Firstly, very best wishes for 2021 from the PMA team to our members and colleagues worldwide. 

Ushering in a new year is a relief for many, an opportunity to imagine a fresh start, to say farewell to the stresses of the previous year and set a course for the next.

But 2020 cannot be simply brushed aside, and nor should it be. Neither will the legacy and impact of its events cease with the transition into 2021.

Last year was one like no other in recent memory. While the effects of the pandemic continue to wreak havoc on lives around the world, so too does its impact on free and independent press, whose role in any democracy should be to inform the public and hold power to account – a role that is critical during any crisis.

Yet globally, press freedom and journalist safety have taken a battering. COVID-19 has exacerbated and compounded many of the well-documented threats facing journalists – including being used as an excuse by some governments to double-down on media restrictions. It has also contributed to new pressures for those working in the field.

Whether it’s the ability to safely report on protests without fear of arbitrary arrest and exposure to the virus or combatting the considerable growth in dis- and misinformation, the challenges facing all independent, public and public interest media have rarely been greater.

2020 was unprecedented in so many negative ways but it was also a year that demonstrated the importance of public service media to society. The qualities and values of public media have put them centre stage in response to the pandemic. Many outlets quickly responded to provide additional educational resources as schools closed, and others rapidly innovated their multi-platform content to provide rolling, accurate and critical coverage of COVID-19. Many also became cultural hubs as access to physical resources and entertainment venues diminished, offering a space for shared experiences and reassurance.

The provision of such critical resources came despite mounting challenges and threats, with public media workers striving hard in very difficult circumstances to ensure that the values of public media are met. These challenges and the pandemic are far from over. From funding to fatigue and factchecking, 2021 might be a new year but the legacy of 2020 means that support and advocacy for press freedom and independent public media are needed more than ever.

PMA will be continuing to advocate for and promote public media worldwide in 2021. We have planned a number of new initiatives and campaigns and look forward to working with all of you to ensure that public media is recognised for its significant and important role in the lives of citizens everywhere.

We 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...

The War Against the BBC, Patrick Barwise

RISJ: Patrick Barwise is Emeritus Professor of Management and Marketing at London Business School. He has expertise in customer-focused strategy and execution, marketing leadership, brands, advertising, media, and broadcasting policy. He is the former chairman of Which?, the UK’s leading consumer organisation, and has held visiting posts in media and communication at the London School of Economics.

What we're reading...

An update on our Diversity and Inclusion initiatives

CBC/Radio-Canada: Our Ambition: To Accelerate Our Plans To Reflect Contemporary Canada.

Global Headlines

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

ALGERIA: Algeria: Journalist sentenced to years in prison amid growing media crackdown

IFJ: An Algerian court condemned journalist Abdelkrim Zeghileche to two years in prison over a Facebook post on August 24, but he was released from prison on 23 December to return directly to court for hearings in two other cases. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) deplored the ruling as a blatant attack against freedom of expression and expressed its grave concerns over the growing media crackdown in Algeria.

CAMEROON: In Cameroon, journalists can’t breathe as laws stifle press freedom

The East African: Although the preamble to Cameroon’s 1996 constitution guarantees both freedom of expression and of the press, libel and slander remain both civil and criminal offences.

GHANA: Election 2020 provides opportunity for Ghana to re-think how to sustainably fund GBC – Prof. Amin Alhassan

GBC News: Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Prof. Amin Alhassan, says the 2020 General Election provides an opportunity for Ghana, to deliberate on sustainable financing of the Public Service Broadcaster.

MALAWI: MBC suspends 2 managers Khonyongwa, Chapita indefinitely over Chilima insults

Nyasa Times: Public broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has indefinitely suspended its director of news Vincent Khonyongwa and controller of news Greyson Chapita over gross negligence for airing obscene content to disparage the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima.

NAMIBIA: NBC clarifies performance bonus payment (Watch)

NBC: The NBC has again clarified the payment of performance bonuses to staff members who fall under the Total Cost to Company (TCTC) category, saying it is the first time in five years this group of employees have received this payment, which forms part of their contractual obligations.

NAMIBIA: NBC restores service

The Namibian: The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) today said it has restored connectivity to all its radio and TV stations after a technical failure caused by water leakage at their main studios.

NIGERIA: Concern As 4 Out of 30 Journalists Killed in 2020 Are Nigerians

Via All Africa: The number of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work more than doubled in 2020, as criminal gangs and militant groups targeted reporters working in violent but democratic nations.

SOMALIA: Somali journalists launch campaign to promote peaceful elections

KBC News: The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has today launched a campaign to combat hate speech and promote peaceful elections in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary polls.

SOUTH AFRICA: BEMAWU unhappy with SABC’s conduct during extended consultation process

SABC News: The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (BEMAWU) is again crying foul over the manner in which the SABC has been conducting the extended consultation process on its plans to retrench up to 400 permanent staff as part of its restructuring.

SOUTH AFRICA: SABC Education launches 2020 matric results services

SABC News: SABC Education in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in “Enriching Minds, Enriching Lives” is launching its Matric Results service, which will run from 31 December 2020 until 29 February 2021.

UGANDA: Ugandan journalists paying price of police brutality against campaigning politicians

Daily Monitor: On December 27, Mr Saif-llah Ashraf Kasirye, a Radio One journalist and an online Ghetto TV cameraman was rushed to Masaka Hospital in critical condition after he was allegedly shot in the chaos that ensued as police tried to disperse supporters of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, in Masaka District. 

REGIONAL: 2020 was a hazardous year for African journalists marked by killings, harassment, arrests, Covid

RFI: The year 2020 has proven to be a dangerous year for African journalists, some of whom were killed on assignment while others were killed in custody. Others were harassed while working, arrested while working, or stricken by Covid-19. The month of December was especially dangerous.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan journalists decry lack of protection against attacks

Arab News: Afghan media workers on Saturday called on the government for more protection, a day after a sixth journalist was killed in the country in less than two months.

CHINA: China: Citizen journalist Zhang Zhan jailed for four years over reporting on pandemic

IFJ: Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who covered the coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan earlier this year, was convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on December 28 and sentenced to four years in prison.

CHINA: Press Freedom in China (Watch)

VOA Zimbabwe: Press Freedom China: In a year of declining press freedom amid the global pandemic, China took the lead in media repression. VOA’s press freedom editor Jessica Jerreat has more.

HONG KONG: Hong Kong journalism watchdog says officials could evade questions after Covid-19 press cons replaced with online event

HKFP: Daily in-person press briefings given by government departments on the Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong will be replaced by an online video conference starting Monday. Members of the press will have to submit questions in writing, authorities have announced.

HONG KONG: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai ordered back to jail

BBC: Hong Kong pro-democracy mogul Jimmy Lai has been ordered back to prison after the city’s highest court ruled a judge may have erred in granting him bail.

INDIA: A robust public broadcaster can guard against anti-vaccine rumours (Column)

Hindustan Times: There seems no reason to doubt that a large number of Indians are, to say the least, undiscriminating in the source of news they chose to watch. This will make them liable to fall prey to false information which can undermine the vaccination campaign.

PAKISTAN: Pakistani media faced unique challenges in 2020

Pakistan Press Foundation: In 2020 Pakistani media was confronted with the unique new challenges both in terms of content to cover as well as in the nature of the measures to restrict press freedom and the free flow of information in the country. 

PAKISTAN: PTV MD rejects charges

Pakistan Press Foundation: Managing Director of Pakistan Television Corporation, Aamer Manzoor, on Friday firmly rejected the charges placed against him by the newly constituted PTV Board of Directors under the direction of PTV Chairman Naeem Bokhari.

SOUTH KOREA: Koreans’ trust in news media sinks amid pandemic

The Korea Times: The year 2020, throughout which residents in Korea were inundated with daily updates about the changing number of COVID-19 cases, was a period of uncertainty and confusion.

THAILAND: Thai PBS opened the “Learning Space for Kids” learning space to welcome the National Children’s Day online (Press release – Thai)

Thai PBS: Thai PBS organizes an activity to welcome the National Children’s Day in 2021. “Thai PBS Kids Day” opens a learning area to encourage the participation of children and young people 24 hours a day through online channels. 

REGIONAL: COVID-19 pandemic severely undermined press freedom in South Asia

IPI: Over 100 cases of violations reported from the region.

AUSTRALIA: ‘Australians shouldn’t be forking out twice’: ABC pays Foxtel up to $35,000 for each Matildas match

The Sydney Morning Herald: The ABC paid News Corp’s Foxtel up to $35,000 for each Matildas match aired by the taxpayer-funded broadcaster last financial year, prompting criticism that the pay-TV network was double-dipping into the public purse.

AUSTRALIA:  ‘Lived experience’: finally, a disability reporter who has a disability

The Guardian: Nas Campanella says her blindness brings empathy to the job. The ABC hopes its diversity push makes the stories better too.

AUSTRALIA: SBS launches ‘Summer Safety’ resource in over thirty languages

SBS: SBS has launched a new ‘Summer Safety’ resource targeted especially at culturally and linguistically diverse Australians. The website offers expert information on summer dangers from bushfire and flood preparedness to staying sun-safe and water-safe in Australia

NEW ZEALAND: A student documentary about women’s rugby and the media (Listen)

RNZ: Research on the media’s coverage or inclusion of women can make for concerning reading, especially when it comes to sports. When looking at the media in general, there are many studies that show a marked disparity in things like the gender balance of leading & supporting roles, the age range of male & female news anchors, or the hours devoted to different sporting codes and competitions.

BELARUS: Belarus charges independent journalists with tax evasion

DW: Four independent journalists who have been critical of President Alexander Lukashenko face seven years in prison on charges of “large-scale tax evasion.” Journalists have been detained 477 times this year in Belarus.

ESTONIA: Strong newspaper traditions and trust advance digital subscriptions in Estonia

IPI: Take the chance and offer value to readers, Estonian experience says.

GEORGIA: Your Audio Space, GPB launches new project (Press release)

GPB: Georgian Public Broadcaster has launched a new project on Monday. The current trends in the global radio market and the EBU recommendations have served as the basis for creating Your Audio Space. is already available on the web platform. Your Audio Space is an ad-free media.

FRANCE: At France Télévisions, an editorial shift in small steps (French – Paywall)

Le Monde: At France Télévisions, the time has come to transform the editorial promises of Delphine Ernotte, its president, into recurring programs.

GERMANY: “A definite setback” (German)

Deutschlandfunk: ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio failed with their urgent application to increase the radio license fee in January before the Federal Constitutional Court. 

ICELAND: Emphasis on education in a new service agreement with the RÚV (Press release – Icelandic)  

RÚV: The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture has entered into a new service agreement with Ríkisútvarpið ohf. which was signed today. According to the agreement, increased emphasis will be placed on the educational role of Ríkisútvarpið and cultivation of the Icelandic language.

IRELAND: RTÉ says it’s striving to improve Player amid complaints about ‘frustrating’ and ‘ridiculous’ service

The Journal: RTÉ has said it constantly strives to improve the user experience of its online Player service amid complaints about the service not working properly.

LATVIA: Public media exits the advertising market

LSM: Public service media – Latvian Television, Latvian Radio and the web portal of which the English-language service you are now reading, have now left the commercial advertising market.

NORTH MACEDONIA: North Macedonia Media: From Glitzy Beginnings to Asset Auctions

Balkan Insight: The life-span of some North Macedonia media outlets has been remarkably short, opened with much fanfare only to quickly close in bankruptcy.

POLAND: Poland’s Government Tightens Its Control Over Media

NPR: Journalist Mariusz Kowalewski noticed something was amiss when his editors came to him with a new assignment: follow an outspoken critic of Poland’s ruling party with a drone.

SLOVENIA: STA is expected to receive the money this week (Slovenian) 

Delo: We have not yet received the unpaid amount of compensation for performing public service in 2020, explained STA director Bojan Veselinovič yesterday. 

SPAIN: Spanish regional daily focuses on network-building to keep local journalism strong 

IPI: How Heraldo de Aragón is using technology developed in-house to help connect and support local media outlets.

SWITZERLAND: Switzerland to pull plug on FM radio by 2023 The radio industry has reached an agreement on turning off its analogue FM transmitters, with the public broadcaster expected to make the definitive switch to digital in mid-2022. Private radio stations will follow suit by January 2023.

UK: BBC secures continued European distribution despite Brexit

Broadband TV News: The BBC has secured continued European distribution for its domestic and international channels thanks to commercial licences in The Netherlands and Luxembourg.

UK: BBC staff declare extra paid-for work from 1 January 

BBC: News presenters and senior staff at the BBC will sign up to a new external engagements register from today (1 January), as the broadcaster continues its renewed drive on impartiality.

UK: Channel 4’s CMO on building an alternative broadcast brand fit for the digital age

The Drum: Channel 4’s chief marketing officer Zaid Al-Qassab is on a mission to build an alternative broadcast brand fit for the digital age. Today he explains the role of the media giant’s in-house agency 4Creative in helping attract new audiences who aren’t necessarily available on linear TV.

UK: Professional BBC bashers are acting against the public interest (Opinion) 

iNews: A new book examines the growing ranks of Beeb-bashers.

REGIONAL: Digital terrestrial radio must for all new car radios in EU

Asia Radio Today: From this week, people purchasing new passenger vehicles across Europe will be able to benefit from the advantages of digital radio – greater choice, clearer audio and enhanced data services.

REGIONAL: Erdoğan’s censorship now targeting media outlets in Europe: report

Stockholm Centre for Freedom: According to social media expert Yasin Kesen, Erdoğan is now resorting to fraudulent methods in an attempt to extend his crackdown on freedom of expression beyond Turkey’s borders and into the European Union, a dangerous trend.

REGIONAL: Nordvision is planning for a collaborative spring online (Swedish)

Nordvision: With a raging pandemic, Nordvision rescheduled its extensive Nordic co-operation in 2020. Group meetings, seminars and expert meetings were arranged online. When the pieces of the puzzle are now laid for the spring of 2021, it is based on the fact that the collaboration mainly takes place online.

BRAZIL: Entities join efforts and launch independent ombudsman for EBC

The Front for the Defense of EBC and Public Broadcasting: The move aims to restore the social role stripped from public broadcasting and cast light on contents published and syndicated by EBC.

BRAZIL: Press freedom is the basis of democracy (Portuguese)

FENAJ: The Union of Professional Journalists in the State of São Paulo and the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ) are following the escalation of judicial attacks against journalists with concern, a fact that undermines press freedom. 

CHILE: The right to communication in Chile (Comment – Spanish)

La Vanguardia: Faced with the new Constitution, various Chilean organizations, such as the College of Journalists, have come together to demand a media law that deconcentrates and promotes pluralism

JAMAICA: RJRGleaner chairman says he will never again endorse a politician

Loop Jamaica: A decision in October by the chairman of the RJRGleaner Group Joseph M Matalon, to endorse his friend and business colleague Mark Golding for the presidency of the People’s National Party (PNP) has led the board of the media company to update its corporate governance guidelines which now restrict political affiliation for directors.

MEXICO: International reporting project publishes five reports linking journalist deaths to drug cartel violence in Mexico

Knight Center: With the publication of “The Cartel Project,” the message for enemies of the free press is that, if they kill a journalist, “there are 20, 30, 40 of us who are going to resume their investigations.”

NICARAGUA: Nicaragua: Freedom of Speech & Press under Siege (Feature)

Havana Times: The law is a threat to freedom of the press. It criminalizes investigative journalism and gives a green light to surveillance of private communications.

IRAQ: Report: 300 violations against journalists, media groups in Iraq during 2020

Middle East Monitor: Some 305 violations against journalists and media organisations have been documented in 2020, the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq said yesterday.

JORDAN: Jordanian journalists call for ‘e-protest’ against journalist imprisonments

Roya News: Sunday, Jordanian journalists have called for individuals to participate in an ‘electronic protest’ Sunday evening to refuse and condemn the imprisonment of journalists…

TURKEY: Bleak outlook for Turkish media in 2021

Arab News: The new year brought a new wave of censorship for Turkish media, signaling tough days ahead for independent journalism in the country.

TURKEY: New independent Turkish TV channel shuts down after less than a month

Arab News: An independent TV channel in Turkey that opened 26 days ago shut down abruptly on Friday evening, allegedly under pressure from government circles.

YEMEN: Yemen: BelqeesTV correspondent killed in attack at Aden Airport

IFJ: A TV journalist was killed in a missile attack on Aden Airport on 30 December. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) condemn the attack and demand the opening of an investigation into the killing and all other deaths and rights violations affecting journalists and the media sector.

CANADA: Canadian film, TV producers urge Ottawa to change streaming regulations (Paywall)

The Globe and Mail: Canadian film and TV producers are urging the federal government to change regulations to make it easier for them to retain the ownership of their intellectual property when they sell shows to foreign streamers such as Netflix. 

CANADA: From Yukon to Finland: CBC’s radio signal heard from afar

CBC News: Host Elyn Jones heard saying ‘this is Yukon Morning,’ about 7,000 kilometres away.

US: CPB receives FY23 raise, denied emergency relief (Paywall)

Current: The Senate passed an appropriations bill, tax cuts and an economic relief package Monday that includes a $10 million increase in CPB’s funding for fiscal year 2023.

US: CPB Statement on Funding Decisions by the United States Congress (Press Release)

CPB: Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), made the following statement regarding the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, passing the House and Senate

US: Journalism got more dangerous in 2020 — including in the United States (Paywall)

The Washington Post: Journalism is becoming a steadily more dangerous profession around the world, including in the United States. The year 2020, with its global pandemic and widespread social unrest, continued the trend. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual survey, more journalists were in prison on Dec. 1 — 274 — than in any previous year.

US: Teachers on TV? Schools Try Creative Strategy to Narrow Digital Divide

The New York Times: It’s another way to reach students without internet or computers during the pandemic.

US: The role of local news in covering Trump’s endgame


US: Trump Appointee Seeks Lasting Control Over Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia

NPR: Michael Pack’s stormy tenure over the federal agency that oversees government-funded broadcasters abroad — including Voice of America — appears to be coming to a close. Yet President Trump’s appointee has sparked an internal outcry by taking bold steps to try to cement his control over at least two of the networks and shape the course of their journalism well into the Biden administration.

US: Vision Maker Media Announces Open Call for 2021 Public Media Project Proposals (Opportunity)

Cision: Today, Vision Maker Media (VMM) announced an open call for 2021 public media broadcast proposals. The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. CST on Friday, February 12, 2021. Project awards will be announced in spring 2021.

10 things public media should forget and consider in 2021 (Opinion)

Current: As I scan public media, I find myself asking: Will public media emerge stronger from the pandemic? It’s too early to answer that question, but this is a perfect moment for self-examination.

How Press Freedom Came Under Attack in 2020

Foreign Policy: Citizens hungry for information turned to the media during the pandemic, but governments around the world used the crisis to restrict journalists.

NordMedia 2021: Call for abstracts open (Opportunity)

Nordicom: The NordMedia 2021 conference call for abstracts is now out and will open for submissions in January 2021. The biannual conference will take place 18 – 20 August 2021 at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík. The theme of NordMedia21 is Crisis and resilience: Nordic media research on the frontline. A pre-conference for PhD-students takes place on 17 August, the day before the main conference.

Seven free tools for journalists to try in 2021 (Watch) Upgrade your editing arsenal and organise your schedule at no extra cost with this round-up of mobile apps and online resources.

The journalists and colleagues we’ve lost to the coronavirus

Poynter: A collection of obituaries on the media professionals who lost their lives to the coronavirus pandemic.

#TrustInMediaSEE: Guidelines for inclusive media reporting on Covid-19 (Report)

EFJ: A new report titled “Guidelines for inclusive media reporting on Covid-19” was published on 14 December.[…] The report aims to complement existing ethical frameworks in relation to journalistic reporting on minority groups and to raise awareness among journalists about mis- and underrepresentation in the media…

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