Directors General from 7 of the EBU's Nordic Members have written an open letter to The Guardian newspaper in the UK arguing that the BBC is a source of inspiration for all public service media and urging that its future, currently being discussed as part of a charter renewal process, is safeguarded. Here is the full text of the letter published in The Guardian on September 20:
"It has been said the BBC is the mother of all public service broadcasting. In many respects, the company is still a point of reference for all public media companies in Europe and elsewhere. We, the director generals of the Nordic public service media companies, hope the BBC will be able to continue to play this valuable role.
Looking at the world today, we see a growing need for public service broadcasting. In times of global crisis, both economic and humanitarian, a trusted, impartial media company like the BBC is a vital element of the democratic infrastructure, informing and educating people. Never has there been a greater need for broadcasters to work to increase compassion and understanding by reflecting society as a whole and bringing people together, regardless of age and background.
The idea of public service broadcasting was born in Britain. Free from political and commercial interests, its main pillar is independence and the idea of putting citizens first. Like the BBC in Britain, we Nordic public service broadcasters rank among the most trusted media companies in our own countries, thanks to our independence. The BBC’s independence comes from its institutional history and culture as well as its regulatory structure, including how remit and funding decisions are made. Changes to the system should serve to strengthen the independence of the broadcaster, not weaken it. This is especially important in the case of the UK, as the British model is often viewed as a model for how the media should be organised in new democracies.
When societies change, public service must change with them. Introduced almost a century ago, the BBC has shown an amazing ability to adapt. It has lived through the introduction of television, commercial competition, new distribution channels, globalisation, the digitalisation of the broadcasting space and the evolution of the internet and mobile streaming.
The BBC has always been able to redefine itself in the face of these changes. At the same time, it has stayed true to its fundamental purposes and values: quality, distinctiveness, diversity, universality and not least, independence. In doing so, the BBC has served as a model for our companies, inspiring us and other public service broadcasters around the world.
A clear mission with scale and scope, a regulatory and funding system that guarantees independence and the freedom to evolve and respond to the changing needs of its audiences and of society as a whole have been cornerstones of the BBC’s success. It is of course up to the British public to decide what kind of BBC you want to have in the future. But when you make your decision, we hope you will take into account the BBC’s international role. It is something to be proud of. The quality of the BBC inspires us all to do better, to better serve the needs of our democratic societies."
Maria Rørbye Rønn Director general, DR, Denmark
Thor Gjermund Eriksen Director general, NRK, Norway
Magnús Geir Þórðarson Director general, RÚV, Iceland
Cilla Benkö Director general, SR, Sweden, EBU Executive Board Member
Hanna Stjärne Director general, SVT, Sweden
Christel Tholse Willers Director general, UR, Sweden
Lauri Kivinen Director general, YLE, Finland