2016 has certainly been a year of political surprise and change.

One certainty, in a year when the unexpected often became a reality, is that free and independent media continues to play a vital role in democratic societies. But effective public media organisations have the potential to offer so much more than credible and impartial news. The PMA is committed to ensuring that the role of public media is more widely understood, recognised and promoted.

Nearly 150 media organisations worldwide define themselves as ‘public broadcasters’ but in our digital world the shared public media space is about more than broadcasting. Becoming a multiplatform public media organsiation is an essential way for citizens to keep both engaged and informed. With an increasing global population and the pressures of climate change our future peace and security will depend on how we communicate. It is our view that in a period of increasing global uncertainty there has never been a greater need for public media.

The potential that new media technology offers for effective public media has certainly been recognised but few organisations seem to be using it to full potential. The PMA believes it is vital to support the potential of public media by sharing best practice and knowledge between member organisations. We do this on a daily basis via our website but in September our Global Conference in Montreal enabled delegates from many public media organisations to come together in one place to share their innovations and expertise.

Early analysis from our own research project, which investigates the role of public media in democracy via our network of CEO’s, has provided some solid and interesting results.  The deadline for participation has been extended until January 2017 by popular demand.  We plan to use the results as the basis for the first and much needed, Global Index of Public Media.

Public media has clear potential but as 2016 draws to a close we are in reflective mood.  At the Secretariat our unique global overview of the state of public media has made us rather sanguine in recent months. We have noted a growth in authoritarianism around the world, accompanied by a decline in media freedoms. Public media is not simply a ‘development issue’, a matter of concern for the global south, with increasing frequency the PMA are reporting threats to public media in Europe as well as in Latin America and Asia.

In an era of global digital media giants, national public media offers pluralism, a choice to engage with different views and perspectives.  It’s a choice that should be both nurtured and valued.

All the PMA team would like to thank our members, partners and supporters for your input and support in 2016. We fear that there is a great deal more work for us to do in 2017 and hope you will join us in our vision to advocate for public media worldwide.

Sally-Ann Wilson

new board members 2016
Our new Board members elected in Montréal at our annual AGM & Global Conference, Sept 2016. From left to right: Ahmer Shahee, Gerard Teuma, Fran Unsworth, David Sutton, Paul Thompson, Jessie Shih, Anthony Pugh, Umbi Karuaihe-Upi [representing Stanlkey Similo, NBC] and Nanise Fifita.