‘Hi, it’s Latvia Radio here. Here’s a short light-hearted clip we’ve made for the public on how our journalists are working from home.'
'Hi, it’s Radio France here. Does anyone have successful examples of partnerships with local media during the crisis?'
'Hi, it’s YLE here, we’re cooperating with local newspapers for a live Coronavirus info session for 7-12 year olds with the Finnish PM. Contact us if you want to know more.'
These are just some of the hundreds of exchanges that public service media organizations across the EBU community have been sharing in a unique trusted environment since the COVID-19 pandemic escalated six months ago. They show exceptional levels of solidarity as everyone rose to the unprecedented challenge of informing, educating, entertaining and connecting with audiences in confinement.
As we all discovered the unmute switch and a mosaic of faces on Zoom and Teams, new collaborative initiatives quickly emerged in the EBU community, including:
Acceleration and creativity were key. One of the first collaborative campaigns, initiated by NPO 3FM on 20 March was the simultaneous playing by multiple stations of ‘You’ll never walk alone’. In less than a week, one presenter’s proposal brought together over 180 radio stations across Europe in a single moment. It cristallised the fact that creativity, seizing the moment and bringing isolated people together had taken precedence over process and procedures. The same momentum ran through the initiative by 25 EBU Member orchestras to collaborate on playing the iconic Te Deum Eurovision theme, aired for the first time for the International Day of Music on 21 June. What might normally have taken more than three months was achieved in less than three weeks.
Solidarity for EBU Members is a core value that has taken on heightened importance over the last months. As productions, live performances and sport ground to a halt, new initiatives emerged to compensate for reduced content, including:
At a broader level, PSM reached out to opera houses, concert halls, museum, theatres, education ministries to bring content of value to people at home.
Through online sharing, many communities across our ecosystem have expanded and new digital communities have emerged. Regular online sessions have assembled radio, kids, legal, strategy specialists, while technology groups collaborated on key issues, including fast-tracking streaming recommendations so that networks could resist peaks in online consumption. Meanwhile, weekly calls by Eurovision News for over 40 editors-in-chief were a vital and often moving moment to exchange best practice and hear from RAI and RTVE as the first broadcasters facing the domestic consequences of the pandemic.
As we digest the learnings and seek to retain the agility, creativity and team spirit of the last months, we know there are challenges ahead: on funding, productions, audience retention, well-being of staff, recognition of PSM’s social value etc.
We also know that we're in this together, that solidarity, trust and sharing have helped to carry us through an unprecedented experience, and they will equip us to rise to the opportunities and challenges ahead.