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.

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What is...

Our weekly explainers for key public media terms, phrases and values.

4️⃣ What does UNIVERSALISM look like? 

Universalism is a key public media value. Ideally, universalism means ensuring access for a national population to public media services across geographic and financial constraints, interests, languages, and understanding. With such a broad undertaking, universalism can have many faces. In Sweden, public broadcaster SVT has made an “historic” investment in local journalism by launching four new newsrooms in 2021, adding to its nearly 50 national locations. In 2020, Australian public broadcaster, SBS, launched a multilingual coronavirus portal in 63 languages and more recently, a Chinese digital service. Regardless of the face it takes on, universalism should ensure audiences – no matter where they are or who they are – are not only being reached but are being engaged with meaningfully.

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Coronavirus: Resources & best practices

Essential resources for sourcing and reporting news about the coronavirus pandemic

What we're watching...

Covering the COVID-19 vaccine: What journalists need to know

Knight Center: “Covering the COVID-19 vaccine: What journalists need to know” was organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas in partnership with UNESCO and the World Health Organization, with funding from the European Union. It will feature three panels led by journalists, medical experts, and researchers who will offer insights on immediate issues of relevance related to the COVID-19 vaccination development and rollout. 

What we're watching...

New World, New Radio (WRD 2021 official video)

UNESCO: This February 13, join UNESCO and thousands of stations to celebrate World Radio Day.” NEW WORLD, NEW RADIO” is the theme of this 10th edition. In this year of change and adjustment, UNESCO and your local station are committed to ensuring that radio continues to evolve, to innovate, to connect.

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Global Headlines

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BURUNDI: Burundi: President calls on regulator to ease crackdown on media

IFJ: President Evariste Ndayishimiye instructed the National Communication Council (CNC) on 28 January to settle differences with banned independent media outlets and to discuss their reopening . 

GHANA: GBC, UESD collaborate to promote science programmes

GBC Ghana: The Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Professor Amin Alhassan says the Corporation is committed to using its resources to support the development of education in the country.

LIBERIA: Journalists attacked, harassed, and threatened while covering Liberian senate election

CPJ: In the days leading up to and following senatorial elections in Liberia on December 8, 2020, security forces and civilians attacked, harassed, and threatened members of the press, according to journalists who spoke with CPJ and a statement shared on Facebook by the Press Union of Liberia, a local trade group.

NAMIBIA: Jacobs calls on NBC workers to return to negotiating table (Watch)

NBC: The NBC board chairperson, Lazarus Jacobs is appealing to NAPWU and the NBC union representatives to further engage in talks instead of declaring a dispute with the Labour Commissioner.

NAMIBIA: NBC offers one-off payment as part of ongoing wage negotiations (Watch)

NBC: The NBC has offered a one-off payment of between N$10 000 and N$20 000 for employees in the bargaining unit, as part of the ongoing wage negotiations with NAPWU. The offer is an alternative to the workers’ demand for salary increment and other conditions of employment.

SOMALIA: Somali Journalists Worry About Arrests Ahead of Elections 

VOA: The Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), a press freedom group, says at least 14 journalists have been arrested and a radio station attacked in the country in just three weeks. The group condemned the latest attacks on media organizations and their workers, which come as Somalia prepares for parliamentary and presidential elections.

SOUTH AFRICA: SABC considering fresh proposals to avert retrenchments

SABC News: Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board has requested to be given until this Friday’s (29 Jan) board meeting to consider proposals aimed at avoiding a jobs bloodbath at the public broadcaster.

SOUTH AFRICA: SABC welcomes ruling ordering Hlaudi Motsoeneng to pay back the money

SABC News: The SABC has welcomed a judgement by the High Court in Johannesburg ordering former SABC Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, to repay over R850 000 in legal fees.

UGANDA: A social media blackout persists in Uganda, weeks after the election

Global Voices: Uganda witnessed a total internet shut down on the afternoon of January 13, 2021, on the eve of its presidential election.

UGANDA: From internet shutdown to VPN showdown, govt is on a warpath

The East African: Ahead of the January 14 election, Uganda shuttered the Internet, lifting them after almost five days.

REGIONAL: WAN-IFRA Announces New Media Freedom Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa (Press release)

WAN-IFRA: WAN-IFRA announces a new DKK 6.5M ($1M) partnership with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support media freedom in nine countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

REGIONAL & CHINA: Experts warn of China’s growing media influence in Africa 

Deutsche Welle: China is rapidly accelerating its presence in Africa’s media landscape, with the state-run Xinhua News Agency boasting the largest correspondent network on the continent. Is Africa’s free press at risk?

HONG KONG: Hong Kong regulator rules that public broadcaster RTHK insulted police in satirical show 

HKFP: The Communications Authority has ruled that a satirical programme by public broadcaster RTHK insulted and denigrated the police force, and has “strongly advised” the station to follow broadcasting regulations more closely.

HONG KONG: RTHK staff protest over Nabela Qoser saga

RTHK: More than 60 RTHK employees gathered outside the station’s headquarters on Thursday to protest against the treatment of well-known reporter Nabela Qoser, who has been stripped of her civil service contract.

JAPAN: Japan TV news anchors wearing masks on camera ignites discussion

The Mainchi: The use of masks for television personalities on camera is recently garnering debate among the public and entertainment industry in Japan after news anchors on a major broadcaster began wearing them during a program.

JAPAN: NHK to cut managerial head count by 30%

The Japan Times: NHK plans to cut the number of employees in managerial positions by 30%, it was learned Friday.

INDIA: Farmer protests: India blocks prominent Twitter accounts, detains journalists 

DW: Twitter temporarily blocked several accounts within India at the Delhi government’s request. This included accounts of an independent news magazine and Kisan Ekta Morcha, a joint front that represents protesting farmers.

INDIA: Prasar Bharati CEO’s Twitter Handle Among Accounts Suspended

NDTV: Shashi Shekhar Vempati’s account was “withheld” inadvertently by Twitter, government sources said, amid a purge of accounts found using an objectionable hashtag.

MYANMAR: Internet, TV and radio disrupted in Myanmar after apparent military coup

The Jakarta Post: Myanmar’s state broadcaster said Monday it has been unable to provide regular broadcasts on TV or radio, in what could be a sign that the military is disrupting airwaves.

PAKISTAN: 10 journalists killed, several arrested last year: CPNE 

Dawn: At least 10 Pakistani journalists were murdered and several others threatened, kidnapped, tortured and arrested on trumped-up charges while discharging their professional responsibilities last year, said a report on media freedom in the country on Sunday.

PAKISTAN: Jang Group editor, two others indicted in land case

Dawn: An accountability court on Thursday indicted Jang group editor-in-chief Mir Shakilur Rehman and two others in a reference pertaining to a 34-year-old “illegal” land allotment in his favour, allegedly manipulated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan to ‘review’ controversial internet censorship rules

Al Jazeera: Pakistan’s government says it will review new internet regulations that rights groups have decried as a draconian measure to limit freedom of speech and increase internet surveillance.

PAKISTAN: Proposed Pakistan Law Seeks Greater Control of Media

HRW: As part of its crackdown on freedom of expression, the Pakistani government is seeking sweeping new powers to control the media. Journalists across Pakistan have raised the alarm about proposed legislation that would augment the powers of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and allow it to access human resources data at independent  media houses.

SOUTH KOREA: Submission fee adjustment proposal proposed by KBS board of directors (Press release – Korean)

KBS: The KBS board of directors held a regular board meeting on the 27th and proposed an adjustment plan for TV broadcasting subscription fees submitted by KBS management. 

THAILAND: Meet Thai PBS Virtual 360 STUDIO. Visit a virtual news studio (News release – Thai)

Thai PBS: Thai PBS has launched a visiting service in a new channel, “Thai PBS Virtual 360 STUDIO”, inviting everyone to experience the experience of visiting the Thai PBS news studio in an online format in depth behind the news work process.

AUSTRALIA: Anita Jacoby, Peter Tonagh among ABC board considerations

Sydney Morning Herald: Two well-known media identities are among the candidates being considered for the ABC’s board.

AUSTRALIA: Businessman Chau Chak Wing awarded $590,000 in defamation case against ABC

ABC News: Chinese-Australian businessman Chau Chak Wing has been awarded $590,000 after a judge found he was defamed by an ABC program that portrayed him as a Communist Party member.

AUSTRALIA: In-house research that drives audience engagement: Free webinar this week (Event)

Asia Radio Today: Australia’s national broadcaster has been successful in increasing audience engagement with in-houses research. The ABC’s International Insights Lead Samantha Hodgson will share tips for increasing your audience, even when money is tight, in an ABU webinar this Wednesday 3rd February.

AUSTRALIA: Screen Australia and SBS bring Digital Originals initiative back in 2021 (Media release – Opportunity)

SBS Australia: Screen Australia and SBS are excited to announce the Digital Originals initiative is returning in 2021, with applications now open. Digital Originals is a joint initiative of Screen Australia and SBS, aimed at developing exciting and innovative drama projects to premiere on SBS On Demand and NITV, from screen creatives who are currently under-represented in the sector.

AUSTRALIA: Statement from the ABC and Nine on today’s Federal Court decision

ABC Australia: The ABC and Nine are deeply disappointed by today’s judgment by Justice Rares in the Federal Court and believe it will have a further chilling effect on media freedom in this country.

NEW ZEALAND: Big campaign underway to stop Covid-19 vaccine misinformation (Listen)

RNZ: Social media influencers and community leaders will be among those used to spread information about Covid-19 vaccines.

NEW ZEALAND: Rātana keeps politicians and press at bay (Listen)

RNZ: The celebrations at Rātana in January are often described by media as the event that kicks off the political year because party leaders, Māori politicians and the media are among the manuhiri. This year far fewer guests were invited – including mainstream media journalists – and coverage was scant. But one former reporter tells Mediawatch it may be no bad thing.

AUSTRIA: Interior minister relies on media contact officers for demos (German)

Heute: From now on, police media contact officers will be deployed throughout Austria for demos. They are supposed to support journalists with the security police.

BELARUS: Belarus Media Crackdown Intensifies, Rights Groups Say 

VOA: The Belarusian government is escalating its clampdown on the media that began after Alexander Lukashenko won a disputed presidential election in August, according to two news freedom rights groups.

BELGIUM: Karen Donders becomes director of Public Assignment at the VRT (Dutch)

VRT: As a public broadcaster, the VRT has a unique function in the media landscape, and to clarify and strengthen that role, the VRT has appointed Karen Donders as the new director of the Public Assignment. 

FINLAND: 100 years of public service: Public service is a partnership, but with whom? (Opinion – Finnish)

Yle: As a large public actor, Yle has a responsibility to be the guarantor of the vitality and development of the media industry – it benefits the entire Finnish creative industry. But there is an even greater obligation to be a partner of the civilized capital of citizens and civil society.

FRANCE: Deputies defend France 4, yet doomed to disappear (French)

Le Monde: A “flash mission” carried out for the Cultural Affairs Committee of the National Assembly praises the model and place of the France Televisions youth channel, which is due to end on August 21.

FRANCE: Kick-off of Culturebox, the France Televisions channel dedicated to performing arts: the program (French)

France TV Info: Monday February 1, France Télévisions launches Culturebox, the ephemeral channel dedicated to all the arts: concerts, plays, ballets, humor, documentaries … Daphné Bürki and Raphäl Yem will host a daily meeting at 8:15 pm.

GERMANY: NDR cancels planned salary increases (German)

Süddeutsche Zeitung: Because of the failure to increase the radio license fee by 86 cents, the North German Broadcasting Corporation (NDR) is canceling a planned wage increase. At the request of the German Press Agency, the public broadcaster announced on Thursday that it was exercising a special right of termination for the third stage of the collective wage agreement.

GERMANY: ZDF with the best January market share since 1995 (Press release – German) 

ZDF: In January 2021, ZDF achieved a market share of 15.1 percent. This means that ZDF is still the most watched TV broadcaster ahead of ARD with a market share of 13.0 percent and RTL in third place with 7.5 percent. It is the highest market share for ZDF in a January since 1995 – at that time the value was 15.9 percent.

MALTA: “Still 25 active law cases against Daphne” – MFRR

Newsbook: Maltese investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated three years ago, yet there remain 25 active cases against her in Maltese courts, said Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR).

MALTA: TV presenter Pablo Micallef made PBS director 

Times of Malta: TV presenter Pablo Micallef has been appointed a director on the board of the Public Broadcasting Services.

NETHERLANDS: Despite discussion about fake news: the growing majority do trust journalism (Dutch)

NOS: Despite the discussion about fake news, a large part of the population maintains confidence in news reporting. That confidence has even increased in the past year.

NETHERLANDS: Dutch journalists face hostile environment while covering curfew riots

Deutsche Welle: Dutch Justice Minister condemned the violence against journalists during last days curfew riots in the Netherlands. DW spoke to public broadcaster NOS.

POLAND: Media body asks PM to ensure journalists’ safety during demonstrations

The First News: The head of Poland’s National Media Council has asked the prime minister take urgent action to ensure the safety of journalists covering street protests as well protecting their editorial offices and equipment.`

POLAND: TVP plans to launch three new channels. The first one will start in March (Polish) 

Media2: Telewizja Polska has serious plans to expand its portfolio of thematic channels. There are plans to launch as many as three new TV stations. 

RUSSIA: Russian Authorities Put A Target On Journalists As Opposition Protests Continue

RFE/RL: On the eve of a second wave of national mass protests in support of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, Russian police detained Sergei Smirnov, editor in chief of the independent news outlet Mediazona, outside his Moscow home as he left to take a walk with his small son.

SLOVENIA: New director appointed at public broadcaster (Paywall)

STA: The programming council of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija has appointed Andrej Grah Whatmough the new director general. Currently the chair of the broadcaster’s supervisory board, he will succeed Igor Kadunc, who was eliminated in the first round of voting.

SPAIN: Press freedom in Spain in 2020: Coronavirus and five years of the ‘gag laws’ 

IPI: 2020 has been, once again, a bad year for freedom of information in Spain: not only has there been no relevant legislative progress, despite the change of government, but serious incidents have also occurred.

UK: Channel 4 reconfigures Exec responsibilities to deliver new Future4 strategy (News release)

Channel 4: Channel 4 has today updated its staff on a reorganisation of its Executive team responsibilities to ensure the business is set up to deliver its Future4 strategy, which was launched in November.

UK: Johnson poised to appoint Paul Dacre chair of Ofcom

The Guardian: PM’s choice of controversial former Mail editor is part of his election promise to radically overhaul the BBC. 

UK: Ofcom consults on PSBs and indie production 

Advanced Television: UK broadcast regulator Ofcom is inviting evidence on the relationship between public service broadcasters (PSBs) and the independent TV production sector.

UK: UK broadcasters in talks to develop joint streaming app (Paywall)

Telecompaper: UK broadcasters ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and the BBC are in talks to develop a new joint, streaming app to aggregate their live broadcasts and catch-up programmes in one place, reports The Telegraph.

UKRAINE: Funding Journalism in Ukraine: Ask the Oligarchs (Report)

CMDS: Four large players dominate the media market in Ukraine, a country where television is the main source of news. Independent journalism is still alive and kicking but struggles to achieve real impact.

REGIONAL: 10 public service broadcasters join EBU initiative to give audiences access to trusted news from across Europe 


REGIONAL: New shrink podcast from SR P3 – that’s why we listen to podcasts (Swedish) 

Nordvision: A new report from DR’s media research predicts continued good times for the podcasts. The Nordic listeners are increasingly there. In Sweden, SR P3 is investing in a completely new crime podcast.

GENERAL: Force online platforms to carry public service media, says EBU chief (Paywall)

Financial Times: The president of Europe’s public service media alliance has called for “must-carry” rules for a digital age, which can save once-mighty national broadcasters from being overwhelmed by US streaming services and internet platforms.

BRAZIL: Violence against journalists grows 105.77% in 2020, with Jair Bolsonaro leading the attacks (Portuguese)

FENAJ: In the middle of the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, when Journalism was considered an essential activity in the country and in the world, and professionals went out of their way, often in precarious conditions, in search of responsible and quality information to contain the progress of the disease, Brazil recorded an explosion of cases of violence against journalists.

COLOMBIA: Participate in the development of the 2021 Anti-Corruption and Citizen Service Plan (Spanish)

RTVC Colombia: The  Planning Office of RTVC Public Media invites citizens to know the Anti-Corruption Plan and 2021 Citizen Care and strategies. 

CUBA: Cuban internet access cut amid free expression protest; journalist harassed 

CPJ: Cuban authorities should stop disrupting internet access in the country and allow journalists to cover protests freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

HAITI: Haitian Journalists Protest Police Brutality

VOA: Dozens of journalists, lawyers and former police officers held a peaceful march around Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, Thursday to denounce police brutality.

JAMAICA: PAJ to press for constitutional recognition of press freedom

The Gleaner: The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), yesterday, said it will be pressing to have press freedom constitutionally recognised in Jamaica.

JAMAICA: Powerful case for entrenched press freedom (Opinion)

The Gleaner

PERU: Peruvian media and United Nations in alliance to verify information during electoral campaign in native languages (Spanish)

Via IFEX: A new Peruvian media network will do fact-checking to combat false information during the electoral campaign for the April 11 general elections. 

REGIONAL: Researchers warn about lack of pluralism in Latin American media

LatAm Review: Greater pluralism of media and voices in public discourse is a crucial aspect of the quality of a democracy. But what exactly is pluralism within the Latin American context? 

IRAN: Iranian journalist tops ‘10 Most Urgent’ list of press freedom cases focused on elections and protests

The Boston Globe: The One Free Press Coalition, a united group of pre-eminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide, today issued its 24th “10 Most Urgent” list of press freedom cases around the world. This iteration focuses on elections and protests as a catalyst for violence against journalists.  

TURKEY: Turkey | Breaking the Silence | VOA Special Report (Watch)

VOA: How Turkey smothered press freedom — and made arresting its journalists a weapon. A documentary by Voice of America.

TURKEY: Turkish Broadcasters Under Pressure to Be on Same Wavelength as Ruling Party

VOA: Olay TV began broadcasting late last year with ambitions to become a mainstream national news channel in Turkey’s polarized media environment. But the channel lasted just 26 days before closing under what its editor said was government pressure.

REGIONAL: ITP Media Group and international media outlets partner with UN Women to advance women’s empowerment (Press release)

Zawya: The media has a significant role to play in increasing awareness of women’s leadership, and in challenging the dangerous social norms that condone gender-based discrimination or violence.

CANADA: CBC and Being Black In Canada recognize Black History Month

CBC News: CBC is celebrating BLACK HISTORY MONTH throughout February with a wide range of programming on all platforms featuring Black creators, storytellers and changemakers, curated and discoverable in one place on CBC’s BEING BLACK IN CANADA website.

CANADA: CBC responds to critics on last day of CRTC hearings to renew licence 

CBC News: The regulator will now weigh the evidence, a process which could take months. 

CANADA: Facebook calls on Canadian government to set social media rules

CBC News: Parliament should adopt legislation on what kinds of content should be allowed, Facebook director says. 

US: As some stations end HD Radio signals, others hold out hope for audience adoption (Paywall)

Current: Changes spurred by the pandemic have prompted two public broadcasters to scale back their use of HD Radio, the heavily promoted technology that never quite caught on despite its promises of better sound quality and new programming streams.

US: Inside PBS’ Digital Rebrand for the New Streaming Landscape (Paywall)

Wrap Pro

US: New Head of USAGM Renews Visas for VOA’s Foreign Journalists

VOA: The new acting head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media this week approved several J-1 visa applications for foreign journalists working for Voice of America, one of the networks it oversees. The applications are the first to be approved by the agency since June last year.  

US: PBS and Radicalmedia commission large-scale public art reflecting on what it means to be an american (Press Release)

PBS: PBS and RadicalMedia today announced the launch of an original public art initiative as part of the public broadcaster’s 50th anniversary crowdsourced storytelling project, PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT.

US: Stations struggle to recruit, train new generation of broadcast engineers (Paywall)


US: The United States Needs a BBC (Opinion)

Foreign Policy: The Beeb’s influence is rising stateside, revealing a hunger for nonpartisan news. America’s own networks should take note.

Covid-19 misinformation on Chinese social media offers lessons for countering conspiracy theories

Nieman Lab: Our research found that posts that came from influencers, as well as women without enormous numbers of followers, and that cited scientists or other scholars, received more likes, comments, retweets and hashtags.

In ‘Writing With Fire,’ Dalit women in India are the stars of the fight for free press (Opinion – Paywall)

Washington Post: A new documentary film following the courageous journalists behind India’s only all-female-run news organization provides an essential portrait of the fight for press freedom — and illustrates the lengths to which some reporters are willing to go to expose difficult truths in the face of incredible obstacles.

Media, Democratic Politics and Citizen Journalism (Opinion) 

Modern Diplomacy

NewsSpectrum Fellowships: Uniting minority- and majority-language media in Europe (Opportunity)

IPI: New IPI and MIDAS programme will grant €480,000 to collaborative reporting projects and professional fellowships involving minority-language media.

Our Journalist Fellowship Programme (Opportunity)

Reuters Institute: One week until deadline: The Journalist Fellowship Programme at the Reuters Institute is one of the world’s leading schemes for practising, mid-career journalists to take some time out from their day jobs to explore journalism in depth.

Radiodays Asia Virtual Programme Release

Radiodays Asia: Take a look at what you can expect at this year’s virtual conference. 

The audio revolution during the pandemic 

Radio Centre: Campaign’s inaugural Radio & Audio summit celebrated the power of audio and offered an in-depth look at the latest research, best practice and case studies – and it started at the very heart of the audio revolution, with a session from Radiocentre’s Client Director, Lucy Barrett.

The old news business model is broken: making Google and Facebook pay won’t save journalism (Opinion)

The Conversation

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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.

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Header image: Broadcast tower. Credit: pbkwee/Creative Commons

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