BLOG published on 13 Sep 2019

Public service media crucial to democracy

Strong, stable public service media is critical to the functioning of a healthy democracy.

new report from our Media Intelligence Service shows how the popularity and funding of public service media (PSM) is linked to the health of democracy in a country.

It looks at six key internationally-established indicators which show the close correlations between the strength of a democracy and the strength of its public media.

For example, where PSM is well-funded and enjoys a high market share, there is more political stability and corruption is under control.

It's something we’ve always believed, but even we were surprised by the strength of the relationship between the indicators.

As we mark International Day of Democracy (15 September), its important to highlight these links.

True democracy is a two-way street, built on dialogue. Dialogue that is nurtured by a free and independent media.

We see in countries where PSM is weak, the state of democracy is weak and people are less satisfied with the democratic process.

The theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy is participation. There is a particularly strong correlation between the level of funding of PSM in a country and the level of political participation. In countries where PSM is well-funded, citizens are much more likely to be active in politics which is a foundation of good governance.

In today’s polarized world, it is all too easy for people to be trapped in their own little ‘filter bubbles’ of intellectual isolation.

PSM not only provides citizens with high-quality news and information, it exposes them to a diversity of viewpoints. It challenges their perceptions and makes them think differently about the world. It holds governments and authorities to account and gives a voice to the voiceless.

As civic space continues to shrink, people need ready access to independent media to help make informed choices about their lives, their societies and their nation states.

And that is why we need to cherish and protect our public service broadcasters. Guarantee them stable and appropriate funding. And ensure their prominence on the multitude of new platforms - enabling audiences to easily find and consume trusted news and information.

A free and independent media is a cornerstone of European democracy. At a time when that is increasingly threatened by both politics and power, we need to raise our voices to defend our shared values and ensure citizens can continue to participate fully in their democracies.

Written by

Noel Curran
Director General

+41 22 717 2005