The Concept of Public Service Broadcasting is not new. The desire among member countries to serve the public /people through broadcasting gave birth to the notion of Public Service Broadcasting in the Asia-Pacific region many years ago. The beginning of broadcasting in this region was with the sole intention to serve the public. Then, why such an intense debate and discussion on PSB now?
The concept of PSB assumes significant place in the present scenario of highly commercialized broadcasting and technological proliferation, especially in these days of media convergence. Certainly, there is no one form of, public broadcasting, but many different versions. All of them, however, must be governed by the general principle: made for the public, paid by the public and controlled by the public. The word "public" refers to the entire population of the country or region that the public broadcaster is responsible for serving. Therefore, it is highly desirable to re-examine the concept again, and devise some strategies to reach out our people once again.
Secondly, the advent of satellite and cable TV in the region took away the spirit of societal and community values and bred the battle ground for commercialization of PSB. Instead of establishing the unique identity as a PSB, some of us are trying to become cousin of commercial broadcasters.
The situation is aggravated further by the convergence of Television and Internet and paved the way for monopolization of the content by a hand full of multinationals. Recent advent of streaming media and webcasting also made the scenario more complicated by providing alternative platforms for broadcasting.
In the above context, many questions need to be answered: We as a Public Service Broadcaster need to know where we are now. We need to reconsider our existence vis-à-vis people's participation through people's programming. We need to reexamine the nature of PSB in fostering community participation, inculcating democratic values and protecting public interests in broadcasting.
More precisely, what could be our approach to legal, financial and administrative aspects of PSB? Strategically, what are the future developments of PSB and how we are going to cope with the changes?
With these questions in mind, we went to Singapore to organize a Dialogue among professionals from Asia — Pacific, North America and Europe in June 2000. Twenty practitioners along with scholars and policy makers deliberated for three days on various aspects of PSB including legal, financial and administrative aspects.
I am happy that the end of deliberations resulted in a book. Speakers after speakers in their presentations emphasized on the greater need to redefine PSB and popularize the concept once again to take media to the people. This book presents 17 precise articles presented in the seminar starting from defining the concept, Legal, Financial and Administrative Aspects of Public Service Broadcasting: Some Reflections strategies and plans to save PSB from the trap of new commercial paradigm and the steps to evolve a new image and identity of its own.
Member countries of the AIBD have come out with tangible plans to bring PSB to intergovernmental platform to make it a legal instrument to protect the legitimate interest of the public. This approach will reflect more Asian cultures and community values on Public Service Broadcasting.
I hope this edited essays will bring more sense, realization and understanding of the concept of PSB in the present scenario. It is not just a collection of presentations rather varied approaches to the concept of PSB from 17 eminent scholars and practitioners on matters relating to PSB. If the book can bring little concern about the state-of-affairs of PSB, our objectives in the publication of the book really actualized.
On behalf of the Governing Council of the AIBD, I place on record my sincerest thanks to all speakers for their valuable contributions. I wish to thank my colleague Dr. Hara Prasad Padhy, Programme Manager, AIBD and the editor of the book who has done a commendable job in editing such a compact book for our future reference. Without his timely help, the book could not see the light of the day.
Mr. Javad Mottaghi