Home Analysis EBU: Public service media is responding to a trust crisis

EBU: Public service media is responding to a trust crisis

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Public service media (PSM) is being challenged by a crisis in trust and the rise of new digital platforms, but is responding and adapting, according to EBU Senior Strategy Advisor, Claudia Vaccarone.

Speaking at the DTG Summit in London this week, Vaccarone discussed the difficulties facing public service media, the value that PSM brings to society, and outlined a number of factors that are needed for PSM to thrive in the context of today’s media landscape.

Delivering a keynote presentation titled ‘Public Service Media – a unique contribution to society,’ Vaccarone said that the rise of populist narratives and parties, which have used the web to drive fear and division, have eroded trust in national governments, European bodies and institutions in general.

“Concepts like tolerance, solidarity and multiculturalism that underpinned the creation of Europe are being attacked. Media is not immune, with the growing imperative to demonstrate its reliability and trustworthiness when it comes to news specifically.”

With private media companies merging, global streaming services entering national markets and social media services changing into content providers, Vaccarone said that the picture has changed “beyond all recognition” and PSM needs to adapt.

Among the four ‘future drivers’ identified for PSM to thrive in the future was the need to maintain distinctiveness, for instance by producing news of a higher editorial standard than commercial operators and by avoiding ‘clickbait’ stories or topics.

PSM needs to represent all audiences and connect with a diverse group of people at a local and national level; it needs to focus on impact, not just audience numbers, and proactively explain its value; and it needs to capitalise on trust, DTG Summit delegates heard.

“Our latest trust barometer shows that in Europe trust in traditional media is still considerable with radio as the most trusted medium,” said Vaccarone, claiming that public service media are the most trusted news brands in north and central Europe.

“PSM providers are well established, with strong brands and are significant contributors to a nation’s culture and identity. I am sure we all agree, in this day in age they are needed more than ever.”

The EBU is an alliance of public service media that has 117 member organisations in 56 countries, with an additional 35 associates in Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas. EBU members operate more than 2,000 TV, radio and online channels and services.

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