The Public Service Broadcasting model can be truly effective if it has sound legal foundation. Without it, Public Service Broadcasting will compromise, if not ignore, some of the key principles that are critical to its mission of being of service to all citizens.
1. That solid legal foundation begins with legislation on the creation of a public service broadcasting model that covers all its key principles. It should define its mandate, objectives, and authority. It should stipulate the organisation of the Governing Body and the Executive Body with their corresponding responsibility, powers, remuneration, and terms of office. It should provide for a timetable to review public service broadcasting to address the changing media landscape and audience's preferences.
2. Legislation must guarantee its independence, 1 including those of the oversight bodies to ensure that their status and membership are clearly defined to avoid any risk of political and other interference.
3. Legislation should be drawn up in such a way that it should be easy to understand and the language should be precise and consistent.
4. Law should establish an independent broadcasting regulatory authority that will promote the development of the widest possible range of broadcasting including public, commercial and community broadcasting.
5. There is a need to create a legal climate conducive to freedom of expression and a favourable economic climate for public service broadcasting to grow and prosper. 2
6. Laws that allow for monopolies and all forms of unfair discrimination in broadcasting should be repealed.
For all Citizens
1. To ensure access to all citizens including those in the rural and less developed areas, legal and administrative measures should be put in place to support cost-efficient technologies including satellite and terrestrial communication infrastructure.
2. PSBs should be mandated to explore new platforms and technologies so as to deliver content to audiences more effectively.
3. Regulations should encourage the promotion of media education and media literacy initiatives.
Public Service Broadcasting reflects diversity
1. Laws should encourage diversity in the hiring of employees at the top, middle and lower echelons of the organisational structure.
2. Laws should promote diversity in content and format of broadcasting output, providing a plurality of opinions and an informed public.
3. The diversity referred above should only be promoted without jeopardizing the mandate of public service broadcasting.
Public Service Broadcasting offers quality content
1. Laws should allow for broadcast of all kinds of interests in a variety of programme formats that interest a variety of audiences, to include informational, educational, and cultural and entertainment programming.
2. Laws should encourage appropriate funding and other incentives to producers of quality public service programmes. One possibility may be to introduce a small tax based on a percentage of advertising budgets of media companies, which can then be used for public service programme production on a competitive basis.
Public Service Broadcasting practices editorial independence
1. Law should guarantee editorial independence. 3
2. The right to information is a prerequisite for the healthy functioning of Public Service Broadcasting.
3. The legal environment must ensure that any laws, which conflict with the citizens' right to free expression and information, must be repealed.
Public Service Broadcasting should be financially independent
1. Depending on local conditions, legislation should stipulate a mix of funding to ensure financial autonomy and a healthy functioning of the Public Service Broadcasting regime. This may include licence fees, government grants, advertising revenue, contractual and partnership revenue, and charitable donations.
2. Legislation should insulate Public Service Broadcasting from political and commercial pressure.
3. Laws should be passed to grant public service broadcasters authority to seek sources of funding other than those stipulated in paragrapgh #1 above.
4. Legislation should encourage tax exemptions for public service broadcasters in the importation of equipment and materials, whether purchased from or donated by any foreign government and/or private entity
Public Service Broadcasting demands creative and professional human resources
1. Legislation should authorise the Board and the Executive Body of public service broadcasters to make rules concerning the hiring, appointment, employment, promotion, disciplinary control and other terms and conditions of service of all employed, consultants and other personnel.
2. Legislation should define the criteria for selecting the higher echelons of Public Service Broadcasting, and these should favour executives and board members who understand the potential of broadcasting, share the ethos of Public Service Broadcasting and care about the importance of creative work.
Public Service Broadcasting adheres to strong accountability practices
1. Legislation should impose effective financial controls on public service broadcasters to ensure that the flow of funds reflects the strategy and direction of Public Service Broadcasting.
2. Legislation should establish a mechanism for responding to complaints about violations of the Public Service Broadcasting mandate and/or the rights of the listeners/ viewers. Those manning such mechanism should be appointed in a manner, which ensure independence from government and political parties.
3. Laws and regulations should encourage the creation of citizens' media groups that monitor the performance of Public Service Broadcasting as mandated and foster a constructive dialogue between media and citizens.
4. Strong adherence to self-regulation, which upholds respect for the truth, the public's right to information, and the journalists' accountability to use their power responsibly to inform citizens, promote democracy and scrutinize power, should be promoted.
Public Service Broadcasting cultivates strategic partnerships and collaboration
1. Legislation should allow public service broadcasters to make rules consistent with the principle of building strategic partnerships and collaboration.
2. Regard should be had for greater cooperation between regulatory policymakers within individual countries. International regulation becomes more keenly felt in the coming years given the fact that many of the new technologies employed in broadcasting, whether public service or commercial -are such that their effects cannot realistically be confined within national boundaries. Cooperation should also entail due deference by regulatory policy in individual countries to global and regional bodies.4
1In-country Seminar on Legal, Financial &Administrative Aspects of PSB,AIBD, Bangkok,Thailand, June 28-29, 2001.
2,3 SAARC Sub-regional Conference on PSB,AIBD, (2000) Colombo, Sri Lanka: August 21-23, 2000.
4 I. Banerjee, K. Seneviratne (eds.), (2006) Public Service Broadcasting in the Age of Globalization,AMIC & Nanyang Technological University