“In a rapidly changing global media landscape there is growing uncertainty regarding the sustainability of income and funding levels for Public Service Broadcasters and Public Service Media”

These are the timely words written by the Public Media Alliance’s Finance Manager, Mervyn Warner, as many public media organisations seek to find new funding models in an attempt to future proof their financial sustainability. This is also the basis for Mervyn’s latest report, which offers vital insight into current funding models, the risks associated with them, and their potential for the future.

The original BBC model of a direct licence fee, payable by anyone owning and using specific broadcast receiving equipment, is transparent and demands accountability. This direct link between the public and the public media organisation has often been seen as fundamental to the ethos of PSM. But we need to ask if it is still fit for purpose at a time when people are increasingly interacting with public media via multiple platforms and devices.

Public media has evolved considerably worldwide as a response to different national contexts. The way that it is funded has also been adapted and changed. But despite the differences in funding and governance models, PMA is working to highlight and advocate for the shared values of public media. At a time when trust in the media is at an all-time low, these common values need promoting. They underpin democracy and are fundamental to rebuilding public confidence and trust.

To survive and thrive, public media needs secure and stable funding. In an increasingly crowded digital media space, public media needs to change to maintain political and public funding support. It is perhaps time to engage in a critical debate about what is essential and realistic in terms of funding for public media.

This Insight report draws upon Mervyn’s years of experience in media finance and offers a useful reference point for public media organisations to reflect on their current funding models and develop ideas to secure their long term sustainability.