“We’ll solve the problems of the world more quickly, more ably with the assistance of healthy, flourishing public service broadcasting.” That’s the view of Stephen Fry, the recipient of this year’s Rose d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award.
In an exclusive interview with the EBU, the broadcaster and entertainer spoke about the importance of public service media from news broadcasting to entertainment. “Just as we have public service roads and we have public service hospitals, public service schools, public service broadcasting seems to me to be very important,” said Fry as his Lifetime Achievement award was announced.
Citing the British model of the BBC - with whom Fry has had some of his biggest broadcasting successes - he noted that, by paying for public service media “you’re buying education and you’re buying entertainment” and that these are the pillars of public service media everywhere.
In his interview with the EBU, Fry spoke about public service media’s role in informing the public, entertaining the public and speaking to all sections of a society. He spoke of the importance of news services that delivered unbiased, comprehensive news reporting on global stories. “It is public service broadcasting whose eye is fixed most professionally on issues, like the war in the Middle East and untangling the issue of things like radicalisation of the Islamic population or all these questions which are important”, he noted.
He also highlighted the important role that public service media has in speaking to the whole of a nation’s culture, not just, what he called, the “commercial mainstream". Public service media delivers “to as wide and audience as possible, in the sense of the culture from which they spring, their own country, if it’s Sweden, anything from trolls to modern Swedish life and culture, and if it’s British, Charles Dickens, but also forgotten artists and under rated musicians”. He continued to note that “it’s highly desirable for a public to have access to broadcasting that isn’t there to sell sweets and candy and play the latest pop music and all the rest of it.”
Asked to assess his own contribution to broadcasting Fry noted his work in comedy and the ability of comedy to touch people, but he reserved particular comment for his work producing documentaries speaking about mental health - and the important role television has in facilitating public discussion on such challenging issues. “To be able to make a documentary charting my own history in mental health and interviewing extraordinary people living with the very worst kinds of extreme bi-polar disorder,” he said. “In the case of my documentary, the fact that television allows that, the fact that television can set up an issue like mental health to be a really important issue, and that it has been taken up as an important issue.”
Stephen Fry will be presented with the Rose d'Or for Lifetime Achievement and Contribution to Entertainment on December 9th at the award ceremony in London. Register to purchase tickets for the ceremony and learn more about the nominees at Rosedor.com.