Our weekly round-up of public service media related stories and headlines from around the world

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, the need for community solidarity and mutual support has never been greater. But this support requires quality, fact-checked and evidence based news and information.

With this in mind, the Public Media Alliance has compiled an extensive and growing list of resources featuring recommended tools, advice and sources for journalists and the public alike. The resources can be found via the link below or in the Tools section of our website.

If you have any recommendations, please let us know.

What is...

Editorial independenceTransparencyPluralism. These are just a few terms we regularly hear when the conversation focuses on public media. But what do these terms mean? And can we identify them when we are faced with them?

This year, PSM Weekly will regularly feature brief explainers highlighting concepts related to public media and public interest media as well as the threats facing these organisations and how they manifest worldwide.

2. What does AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT look like? 

Audience engagement fosters accountability, builds trust, and provides an opportunity for citizens to amplify their voices. Increasingly, engagement can come in the form of public broadcasters inviting audiences to have more control over, and be directly involved in, the content they consume. The BBC World Service, for instance, recently announced its International Podcast Competition, an initiative that allows full-time residents of Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa to pitch podcast ideas. NPO in the Netherlands similarly launched a public pitch for a TV programme, which received more than 3,500 submissions. NPO chairman Shula Rijxman said, “As always, the NPO stations and broadcasters are open to all sounds in society and already offer various ways in which to do so. With ‘Your Idea on TV’ we open the door even further, to really reach everyone and give a voice.”

Encouraging citizen journalism has been a useful way of improving direct citizen engagement. Well established examples include PTS’s Peopo initiative in Taiwan and Thai PBS’s C-Site.

We also want to hear about your local public media coverage! Email us!

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, public media are rapidly adapting to best cover the crisis on a local level while also providing for educational needs and vulnerable groups as isolation policies are introduced.

We want to hear from our members about what you are doing to best cover the crisis on a local level. Email us using the link below.

Coronavirus: Resources & best practices

Essential resources for sourcing and reporting news about the coronavirus pandemic

What we're watching...

Solutions to SABC challenges: Mark Weinberg

SABC: The SABC says it’s confident it will complete its internal recruitment process within two weeks. The public broadcaster has given out letters of redundancy or surplus to hundreds of staff members as its retrenchment process unfolds. For a reaction to this, we’re joined by Mark Weinberg from Right2Know.

What we're listening to ...

‘Dark day in American history’: CBC’s Katie Simpson on the chaotic scene at U.S. Capitol

CBC Radio: Katie Simpson says she “witnessed history firsthand” — and the story is still unfolding. A large mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday as Congress was about to ratify Joe Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election. D.C. police said a woman who was shot on the scene had died, and several officers were injured. As of Wednesday evening, the building was on lockdown. Simpson, CBC’s senior Washington correspondent, watched the chaotic scene unfold. Here is part of her conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off. 

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Global Headlines

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ETHIOPIA: Q&A: Tsedale Lemma on new threats to the Ethiopian press

CJR: In 2019, Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, received the Nobel Peace Prize. He was credited with resolving a decades-long border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and releasing thousands of political prisoners. Ethiopia had once been named the second leading jailer of journalists in Africa by the Committee to Protect Journalists; Ahmed also promised to end state hostilities with his media.

GHANA: GBC to broadcast live proceedings of 2020 election petition

GBC Ghana: Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) will broadcast live proceedings of the 2020 election petition on all its networks.

KENYA: Media Urged To Shun Negative Stories

Kenya News Agency: Government spokesperson Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna has urged journalists to shun negative news stories, but instead focus on relaying positive aspect of issues to the citizens.

NAMIBIA: NBC staff set for salary hikes

The Namibian: Employees at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) are in for a salary increase, yet the future of 133 contract workers remains uncertain.

SOUTH AFRICA: Right2Know Campaign outraged after SABC goes ahead with retrenchments (Watch)

SABC News: The Right2Know Campaign says it is outraged that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)  is pushing ahead with retrenchments. They warned of the impact it will have on indigenous language radio stations. 

SOUTH AFRICA: SABC Refutes Claims Shutting African-Language Stations

Broadcast Media Africa: The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is refuting claims that it will be closing its radio services, particularly African-language stations. The broadcaster said that reports that African-language news bulletins on free-to-air television channels were being discontinued “are completely false”.

SOUTH AFRICA: Unions unveil plans for industrial action at the SABC

SABC News: The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) and the Communications Workers Union (CWU) have unveiled plans for industrial action at the SABC. It includes a motorcade to the Union Buildings, a go-slow and a 4-hour blackout on Friday.

UGANDA: “Democracy in darkness”: Uganda’s journalists under pressure amid pivotal election

IPI: Authorities blocked access to internet, hindering journalists’ work.

UGANDA: Internet access restored in Uganda after 5-day blackout

The East African: Internet is back on in Uganda five days after the government ordered service providers to switch it off just hours to last Thursday’s general election. The shutdown elicited widespread criticism and condemnation against the government.

ZIMBABWE: Lockdown to shutdown: How COVID-19 stifled digital rights in Zimbabwe

Global Voices: Pandemic regulations intensified clamp downs on dissenting voices.

HONG KONG: HKJA rules out appeal over police treatment of media

RTHK: The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) says it will not appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of its legal challenge over the police’s behaviour towards reporters at protests.

HONG KONG: Outrage after RTHK producer axed from program production

Hong Kong Standard: RTHK’s Programme Staff Union slammed the public broadcaster’s decision to cut its staffer Bao Choy Yuk-ling from the production of the documentary program “Hong Kong Connection”.

INDIA: AIR RJs refute Prasar Bharati’s claims that no station has been shutdown during COVID-19

The Times of India

INDIA: Digital Radio Mondiale in Focus in India

Radio World: Activities include FM, education and receiver penetration.

INDIA: No AIR station being closed anywhere in any state: Prasar Bharati

Dev Discourse: Prasar Bharati has further stated that no AIR station is being downgraded or converted anywhere in any state or union territory.

INDONESIA: Credibility and the Spirit of Sacrifice of the RRI Dewas (Indonesian)

RRI: The stages of selecting candidates for members of the Public Broadcasting Agency for the Radio of the Republic of Indonesia (LPP RRI) for the 2021-2026 period have entered the implementation stage…

JAPAN: NHK to reduce viewer fees in fiscal 2023

The Japan Times: Public broadcaster NHK plans to lower its viewer fees in fiscal 2023, informed sources said Wednesday.

KAZAKHSTAN: Reporters prevented from covering Kazakh parliamentary elections

RSF: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by the way officials obstructed reporters during the parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan on 10 January, often using Covid-19 regulations as a pretext, and calls on the Kazakh authorities to shed light on these press freedom violations.

MALAYSIA: Malaysia: Union calls for cooperation amidst national lockdown

IFJ: Malaysia’s national journalism union has requested cooperation from Malaysia’s government as well as media and non-media workers in addressing restrictions to media freedom under Malaysia’s latest emergency order.

NEPAL: Media fails to uphold its role as watchdog (Opinion)

The Kathmandu Post: The government tried to stop criticism by threatening and spreading fear among journalists.

NEPAL: Nepal awaits improvement in press freedom atmosphere (Press release)

Freedom Forum: Freedom Forum recorded a total of 96 press freedom violations during the year,2020. Although the violations’ number declined slightly compared to the previous year (111 in 2019), the country still awaits improvement in press freedom atmosphere.

PAKISTAN: BBC Urdu TV ends broadcasts on AAJ (Urdu)

BBC News: The BBC has ceased broadcasting Urdu language news bulletins via Pakistan-based AAJ TV.  

PAKISTAN: Cabinet removes Naeem as PTV chairman

Dawn: A day after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) barred Naeem Bukhari from serving as chairman of Pakistan Television, the federal cabinet removed him and two other directors of PTV board on Friday.

PAKISTAN: Geo News cameraman beaten up outside Islamabad court (Watch)

Geo: A Geo News cameraman Nasir Mughal was beaten up while covering the Barrister Fahad Malik murder case outside an anti-terrorism court on Monday.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan government urged to act over online hate campaign directed at Independent and BBC journalists

The Independent: For two weeks, journalists from Urdu editions of The Independent and BBC have faced death threats and had personal details published online.

PHILIPPINES: Duterte critic and journalist Maria Ressa charged again with cyber libel

France 24: Embattled Philippine journalist Maria Ressa faces a third cyber libel charge, her lawyer said Thursday, this time for a story over students allegedly paying a professor for passing grades.

SOUTH KOREA: Will commercial breaks give second chance to terrestrial broadcasters? 

The Korea Herald: Half-time ads permitted for terrestrial broadcasters, as well as product placements of alcoholic beverages for shows after 10 p.m.

TAIWAN & CHINA: Reports on China: Alternative location Taiwan (German) 

Deutschlandfunk: China allows fewer and fewer foreign journalists to report from the People’s Republic. As a result, many have now switched to Taiwan. The young democracy there enables free press – but has to learn how to deal with it.

THAILAND: Thai PBS steps into its 14th year, announces 5 focus points, and pushes the agenda in the middle (Press release – Thai)

Thai PBS: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wilasinee Phiphitikul, Director of Public Broadcasting Organization of Thailand (FTI) or Thai PBS, announces 2021 goals and social driving agenda at the anniversary of Thai PBS. Step into the 14th year on January 15, 2021 by allowing the general public to view, summarize the work and the next step of Thai PBS “public media, a learning space for everyone” via online channels. 

VIETNAM: Vietnam Tightens Info Controls for Party Congress as 2020 Violations Cited in HRW Report

Radio Free Asia: Vietnam has added new information controls ahead of a ruling Communist Party Congress, setting up an “Anti-Fake News Center” and threatening to punish any leak of leadership candidates, new curbs on top of a 2020 crackdown that saw intensified repression of civil and political rights.

AUSTRALIA: ABC response to Sinclair Davidson in the Australian Financial Review (Statement)

ABC Australia: Sinclair Davidson writing in the Australian Financial Review has presented a basket case of inaccuracies about the role of the ABC and its value to Australians.

AUSTRALIA: ABC reverses editorial decisions on Capitol breach and Craig Kelly Covid posts

The Guardian: Staff initially banned from calling attack on US Capitol an insurrection and changes reference to Kelly’s ‘unofficial information’ to ‘misinformation’.

AUSTRALIA: US Government asks Australia to scrap proposed laws to make Facebook, Google pay for news

ABC News: The US has asked Australia to scrap proposed laws that would make it the first country in the world to force Facebook and Google to pay for news sourced from local media outlets.

NEW ZEALAND: RNZ 2021: New and Coming Soon (Media release)

RNZ: RNZ’s regular on-air schedule resumes next Monday 25 January, after a month of summer programming. In 2020, more New Zealanders than ever tuned in to RNZ on-air and online*, continuing to enhance RNZ’s reputation as a leading multi-platform media service. 

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Solomon Islands withdraws Facebook ban threat – media

Reuters: The Solomon Islands will not go ahead with a planned ban on the use of Facebook and instead will work with the platform to address concerns over inflammatory critiques of the government aired on it in recent months, local media reported on Wednesday.

ANDORRA: Interview with Xavier Mujal, Director General of Ràdio i Televisió d’Andorra (Interview)

EBU: Xavier Mujal, RTVA Director General, speaks to Beatriz Pastor y Puga, EBU Head of Member Relations South.

FRANCE: France: ‘L’Equipe’ and France TV journalists strike over working conditions and redundancies

IFJ: Journalists at sports newspaper ‘L’Equipe’ and France TV channels have taken strike action in a dispute over a job protection plan and dismissals. The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) stand in solidarity with striking workers and their French affiliates.

GERMANY: ARD-Medienverbund: High acceptance and appreciation in all regions and age groups (Press release – German)

ARD: The ARD media network is part of the life of the people in Germany. Every week, 92 percent of the total population use at least one ARD service on television, radio and the Internet, with the younger (14-29 years) it is 87 percent. 80 percent of the people in Germany and 61 percent of the younger generation are reached by ARD every day…

GERMANY: Broadcasting Reform Debate: Saarland rejects the merger of SR with SWR (German)

Deutschlandfunk: After the temporary end for an increase in the broadcasting fee, the public broadcasters have to save. The SWR has therefore brought a kind of merger with the Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR) into play. The SR itself rejects this – and the state government also emphasizes the independence of the station.

GERMANY: No higher broadcasting fee: Deutschlandradio cancels collective agreements (German)

Heise Online: For the time being, the license fee will not increase. Proceedings are ongoing at the Federal Constitutional Court. There are already consequences for the employees.

HUNGARY: Hungary’s Government in Reality Controls More than Half of Leading Media (Opinion)

Balkan Insight: Research shows Orban’s allies exert control over more than 50 per cent of influential media outlets. And that does not mean the rest belongs to the opposition; rather these outlets operate as independent islands, which also act independently of each other.

IRELAND: RTÉ warns of services impact as ‘current funding model is broken’

The Irish Examiner: RTÉ will face “a material uncertainty” about its capacity to provide its current level of services in the medium-term unless its broken funding model is addressed “quickly and definitively”, according to RTÉ chairperson, Moya Doherty.

MALTA: Public broadcaster to receive €30 million over five years to create non-commercial content

Malta Today: OPM Minister Carmelo Abela says that PBS should serve as a platform for talented and creative people to ‘continue to grow and produce high-quality content’.

NETHERLANDS: Radio stations NPO are growing for the fourth year in a row (Press release – Dutch)

NPO: The listening time share of the national radio stations of the public broadcaster has grown for the fourth year in a row in 2020. NPO Radio 1, 2, 4, 5 and NPO 3FM together account for an average listening time share of 31.2%. In 2016, the combined listening time share was 28.9%.

NETHERLANDS: Shula Rijxman: ‘The Dutch will never accept that the NPO will disappear’ (Dutch)

Nu.nl: In her latest New Year’s speech as chairman of the board of Public Broadcasting, Shula Rijxman declares war on fake news and the intimidation of journalists. “The number of threats has multiplied, which is unacceptable and a shame[…]”, Rijxman told NU.nl.

POLAND: Poland proposes social media ‘free speech’ law

BBC News: Poland’s government has proposed a new law to stop social media platforms deleting content or banning users who do not break Polish laws.

POLAND: Poland’s PiS-Poor Media

Balkan Insight: The governing Law and Justice party is stepping up its long-threatened takeover of Poland’s commercial media sector.

RUSSIA: Russian Watchdog Takes First Step Toward Punishing RFE/RL Under ‘Foreign Agents’ Law

RFE/RL: Russia’s telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor has drawn up its first eight administrative protocols — all against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty — for violating the country’s controversial foreign agents law.

SLOVENIA: Slovenia resumes funding news agency after EU warning

Euractiv: The Slovenian government said on Thursday (14 January) it had restored the financing of national news agency STA after Brussels warned against any attempt to pressure public media outlets.

SLOVENIA: Slovenia’s Public Media Under Pressure 

VOA: Slovenia’s media have played a crucial role in the past 30 years, as the country declared independence, introduced a democratic political system, liberalized its economy and became one of the first former communist states to join the European Union.

SPAIN: RTVE workers ask by letter to the future president to take care of transparency and stop the outsourcing of programs (Spanish)

El Confidencial Digital: The staff demands an efficient management model and that external productions are supported by reports that guarantee that they cannot be carried out with their own resources.

SWEDEN: More investigative in SVT’s local journalism (Swedish)

Nordvision: More original journalism in the local news will broaden the image of Sweden. Already now, for example, there is a collaboration with Assignment Review around investigative reporting. We have noticed this and other things during this week.

UK: BBC licence fee is ‘least worst’ option, says new chairman Richard Sharp

BBC News: The licence fee is the “least worst” way of funding the BBC, its incoming chairman Richard Sharp has said.

UK: BBC iPlayer sees record-breaking start to 2021, with biggest week ever

BBC: The start of 2021 has seen viewing surge on BBC iPlayer, with the first full week (4 January – 10 January) breaking records as viewers streamed 162 million programmes – as they flocked to watch programmes like The Serpent, A Perfect Planet, Traces and EastEnders on iPlayer.

UK: ITV seeks new chair; Richard Sharp appointment confirmed at BBC

Digital TV Europe: UK broadcaster ITV has reportedly started searching for a new chairman, with Sir Peter Bazalgaette set to step down in 2022.

BRAZIL: FENAJ condemns cyber attacks and threats against Repórter Brasil (Statement – Portuguese)

FENAJ: The National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ) joins the Union of Professional Journalists in the State of São Paulo (SJSP) in repudiating cyber attacks, followed by threats, suffered by the NGO Repórter Brasil earlier this year.

COLOMBIA: The importance of informative content in public media (Spanish)

Señal Colombia: We spoke with Hernando Álvarez, a Colombian journalist at the BBC, about his experience in a global information platform that is free for all citizens.

ECUADOR: Former employees of seized media ask the Government to appoint a new manager of Public Media (Spanish)

El Universo: The ex-employees of the seized media asked the Government to appoint a new manager of the Public Media so that he can continue with the process of paying the amounts pending settlement.

GUYANA: Constitutional reform: the media (Opinion)

Stabroek News

JAMAICA: RJRGleaner completes restructuring; 107 workers made redundant (17 Dec 2020)

Loop Jamaica: RJRGLEANER Communications Group made 107 workers redundant as part of a restructuring exercise completed last Friday which the company said was “primarily driven by the negative impact” of COVID-19.

NICARAGUA: NGO registered 16 attacks on press freedom in Nicaragua in December (Spanish)

Swiss Info: The non-governmental Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation reported this Friday that it registered 16 attacks on press freedom in Nicaragua last December, in which aggressions and attacks on journalists predominated.

PERU: TVPerú is celebrating its anniversary!: 63 years bringing culture, information and entertainment (Spanish)

TVPerú: TVPerú promotes culture, entertainment and information, with proposals for the whole family.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: CBU Welcomes Court Ruling Protecting Journalists’ Sources in Trinidad and Tobago 

CBU: The Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) has welcomed a ruling by the Supreme Court in Trinidad and Tobago which has struck down the use of search warrants obtained by the police and used to gain access to a journalist’s home and office from which tools of the journalist’s trade were seized.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: Wake-up call on press freedom (Editorial)

Trinidad Express: The judgment delivered by Justice Frank Seepersad on Wednesday in favour of this newspaper, its editor-in-chief and publishing company underscores the urgent need for strengthening legislative protection of press freedom and journalistic sources.

VENEZUELA: New wave of censorship targeting critical media outlets

RSF: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Venezuelan government’s new offensive against critical and independent media outlets including VP ITV, an online TV news broadcaster. This offensive is having a dire impact on the freedom to inform and on the country’s entire population, RSF says.

VENEZUELA: Union and organizations reject measures against independent Venezuelan media (Spanish)

VOA News: Confiscation of equipment, temporary closures or opening of administrative procedures are some of the actions implemented by the Venezuelan authorities against various independent media. Union representatives, human rights organizations and even the United Nations have rejected the measures.

JORDAN: Jordan: MP spreads false accusations about media

IFJ: A Jordanian parliamentarian has accused media and journalists in the country of spreading misleading rumors and “poisoned ideas”, amongst other charges, during a speech on 8 January…

LEBANON: Lebanon : Violence against reporters becoming more frequent in Lebanon

RSF: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the increasingly frequent cases of violence against journalists in Lebanon and calls on the authorities to protect media personnel, who are becoming very worried.

TURKEY: Turkey: Five journalists attacked in first 15 days of 2021

EFJ: In these first 15 days of 2021, the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) already recorded five physical attacks against journalists in Turkey…

REGIONAL: Press freedom and the Arab Spring, ten years on


CANADA: CBC defends efforts to diversify workforce at CRTC licence hearing

CBC News: Public broadcaster also explains supper-hour news cuts during COVID-19 pandemic. 

CANADA: CRTC peppers CBC with questions about plans for controversial branded content

CBC News: More than 70 former CBC employees sent letter to CRTC asking it to investigate Tandem

CANADA: Private broadcasters’ group argues CBC is disrupting the market by selling ads

CBC News: Canadian Association of Broadcasters says focus on attracting audience distracts from public mandate

US: An antiracist future: a vision and plan for the transformation of public media (Comment – Paywall)

Current: When public media host and journalist Celeste Headlee began a series of Zoom meetings last year, she didn’t know the discussions would lead to a movement to address racism in the industry. But the Public Media Anti-Racist Partnership published a call to action [on] Monday with more than 200 co-signers and endorsements from several station leaders.

US: CPJ Safety Advisory: Covering the build-up to the U.S. presidential inauguration

CPJ: Tensions remain high in the U.S. in the build-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021.

US: From ‘Protest’ To ‘Riot’ To ‘Insurrection’ — How NPR’s Language Evolved (Opinion)

NPR: Even before the first Trump supporter breached the U.S. Capitol last week, American journalists were already sifting through words that have not historically been applied to American democracy — words like coup and kleptocracy.

US: PBS and Smithsonian to Provide Free Content to Educators (Press release)

PBS: Today, PBS announced a new collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution to bring learning-ready content to Pre-K-12 grade educators nationwide. As museums remain closed due to COVID-19, beginning today, a collection of free, standards-aligned Smithsonian content will be brought to life on PBS LearningMedia – an online destination that serves more than 1.6 million users each month — with new resources to be added to this collection on a regular basis.

US: Trump, tech and TV have throttled press freedom, journalists say


US: VOA journalists call on director to resign over ‘propaganda event’ for Pompeo

The Guardian: Coalition alleges director and deputy director retaliated against a veteran reporter for questioning secretary of state. 

Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2021 (Report)

Reuters Institute

New reports highlight journalists’ ethical challenges in the digital age and need for enhanced dialogue with media councils (Report)

EFJ: The Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations and the four journalism schools in French-speaking Belgium today released two reports looking at journalists’ and journalism students’ perceptions of self-regulation bodies, ethical standards and challenges they face in the digital age. The findings show that more dialogue and awareness is needed to apprehend ethics in today’s journalism.

Saving journalism: new report examines global initiatives for media in the post-covid world (Report)

CIMA: Dozens of plans to help save journalism have emerged since the COVID-19 pandemic decimated media outlets around the world, the arrival of the pandemic adding urgency to an already perilous situation. The economic effects have helped to create what some are calling a “media extinction event.”…

There’s no such thing as ‘alternative facts’. 5 ways to spot misinformation and stop sharing it online

The Conversation: The blame for the recent assault on the US Capitol and President Donald Trump’s broader dismantling of democratic institutions and norms can be laid at least partly on misinformation and conspiracy theories.

World Radio Day 2021 theme announced

Asia Radio Today: On February 13, UNESCO will be celebrating the 10th edition of World Radio Day (WRD), with the theme “New World, New Radio.”

PSM Weekly is available via email. You can subscribe by signing up to our mailing list at the bottom of the page or email editor@publicmediaalliance.org.

All PSM Weekly stories are provided for interest and their relevance to public service media issues, they do not necessarily reflect the views of the Public Media Alliance.

All headlines are sourced from their original story.

If you have any suggestions for our weekly round-ups, please email PMA at editor@publicmediaalliance.org.

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