Principles are the foundations in which we build and enhance institutions. For Public Service Broadcasting to evolve in the Asia-Pacific region, its players need guiding principles in organising, managing and operating PSB. Full adherence may be difficult particularly during the transition. Variations are inevitable as the demands of Public Service Broadcasting and the changing realities in each country necessitate finding common grounds. Variations should not destroy the core of each principle; if they occur, they should aim to assist broadcasters in building blocks towards the full realisation of the goals of Public Service Broadcasting.
Principle 1: Public Service Broadcasting is for all citizens
a. Public Service Broadcasting should aim for geographic universality. It is paramount that all citizens in an area in which a public service broadcaster is assigned a license, should receive its signals. This puts citizens on an equal footing whatever their social status or income.
b. Its products and services should be available and accessible to all citizens. They should appeal to both minorities and majorities, whether defined by race, culture, geography, taste and lifestyle. They should address the tastes and interests of all groups, providing them opportunities not only as consumers, but also as citizens and content providers.
c. Public Service Broadcasting must contribute towards building a media literate audience capable of participating actively in the development, growth and sustainability of the service, and appreciation of its content.
Principle 2: Public Service Broadcasting reflects diversity.
a. The people who manage and operate Public Service Broadcasting should reflect the diversity of the entire population.
b. Its programmes should offer a variety of genres from newscasts to light programmes that appeal to the public.
c. Programme content should aim for a diversity of topics and issues important, to the lives of citizens.A programme may be of interest to a particular section of the public; but in the end, public service broadcasting should reach all citizens, not through each programme, but through all the programmes and their diversity.
Principle 3: Public Service Broadcasting offers quality content.
a. Public Service Broadcasting should offer content that has integrity, characterised by verifiable and authentic sources, fairness, objectivity, and credibility.
b. It should present creative content, using original materials, fresher and newer content and from a different and diverse perspective. Creative content should delight, attracting audiences and advertisers alike.
c. Public Service Broadcasting offers programmes and services that are distinct from other industry players, enabling it to innovate, introduce new slots and genres, and set the pace in the electronic media industry.
d. It should consciously promote scientific thinking, respect for human rights and cultural diversity, gender equality, dialogue and debate on social and political issues.
Principle 4: Public Service Broadcasting practices editorial Independence
a. Public Service Broadcasting media must be recognised as autonomous players in the development of the society. 1
b. PSBs should practice editorial independence in order to protect and enhance free expression and the journalistic and creative functions.
c. PSBs should provide " authority of voice, not the voice of authority" 2
d. Content must be protected from the following:3
- Direct and indirect political pressures
- Use of financial resources
- Control of production and distribution to pressurize the media into serving specific commercial interests
- Efforts to use media to promote sectional socio-cultural interests
- Efforts by owners, publishers, and managers to make content subordinate to interests rather than editorial aims
Principle 5: Public Service Broadcasting should be financially independent
a. Public Service Broadcasting should generate funds necessary to become viable and sustainable.
b. It should exercise autonomy in managing revenues, from source generation to its deployment.
c. It should put in place policies and guidelines for monitoring and control systems that promote transparency and accountability in handling financial resources.
d. Public Service Broadcasting should not be dependent on one source. It should generate funds from multiple sources in order to ensure financial independence. It should not allow any of these sources to interfere with the management and operation of public service broadcasting.
Principle 6: Public Service Broadcasting demands creative and professional human resources
a. An effective PSB requires people who can generate or recognise ideas, alternatives and possibilities useful in solving problems, communicating with others and building a winning organisation. They are open to new ways of thinking from a different perspective. They are flexible, tolerant, and discerning to address the demands of Public Service Broadcasting.
b. Public Service Broadcasting requires highly-professional staff characterised by
- Competence: people with expertise in their assigned tasks; they keep abreast of technological change to help them work more efficiently; doers and managers who pay attention to ideas, alternatives and possibilities.
- Accountability: people who take charge to implement policies and directions and are responsible for the outcomes.
- Good character and conduct:people who comply with organisational rules and the laws of the land; manifest honesty and fairness in dealing with the stakeholders.
- Good ethics: people who safeguard private, proprietary, organisation-specific, or confidential information about the employers and customers entrusted to them; they do not enter into private arrangements to gain financially or generate further personal recognition or opportunity, contrary to the objectives of PSBs.
Principle 7: Public Service Broadcasting adheres to strong accountability practices
a. Open and transparent accountability should be practiced.
b. Effective accountability requires that concerned parties have clear roles and responsibilities, which they agree upon.
c. The goals and performance expectations should be clearly laid out. Parties should know the constraints and respect them.
d. Performance expectations should not be developed in isolation.They should be linked to the capacity (i.e., skills, resources) of each party to deliver. There must also be a balance between expectations and capacity.
e. Parties should provide credible reporting of their performance and what they have learned from it.
f. Accountable parties should review and give feedback on the performance, and provide recommendations for improvement.
g. Reasonable controls should be in place to enhance accountability. Controls can come in the form of appropriate incentives, effective training and communications, and promotion of good ethics and values.
Principle 8: Public Service Broadcasting cultivates strategic partnerships and collaboration
a. Public Service Broadcasting cannot be all things to all stakeholders. It must cultivate strategic partnerships with various groups within and outside the broadcast industry that can contribute towards the PSB mandate.
b. PSBs should build a new partnership framework through updating/adopting relevant parameters for effective collaboration between the PSB network and its clients.
c. PSBs should tap into the experience and expertise of strategic partners to enhance the delivery of their products and services. Doing so will build the capability of Public Service Broadcasting to seek new business opportunities, production ventures, funding sources and more effective management.
d. Public Service Broadcasting should promote international cooperation.
1 Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) Asia Media Summit (2006) Proceedings of the pre-summit seminar on public interest and broadcasting development: Regulation, co-regulation, and self-regulation, Kuala Lumpur, 29.
2 Robert Beveridge, (2008) Presentation at EBU Digital Radio Conference; Cagwari, Sardinia
3 Ammu Joseph (ed). Mediating Dialogue between Continents & Cultures,Asia Media Summit, (2006) article by Khan,A.W. Media independence and accountability. Session at the UNESCO - Asia Media Summit 2006. Kuala Lumpur, 29-31 May.