Transition from State Broadcaster to Public Service Broadcaster

The transition from state broadcaster to public service broadcaster must be based on a clear distinction between these two models1. A necessary pre-condition to ensuring an effective transition is legislation' that articulates thisdistinction as well as the principles, objectives and parameters of management and operation of Public Service Broadcasting. The transition is a complex and difficult process that must take into consideration the socio-economic and political conditions in a particular country. If handled effectively, it can generate numerous advantages to the state broadcasters.What are these advantages?

1. Soften the impact of any sudden shift to Public Service Broadcasting, as it considers the prevailing political and socio-economic conditions and the changing media landscape in a particular country. This will afford those who resist a window of opportunity to understand and accept the change.

2. Help reflect and generate democratic legitimacy, thereby ridding state broadcasters of the perception as the mouthpiece of the government and enhancing its credibility in the multimedia platform world.

3. Generate efficiency gains. The transition will reduce government expenditure on the state broadcaster. It will bring about more productive use of public money.

4. Contribute to a greater sense of public ownership. The public may be more willing to contribute to the funding of the PSB, thus lessening the financial burden of the government.

5. Increase government's credibility locally and internationally. It will be perceived as sincere in supporting a PSB that adheres to the principles of plurality, diversity and democracy.

6. Pave the way for more meaningful social dialogues and may bring about greater social cohesion.

7. Allow for expanding content production, relieving broadcasters from the constraint of state broadcasting bureaucracy.

8. Put in place mechanisms to gainfully employ young talents such as graduates of mass communication programmes.

9. Facilitate the promotion of local and national cultural values

10. Ensure the inclusion of all segments of society including the marginalized and underprivileged.

11. Help the government establish good governance, strengthen democracy, and promote socio-economic development activities.

12. Enable the PSB to respond to early warning conflicts and inequality situations for redress, thereby reducing social violence.

13. Pave the way for a stronger local cultural content, thereby countering the negative influences of the global media and of the excessive media commercialization.

14. Provide a pathway to greater public accountability and transparency in the broadcast media.

15. Open windows of opportunity for people's participation in developmental activities.

16. Set up mechanisms for higher broadcasting standards that may serve as benchmarks in improving the standards of other media outlets.

17. Improve the morale of the employees of state broadcasting.

 

Facilitate Legislation
PSB advocates should pursue the establishment of a solid legislation and minimise if not avoid disruptions and variations that may impact upon the true mandate of Public Service Broadcasting.

1. Advocates of Public Service Broadcasting in Parliament/ Congress should be identified to push legislation and persuade non-supporters.

2. A parliamentary study group may be set-up to come up with a feasibility study prior to crafting a Public Service Broadcasting bill. It should describe the appropriate features and parameters of Public Service Broadcasting. The study should also include an environmental scan of existing broadcast stations, their products and services, and their competitive edge. It should list strategies to address issues on programming, management, engineering, new media, financial autonomy and editorial independence.

3. A communication plan should be designed to persuade non-supporters in Parliament/Congress to support Public Service Broadcasting. The plan may include showing sample programmes that adhere to the principles of PSB.

4. Multiple media should get involved in raising awareness and understanding on PSB to help bring a sense of urgency for Parliament/Congress to act on the legislation on PSB.

5. Public meetings among various stakeholders should be undertaken to determine interest in Public Service Broadcasting, their needs and expectations.

Backed by PSB legislation, the Governing Board to be created will initiate the transition. Following are some steps, which may be undertaken simultaneously to effect a smooth transition.

 

Adhere to the Guiding Principles

1. All those involved should promote the transition. Collective cooperation and collaboration is critical for an effective transition.

2. The terms and conditions for the transition should be made clear. They should be respected and all those to be affected should be treated and/or compensated fairly.

3. The transition should be conducted with efficiency, consistency and transparency.

4. The transition should not stop existing operations, but should be implemented in phases.

 

Identify Responsible Groups and Scope of Responsibility

1. The Governing Board organises a Transition Team that includes key officials of the state broadcasting network and representatives of various committed stakeholders.

2. The members of the Transition Team may include the CEO of the planned PSB and other appointees to the Executive Body that will run the day-to-day operations of the Public Service Broadcasting organisation.

3. The Governing Board clearly identifies the objectives and outputs of the Transition Team, based on agreed vision, mission and objectives of the Public Service Broadcasting.

4. The Transition Team is accountable to the Board. It works within a clear-cut timetable to complete the transition.

5. The Transition team creates groups to help examine the infrastructure, human and financial resources, programming and strategies to complete the transition.

6. The Governing Board may tap into AIBD and other relevant organisations to provide consultancy services and assist in the transition.

 

Raise Awareness

1. The Governing Board and the Transition Team should organise information awareness activities to educate its members on the features of the PSB legislation and discuss the mode of implementing the transition mandate.

2. A public education campaign on Public Service Broadcasting should be launched in different communities, schools, multi-media, business, communities and other institutions so that citizens become aware and understand PSB's mandate that demands active public participation and support.

3. The information campaign should target all levels of the state broadcasting network, re-orienting employees and officers on the logic and mandate of PSB. Civil service mentality will need to be changed so that bureaucrats understand the role of Public Service Broadcasting and their expected outputs.

4. The awareness-raising activities will create a groundswell of people fired up to implement the transition. They must create opportunities for the Transition Team to establish strategic partnership and collaboration for effective management of the Public Service Broadcasting organisation.

 

Set up a Strategic Plan

1. A clear, time-bound strategic plan has to be designed, articulating the strategies, tactics and budget to address the PSB vision and mission.

2. The Governing Board,TransitionTeam and members of the Executive Body should consult regularly to fine tune the strategic plan.

3. The Transition Team should create a group to formulate a Code which may contain guidelines regarding culturally-appropriate content, promotion of pluralistic and multi­cultural values sensitive to the ethos of the country and culture, avoiding obscene, violent depictions or material which is insensitive to different groups such as women and children.

 

Determine Resources and Oganisational Needs

1. An inventory of the existing infrastructure of the state broadcasting organisation should be conducted to include organisational set-up and human resource, programming, financial resources and technical equipment.The goal is to determine the gaps and needs towards the shift to Public Service Broadcasting.

2. The organisational structure needs to be set up to determine key posts, tasks, and accountability.

3. A voluntary retirement scheme may be put in place, but must guard against the loss of qualified personnel. Putting an age limit for voluntary retirement can easily retain young people. Redeploying people in other areas is another solution though it may mean retraining for redeployment.

4. Training for creating a staff of multi-skilled people capable of multi-tasking is an important step. This may pose difficulties in some cases because all are not equally comfortable with adapting to new digital technologies, new work environment or new job descriptions.

 

Build Programming and Financial Base

1. The programming and financial provisions of the PSB law should be given special focus to operationalise the PSB body.

2. Process management is equally imp ortant. A re-examination of the process of programme production should be undertaken to reduce redundancy and unnecessary steps.

 


Monitor progress

1. There is a need to set out a procedure by which a phased transition and creation of the departments are implemented.

2. The Transition Team must regularly monitor and review the progress. It should be flexible to make changes, but firm in achieving expected outputs.

3. As the transition to Public Service Broadcasting is taking place, the audience must become increasingly aware of the shifts to Public Service Broadcasting, different from a state or commercial broadcaster.

 

REFERENCE
1 AIBD-FES-NBT in-country seminar. regarding legal, financial, and administrative aspects of public service broadcasting, (2001) Proceedings' Report, Bangkok, Thailand, 28-29 June.
2
AIBD-FES-NBT in-country seminar. regarding legal, financial, and administrative aspects of public service broadcasting, (2001) Proceedings' Report, Bangkok,Thailand, 28-29 June.