitization would reduce public broadcasters’ costs were simply a fairytale. They would, but initial investments in digital technology would take at least 15 years to be recouped. The new media order shaped by new technologies also undermined the traditional “regulatory toolkit” for public service media. New arrangements are needed; and urgently, Dragomir said.

How could public broadcasters overcome these difficulties and do more than survive? By finding a new role, a new remit and a new funding model, Dragomir argued. In order to attract audiences and become a point of reference for objective, unbiased information, it would be crucial for them to provide relevant, quality content and ensure the transparency of their funding and governance.