Latvian, Romanian PSM – most poorly funded, study finds
A study of public service media (PSM) in Europe has revealed that the 2008 global financial crisis forced some public broadcasters to make significant strategic changes to policy, funding and content while others were barely affected. The study, conducted by the European Journalism Observatory (EJO) found that PSM budgets vary enormously across Europe, with Latvian PSMs among the most poorly funded, and organisations do not share a common financial or organisational strategy.
The EJO compared budgets, market strategies and accountability of PSM in nine European countries in early 2017, to examine whether they were impacted by the financial crisis. The study aimed to provide an overview of public service policies and finances, nearly ten years after the crisis. The EJO reviewed large (Germany, UK and Italy), medium (Poland and Romania) and several small media markets (Czech Republic, Portugal, Switzerland and Latvia).
Significant variations in PSM budgets and funding methods across Europe were identified. The EJO study, based on analysis by locally-based media researchers and public information, also found that the way a PSM is funded appears to make little difference to the level of independence it experiences.
Nearly ten years after the economic crisis, PSM budgets across Europe vary enormously, from over six billion euros down to 20 million euros per year. The European PSM that receives the most funding annually is Germany’s ARD, the least-funded is TVR (Romanian Television), which was rescued from near bankruptcy in 2016.
Discrepancies are even more apparent in a per capita comparison (total budget versus population). In 2016 Romanian, Latvian and Polish PSM had revenues of approximately 10 – 12 euros per capita, while revenue for Germany and United Kingdom was far higher at 82 and 87 euros per capita, respectively. Switzerland appears the best funded, a budget of 181 euros per person. However, Switzerland, with public service media in four languages, incurs higher costs than most.More detailed results can be found here
Countries where journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free are mostly conflict environments, where powerful actors use violent means to control media coverage, while weak-to-nonexistent law and order increases the likelihood of attacks.
Public trust is the key to safeguarding sustainability and inspired content production by public service media – such is the main conclusion of the first Nordic-Baltic Public Service Media Forum, which was held in Riga on 26-27 April.