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.

3. What does FUNDING INSTABILITY look like? 

Public media rely on sustainable and stable funding to fulfil their remits. This be from licence fees, federal or mixed sources. But around the world, public media funding is under threat. Recently, at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), the public broadcaster was forced to rely on its internally generated funds to cover the 2020 elections – “the most expensive GBC has had to cover in recent years”. And in Germany, public broadcasters are facing increased financial pressures following the rejection of the licence fee increase. Austerity measures have already been announced and, as ARD Chairman, Tom Buhrow, warns, “Without sufficient, independently determined funding, the range of programmes, which is rooted in all regions of Germany, will suffer.”

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...

How Canadian TV and film productions are coping with COVID-19

CBC News, The National: Canada’s film industry is in high demand, despite the pandemic. A look at how crews are overcoming the challenges of COVID-19.

What we're listening to ...

Reporting the war on coronavirus

The Media Show, BBC Radio 4: If we are “at war” with coronavirus, where do journalists find the frontline? Or are more distanced, factual pieces better at keeping people informed? Also in the programme, as Joe Biden becomes US President, what does that mean for free speech, combative news stations and the tech platforms?

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Global Headlines

Click on the tab menu below to reveal the latest regional stories.

DRC: Mai-Mai rebel threat to journalists in eastern DRC

RSF: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) call on the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to take firm measures to improve the safety of journalists who are exposed to threats and violence by Mai-Mai militiamen and other armed groups in the east of the country.

EGYPT: Less press freedom than ever in Egypt, 10 years after revolution

RSF: On 25 January, Egypt will mark the 10th anniversary of the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and led to Mohamed Morsi’s election as president the following year, while Reporters Without Borders (RSF) continues to deplore the crackdown on the media and arrest of more than 100 journalists since Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ousted Morsi in a coup in July 2013.

ETHIOPIA & UK: Ethiopia: UK Announces Support for Independent Media in Ethiopia

Via AllAfrica: The UK has launched a new funding project to improve skills and capacity among Ethiopian media outlets. The project focuses on countering, fight COVID-19, and secur fund for media organizations, said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

GHANA: GBC needs over GH¢600,000.00 for live coverage of 2020 Election Petition

Modern Ghana: The State Broadcaster, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), says it needs about GH¢600,000.00 for the live coverage of the 2020 Election Petition.

KENYA: Government urges media to be objective

KBC: Government Spokesperson Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna has urged the media to be at the forefront in enhancing unity by providing correct information.

MALI: Media and Terrorism in Mali: How Can Journalists Adapt?

MFWA: In line with our advocacy mission aimed at creating an environment conducive for the practice of journalism, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has for some time been paying particular attention to the Sahelian zone of West Africa which is in the grip of jihadist insurgents and the implication of this security crisis for the work of journalists. In this vein, the MFWA has published articles highlighting the challenges facing journalists in Niger and Burkina Faso. This third section is focused on Mali.

SOUTH AFRICA: SABC puts in place measures ahead of planned blackout

SABC: The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says it has put in place measures to ensure that the current labour action does not affect operations at the public broadcaster.

SOUTH AFRICA: SABC standoff with unions intensifies as court reaffirms ruling on consultations

News 24: The Labour Court’s dismissal of the Broadcast, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union application for leave to appeal on Friday is set to worsen the rift between the public service broadcaster’s management and its employees.

SOUTH AFRICA: Streaming And Online Audio Is Now More Than Digital Sound Broadcasting – Broadcaster Tells Regulator

Broadcast Media Africa: Media group and broadcaster Primedia has recommended that the Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) ensures final Digital Sound Broadcasting (DSB) regulations make no mention of the switch-off of analogue sound broadcasting services.

UGANDA: Court halts Media Council registration of journalists

Daily Monitor: The High Court in Kampala yesterday quashed with costs the directives by the Media Council that required journalists to register to cover the ongoing General Election and other State events.

ZIMBABWE: “In Zimbabwe there is Freedom of Speech, but no Freedom After the Speech”

IPS: A long-running gag says “in Zimbabwe there is freedom of speech, but no freedom after the speech”. But for journalists and activists who have been forced to endure nights in the country’s overcrowded and filthy holding cells, this is no laughing matter as prison inmates have no personal protective equipment to guard against COVID-19.

CHINA: Media freedom in China: statement from Media Freedom Coalition members

Gov.uk: Members of the Media Freedom Coalition gave a statement about the recent sentencing of Zhang Zhan in China.

HONG KONG: Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK slammed by police union chief over ‘biased’ coverage of Covid-19 lockdown food parcel

HKFP: The head of Hong Kong’s largest police union slammed public broadcaster RTHK on Tuesday for allegedly biased reporting of a weekend lockdown to combat Covid-19, joining in earlier criticism from pro-Beijing sources. 

INDIA: India Cuts Off Government Advertising to Over 30 Kashmiri Outlets 

VOA: News outlets in the Indian-controlled region of Kashmir are under rising financial pressure, as authorities bar more than 30 media houses from state advertising.   

JAPAN: Japan’s news media needs to bark more as gov’t watchdog: former NYT bureau chief (Interview)

The Mainchi: 2020 is over, and a new year has begun. With the government’s performance in question following issues including the declaration of a state of emergency shortly after the New Year holidays, what role is the media playing in overseeing the administration’s actions?

PAKISTAN: Censorship forces BBC to withdraw news show from Pakistani TV

RSF: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regrets that the BBC has had to stop broadcasting a daily Urdu-language news bulletin on Pakistan’s AAJ TV because of constant “inference” by the Pakistani TV channel, under pressure from the authorities. RSF condemns this brazen censorship and calls on Pakistan’s government to stop meddling in media content.

PAKISTAN: Court set to indict Jang editor in land allotment case

Dawn: An accountability court is set to indict Jang media group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakilur Rehman and two others on Jan 28 in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference pertaining to a 34-year-old “illegal land allotment” in his favour, that was allegedly manipulated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

SOUTH KOREA: S. Korea to provide over W20b in media content support this year

The Korean Herald: South Korea’s ICT ministry said Thursday it will provide 21.2 billion won ($19.3 million) to support the production of local broadcast content in a bid to boost next-generation media services.

TAIWAN & CHINA: Taiwan a new outpost for foreign media reporting on China

Taiwan News: The communist country’s hard-line approach to journalism ramps up reporting from Taiwan

TAIWAN & US: Taiwanese American Kelu Chao named acting head of U.S. federal agency

Focus Taiwan: Taiwanese American journalist Kelu Chao has been appointed as interim CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the White House announced Thursday.

THAILAND: How activists and digital publishers are redefining media freedoms in Thailand

Reuters Institute: The protests against the king have created new threats to press freedom but also a thriving digital public sphere, Raksha Kumar reports.

THAILAND: Thai PBS is accepting DTP from 4 February – 5 March ’21 (Press release – Thai)

Thai PBS: Public Broadcasting Service of Thailand (FTI) or Thai PBS Accepting applications for selection and appointment as the Director of Public Broadcasting Organization of Thailand From February 4 – March 5, 64 (total time 30 days) with details as follows.

AUSTRALIA: ABC Director of Strategy Mark Tapley’s opening statement to the Senate Inquiry into the Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020 (Statement)

ABC Australia: 

AUSTRALIA: Australia Day 2021 on your ABC

ABC Australia: The theme of Australia Day this year is Reflect. Respect. Celebrate. January 26, 2021 is a time to reflect on our history, respect the stories of others and celebrate our nation, its achievements and its people. 

AUSTRALIA: Facebook urges focus on Australian media concentration rather than ‘well-trodden ground’ of big tech

The Guardian: Facebook has urged Australian senators to investigate concerns about the concentration of the country’s media ownership, rather than wasting time “re-examining well-trodden ground” regarding the impact of tech giants.

AUSTRALIA: Google threatens to shut down search in Australia if digital news code goes ahead

The Guardian: Google and Facebook are fighting legislation that would force them to enter into negotiations with news media companies for payment for content.

AUSTRALIA: RSF condemns Google for dropping Australian media searches in ‘tests’

Asia Pacific Report: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the arbitrary and opaque experiments that Google is conducting with its search engine in Australia, with the consequence that many national news websites are no longer appearing in the search results seen by some users.

AUSTRALIA: SBS to celebrate Lunar New Year with the launch of new Chinese digital service, SBS中文 (SBS Chinese)

SBS: SBS is expanding its Chinese-language offering with the launch of SBS中文(SBS Chinese), a new digital service for Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking Australians, going live as Lunar New Year begins next month.

FIJI: TV rates highest for election information

FBC: The Fijian Broadcasting Corporation says a Fijian Elections Office survey report that people rely on television for election information is incentive for improvement.

NEW ZEALAND: Vaccine misinformation and distrust a risk (Listen)

RNZ: The government’s being told it has some work on its hands to reach the one in four people who say they don’t intend to get a Covid vaccine. Experts say the government will need to use trusted leaders in different communities to reach people who do not trust the government. They say a failure to do this will worsen health inequities.

BELARUS: In Belarus, a Press Badge Makes You a Target

VOA News: Beatings, arrests, court cases, internet blocks and revocation of press credentials — being an accredited journalist is no longer a guarantee of protection for independent media in Belarus.

BELARUS & ESTONIA: Estonia to raise Belarusian media freedom issue at UN Security Council

The Baltic Times: On Friday 22 January, on the initiative of Estonia, the UN Security Council holds an informal high-level virtual meeting to discuss media freedom in Belarus.

DENMARK: New boss had to drop his plans (Danish)

DR: Klaus Wendelboe had only just sat in the executive chair at DR Midt & Vest when the corona hit the country. Here he tells what it is like to be a new boss in a turbulent and unpredictable year.

FINLAND: Explanation: Social media exposes journalists to new types of threats (Finnish) 

Yle: An external study recommends Yle’s unified operating models that support journalists under pressure from social media.

FRANCE: France Télévisions will launch “Culturebox”, an ephemeral channel to support culture` (French)

FranceInfo: France Télévisions will launch at the beginning of February an ephemeral channel called Culturebox, “accessible on all screens”. It will disappear with the reopening of cultural places.

FRANCE: Launch of “Equalité 360°”, Radio France’s ambitious program (Press release – French) 

Radio France: Radio France has taken determined action in recent years in favor of equality and parity, as well as the fight against discrimination. This action is being reinforced and extended within the Egalité 360 ° program intended to promote diversity in all its forms, both on the air and in all of Radio France’s businesses and activities.

GERMANY: More than twice as many attacks on journalists (German)

Süddeutsche Zeitung: The attacks against the press in Germany increased extremely in 2020, announced the federal government. Most of the incidents occurred on demos.

GREECE: Greece backtracks on restricting press freedom (Spanish)

Swissinfo: The Greek Government has backed down this Friday, after the barrage of protests by journalists’ associations, in its attempt to restrict the freedom of the media to cover protests within the framework of its new plan demonstration management.

IRELAND: RTÉ reports deficit of €7.2m for 2019

RTÉ News: RTÉ said there was a decline in commercial revenue in 2019 of €4.2m due to Brexit uncertainty and changes in media consumption habits.

MALTA: Landmark legal challenge seeks to stop Malta’s political parties owning TV stations

Euronews: The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 sent shockwaves throughout Malta, setting off a political earthquake that saw the eventual toppling of a prime minister and the spotlight firmly fixed on imperilled press freedoms.

NETHERLANDS: NOS reports a threat to journalists (Dutch)

De Volkskrant: The NOS has filed a complaint against corona activist Ronald Laken, who in a video on Instagram advises NOS employees and journalists to ‘flee the Netherlands’ because something will be ‘done’ to them. He made the appeal following the corona demonstration and riots on the Museumplein last Sunday. 

RUSSIA: Hunt for journalists: intimidation, detention and violence (Russian) 

Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers: The trade union of journalists recorded 58 violations of the rights of journalists in Russia on 23 January. These violations include 49 arrests, 6 separate incidents of violence and three more cases of unlawful detention for document checks. This is a record compared to the violation of the rights of journalists at other major protests in recent years.

SPAIN: Candidates to the RTVE Council present to the Congress their different financing proposals for the Corporation (Spanish)

El Confidencial Digital: The candidates to the Board of Directors of RTVE, who have appeared this Wednesday before the Advisory Committee of Appointments of the Congress, have presented different proposals to finance the public Corporation.

UK: BBC faces financial ‘uncertainty’ due to reliance on licence fee – report

The Guardian: National Audit Office also highlights risks of falling audience share and broadcaster being ‘slow to change’.

UK: BBC responds to NAO reports as value of licence fee revenue drops 31% in a decade

Digital TV Europe: The BBC has responded to the UK National Audit Office’s recent report on its financial plight and other challenges facing it by pointing to initiatives currently underway, including its intention to address the next phase of savings in its forthcoming annual plan.

UK: Record number of kids turn to the BBC for education and entertainment (Press release)

BBC Media Centre: Last week (11-17 January), children’s programming on BBC iPlayer was requested a record breaking 40.8m times as children turn to the BBC for education and entertainment during lockdown.

UK: Star hosts gear up as Britain braces for partisan TV news

The Guardian: Two ‘boldly different’ new contenders for our attention will soon hit millions of screens. Can BBC impartiality survive the assault?

UK: TV licence fee decriminalisation decision shelved

BBC: The government has decided not to move ahead with plans to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee, but said it would “remain under active consideration”.

BOLIVIA: Six press workers die in Bolivia from covid in five days (Spanish)

Swissinfo: Four journalists and two cameramen have died in five days because of covid-19 in Bolivia, which is going through a second wave of the pandemic.

BRAZIL: 15 bills in Brazil toughen penalties for crimes against journalists; organizations criticize impunity

LatAm Journalism Review: At a time of worsening press freedom in Brazil, at least 15 legislative bills seek to protect media professionals from attacks.

BRAZIL: RSF tallied 580 attacks against media in Brazil in 2020

RSF: In the latest of its series of reports on attacks against the media under President Jair Bolsonaro, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) provides a quantified assessment of press freedom violations in 2020 and looks back at some of the most significant episodes in a year in which constant harassment by the president and his immediate circle poisoned the environment for journalists.

COLOMBIA: ‘Public radio is used to tell a diverse country’ (Spanish) 

El Tiempo: Dora Brausin, RTVC Radio Deputy Manager, talks about the power of the medium in the country, of rock and peace.

PERU: Peruvian media create alliance with support from UN to verify information during electoral campaign in Indigenous languages

LatAm Journalism Review: Ama Llulla, “don’t lie” in Quechua, is the new Peruvian fact-checking network created to combat false information during the electoral campaign ahead of the April 11 general elections.

PALESTINE: Palestine: Elections highlight need to protect freedom of expression

Via IFEX: With the announcement of the first general Palestinian elections in 15 years, MADA Center underscores the need to protect press freedom, freedom of expression, and the right to access information throughout the electoral process and beyond.

PALESTINE: Palestine: PJS reports 608 cases of media rights violations in 2020

IFJ: There were more than 600 violations of media and journalists’ rights during 2020 in Palestine, according to the latest report from the Palestine Journalists Syndicate (PJS)… 

TURKEY: BİA MEDIA MONITORING REPORT 2020: Our jaw has dropped in the face of this media freedom!

Bianet: Still talking about “raising the level of freedoms” in Turkey in its 18th year in power, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is occupied with silencing the critical media against the spirit of the Human Rights Strategic Document, which foresees reforms until the year 2023.

TURKEY: Journalism in Turkey: Practices, Challenges, Opportunities (Review)

Middle East Monitor

REGIONAL: Ten years after the Arab Spring, the region’s media faces grave threats. Here are the top press freedom trends

CPJ: Across the Middle East and North Africa, many countries trace a similar arc. Ten years after the Arab Spring, revolutions calling for democratic reforms have resulted in further government repression in Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco, and other countries. Meanwhile, civil wars rage in Syria and Yemen, and up until 2017, Iraq. 

CANADA: CBC Music expands programming with two new national radio shows focused on the discovery of Black and global music (Press release)

CBC/Radio-Canada: CBC Music today announced two new national radio shows, THE BLOCK (February 1) and FREQUENCIES (February 2), which will bolster the discovery of Black and global music and artists, and serve a greater range of musical interests and communities across Canada.

CANADA: CBC / Radio-Canada’s news service defends its impartiality before the CRTC (French)

Radio-Canada: Radio-Canada’s news director, Luce Julien, considers it “not surprising that citizens [have] the impression that Radio-Canada is not impartial”, particularly because of the polarization of the society.

CANADA: CRTC hearings continue on CBC’s program licensing renewal

CBC News: Public broadcaster seeking more ‘flexibility’ on financial reporting for online platforms.

CANADA: Quebec media must be allowed to show the ravages of COVID-19 (Letter)

CBC News: Nineteen media outlets in Quebec, including the CBC, have signed an open letter today calling on the Quebec government and public-health authorities to give journalists access to the province’s health institutions.

CANADA: Two fellowships for Indigenous journalists offered (Opportunity)

RCI: Indigenous journalists with between one and 10 years of experience are invited to apply for one of two fellowships offered by The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) and the news department of the public broadcaster, CBC. The CJF was founded in 1990 with a stated goal of promoting, celebrating and facilitating excellence in journalism.

US: APTS Statement on the Inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris

APTS: America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) president and CEO Patrick Butler issued the following statement today on the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris…

US: Caillou cancelled by PBS: Kids’ TV is now more diverse, but must do better

The Conversation: On Jan. 5, PBS Kids announced it was going to stop airing Caillou, a children’s show whose run on TV spanned 24 years. A mix of reactions spilled onto to social media, with some celebrating the show’s cancellation and others saddened by the end of their childhood show.

US: Community Broadcaster: How Biden Helps Radio

Radio World: Four ways the Biden/Harris administration can engage with local broadcasters.

US: Pubcasters urge FCC to offer ‘flexibility’ on proposed foreign government sponsorship rules (Paywall)

Current: NPR, PBS and America’s Public Television Stations are requesting that the FCC adjust proposed rules that would expand broadcasters’ responsibility to label programs that were financially supported by a foreign government.

US: Trump lit the fuse, but anti-media sentiment among his supporters may outlast him

CPJ: Joe Biden’s subdued — if heavily guarded — inauguration at the U.S. Capitol was a marked contrast to the events there two weeks prior, when journalists were assaulted, harassed, and had their equipment destroyed by protesters who sought to overturn the election in favor of Donald Trump. Yet with Trump now out of the White House — and banned from Twitter – animosity toward the press among some Trump supporters and far-right extremist groups is unlikely to diminish, reporters and researchers of extremism told CPJ. 

US: USAGM Chief Fires Trump Allies Over Radio Free Europe And Other Networks

NPR: The acting CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media continued her sweep of federally funded international broadcasters to remove leaders linked to former President Donald Trump.

US & RUSSIA: US House Members Warn of Growing Russian Threat Against Radio Free Europe

VOA News: Five members of the U.S. House of Representatives Friday urged President Joe Biden’s administration to confront what they said is a growing threat from Russia against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

How a project is training incarcerated people to become journalists

Poynter: The Prison Journalism Project helps share ‘stories that are never told and never seen because nobody gets in deep enough’ into incarcerated issues.

How covid-19 impacted journalism in emerging economies and the Global South (Report)

Journalism.co.uk: On top of battling against a deadly virus, journalists in many countries had to fight censorship, misinformation and fragile business models. A new report shows fresh approaches newsrooms have used in covering covid-19.

Knight Center to host webinar on COVID-19 vaccines coverage, in partnership with UNESCO & WHO (Event)

Knight Centre: The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin is holding a free webinar aimed at helping journalists deepen their understanding and coverage of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Respect users’ expectations and four other tips for journalists using TikTok (Watch)

Reuters Institute: The BBC’s Sophia Smith Galer shares advice for how journalists can work on the video sharing app.

To publish or not to publish? The media’s free-speech dilemmas in a world of division, violence and extremism 

The Conversation: Terrorism, political extremism, Donald Trump, social media and the phenomenon of “cancel culture” are confronting journalists with a range of agonising free-speech dilemmas to which there are no easy answers.

Webinar: PSM in Challenging Times (Event)

InnoPSM: In this talk, Prof. Graham Murdock will analyse public service media in the challenging times we live in.

What COVID reporters can learn from Hiroshima (Listen)

CJR: IN THE AFTERMATH of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, journalists struggled to cover the devastation in a way that resonated, much as they have with the covid-19 pandemic today. In Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World, Lesley M.M. Blume tells the story of how New Yorker journalist John Hersey cracked the code.

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.

Header Image: Students Experimenting With Video Software stock photo. Credit: TommL/iStock 

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