In a brand new report from the EBU – Democracy and Public Service Media – findings show that democracy has declined in two thirds of EBU Member countries with citizens turning away from politics and public life. The report demonstrates how strong and well-funded public service media (PSM) goes hand-in-hand with a nation’s democratic health.
“The need for strong public service media has never been greater,” says Noel Curran, Director General, EBU. “Anyone can ‘report’ breaking news by uploading footage and gaining a global audience in seconds. This has transformed news consumption but brings with it a prevalence of misinformation and deliberate fake news. The results can have dreadful repercussions for stable, elective democracies.”
In comments to mark the 60th anniversary of the Eurovision News Exchange (EVN), Curran calls for the protection of transparent and trusted news, reflecting a range of opinions and views. “News that reflects diversity of thought and opinion, subject to rigorous editorial processes of accountability and verification, ensures accurate, trusted content that supports democratic societies.”
The EVN’s landmark anniversary is on 28 September 2021 – which is also UNESCO International Day for Universal Access to Information and World News Day. The service is singled out by Curran for its adherence to the independent editorial processes that enable the sharing of trusted, accurate information, including verified eyewitness content, and a range of opinion and perspectives essential to strong democracies.
He also calls on PSM to invest in their services. “All of us working in PSM must prioritize the future. Organizational transformation isn’t optional. Our services must be fit for purpose in a rapidly shifting technology landscape.”
Curran points to the collaboration of the EBU with 10 public service broadcasters to launch an innovative new service, ‘A European Perspective’, in July this year. The digital news initiative curates and shares stories from PSM across the continent, using cutting-edge translation and recommendation tools, developed by EBU Members and EBU Technology & Innovation to translate stories into different languages, breaking down geographic barriers.
“Now even more citizens can participate in world events, see how other countries are experiencing the challenges of our times, and benefit from a range of perspectives in the best tradition of the EVN and anathema to polarization and authoritarian regimes.”
In the first two months of operation, the recommendation boxes on EBU Members’ websites recorded almost ten million displays and nearly 400,000 reads.
“Investment in public service news is an investment in democracy. From the beginnings of the EVN in 1961 to innovative and transformational digital news services, PSM has been promoting core news values – independence, accuracy, transparent and trusted journalism, the free flow of information and ideas. These values must be protected at all costs. Our democracies depend on it.”