As we leave a whirlwind of a year behind us, what could possibly happen in 2021? Can we even foresee trends in a period of such unprecedented change? We ask our senior managers to take what they have learnt from 2020 to predict what is likely to happen next in public service media (PSM).
“I expect linear audience figures to remain high across Europe, particularly in the first half of the year while countries still have lockdowns,” says our Director General Noel Curran. “But more of broadcast media’s budgets will move to new platforms and digital media this year, given the explosion in viewing and new entrants in 2020.”
Senior Strategy Analyst Tanja Meyerhofer agrees that innovation will be key this year as PSM focus on helping society even more. “2021 will see PSM consolidate their role as social innovators whose content and services will offer new ways of tackling society’s complex problems collaboratively, thereby building a better future for the communities they serve.”
We should expect even greater leaps in technology and digital news services, according to our Deputy Media Director and Head of News Liz Corbin. “Particularly for public service newsrooms, 2020 forced us to make changes we had previously thought too ambitious or too challenging. That has given us confidence. It’s also grown the trust and loyalty we receive not just from existing audiences but new ones. So, in 2021, we’ll be building on that and making sure we reach as many people as possible with top quality journalism.”
But how can we really get up and close with our audiences... from a safe distance?
For our Media Director Jean Philip De Tender, the answer lies in storytelling. “Every crisis is an opportunity; every problem finds a solution. Last year we saw a creativity boost in media due to the pandemic. In 2021 we will see new ways of storytelling consolidate how we connect with audiences. The ‘roaring twenties’ of media are upon us.”
Building partnerships will indeed make PSM stronger this year. Our Director of Sport Glen Killane is looking forward to the return of live sport in 2021 and he predicts the emergence of some unexpected new partnerships.
“2021 will be the year when the most unlikely alliances in sport will emerge – organizations we thought would never work together will see the benefits of collaboration,” he says.
David Fernández Quijada, Manager of our Media Intelligence Service, also expects collaboration to pay great dividends in securing the role of PSM as leaders. “The accelerated pace of transformation requires an expanded range of skills and creative minds, making collaboration not just an option but the right response to keep up with audiences and the market.”
In 2021 public broadcasters have the chance to further demonstrate the unique value they bring to their communities.
For Vanessa O’Connor, our Director of Member Relations & Communications, this means a focus on PSM values of diversity, equity and inclusion. “2020 saw a surge in audiences of all ages who turned to public service media to stay connected, informed, entertained and educated during successive lockdowns. We anticipate that PSM's unique social relevance and value will be further consolidated in 2021 as new standards are set for diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Our Manager of Business Development & Young Audiences Madiana Asseraf-Jacob says that sustainability will be key to keeping PSM organizations relevant for the future. “As we saw in the ‘EBU Youth: What Works’ report, no other generation raises its voice as loudly and clearly for a sustainable and greener environment as Gen Z does and they also consider this in their brand and purchase decisions.”
Finally, we must ensure that European citizens can continue to be able to easily access the high-quality content and objective news and information they want and deserve in these turbulent times.
Our Director of Legal & Policy Richard Burnley stresses the need for a fair and responsible platform environment. “Defining and enforcing effective and consistent controls on super-dominant global gatekeepers across Europe must be a priority in 2021 if we are to protect the future health and sustainability of the European media ecosystem – and democracy itself.”