The Public Media Alliance is producing the session, ‘Mixed reception: PSM and the multicultural audience’ as part of its partnership with the Public Broadcasters International conference, to be held this week in Germany

The panel will be a timely and geographically broadened discussion of the cultural nuances around public media coverage of terror attacks and the global refugee crisis. With speakers from Pakistan, Kenya and Australia, the session offers a rare opportunity for a global overview.

We are in the midst of an era where an increasing number of terrorist attacks are planned with, played out and in some cases attributed to media. Modern media tools could be said to help make these physical and ideological wars borderless and rapidly spreadable. Therefore this is one of the most crucial information challenges for broadcasters around the world.

In such times, can it be argued that the need for multicultural broadcasters and programming is greater than ever?

The ongoing global conflicts linked to these events have also caused a refugee emergency, which according to the UN, is at an unprecedented level – sparking complex debates around security, culture and economics in the countries affected, whether they are in Africa, on the shores of the Mediterranean or in Southeast Asia. In such times, can it be argued that the need for multicultural broadcasters and programming is greater than ever?

Our speakers include Waithaka Wahenya, head of Kenya’s national broadcaster KBC, who was in post during the Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi in 2013. KBC broadcasts in a country where militant group Al Shabaab remain a regular threat. PMA President Moneeza Hashmi is from Pakistan and will be also be discussing language around Islam in the media. And Mark Cummins, from Australian multicultural broadcaster SBS will show its confronting factual programme Go Back to Where you Came From, which throws together a group of Australians with strong opposing views on asylum-seekers and puts them on a ‘reverse refugee journey’ – culminating in a perilous visit to Iraq and Syria. The session will be moderated by Clemens Verenkotte, a foreign correspondent for host broadcaster BR.

This panel will seek to discuss the role of PSM in this climate, as well as debate how a free press can remain fearless and critical without causing offence or perpetuating cultural misunderstandings. It will also ask: How do broadcasters cover fast-moving incidents in a similarly fast-moving media environment without neglecting context, analysis and the deeper story? And how can broadcast formats – dramas, documentaries, factual programming – address, celebrate and educate audiences about cultural differences and diversity, and counter propagandist narratives in new ways?

Find out more about the PBI conference below