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The Public Service

Populists Gleeful With Public Broadcaster Cuts
ham and beans Another public broadcaster is headed for major budget cuts mandated by politicians. It’s about more than economics, trimming the fat. It’s, again, about shortening that arms-length independence between public broadcasters and politicians to the thumb.




Public Interest Overwhelms Populists
Barts Fun Run Populism as a political force is fueled by angst. It’s a simple as that. The dressed up language of freedom, free-markets and free thought is just so much hot air next to good, old fashioned fear and loathing. Sometimes that moves voters; recently, to be sure. But sometimes voters reject the rants and bombast in favor of perspective.



First Time, Last Time; All Very Predictable
red blue moon Public broadcasters are, as seen in many settings, inextricably intertwined with national authorities. Naturally, politicians with their own futures uncertain find purpose in change. And changes are most visible at public broadcasters. But the gamesmanship rarely achieves more than distraction.



In The Public Service

News, Culture, Equality And Wisdom - January 15, 2018
Edward R Murrow Jobs are important. Life is difficult without them. People prepare diligently and carefully for jobs, mostly, though some just fall into them. All jobs confer status, some more than others. Media jobs, and others in the public eye, attract certain attention. Sometimes it’s the profile or proximity to bright lights. But media jobs are just that, jobs; hard to get, hard to keep.

Black Sheep Populists Troll Public Broadcasting - December 4, 2017
Scratch the surface of any particular debate about public broadcasting and a rash quickly swells up. Private sector broadcasters itch to grab listeners and viewers who would so obviously stream to their channels. Publishers see a fountain of youth, all ready to subscribe. Politicians, splinter and otherwise, are tormented by that "independent" monster waving bad news, robbing them of entitled glory or, usually, shade. It is tempting, then, for public broadcasters to break out in hives.

Media Storm Threats Gather, So Far Mostly High Winds - October 30, 2017
Every turbulence places the media in the eye of the storm. Blame the media has become the common refrain, typically from those unable to see beyond their own spin. If only there was control, churn some. If only there was decency, plead others. The media has become the eye of the storm.

The Agony Of Neutrality, An Objective Lesson - October 16, 2017
Public broadcasting executives fall into two distinct groups. Many are lifers, sealers of the mission, steeped in the culture, occasionally blinded by it. Others are the change agents, coming in from outside the organization with new ideas or, at least, less baggage. More often than not, politicians have a large voice in selections, vacillating between staying the course or changing it. With the nature of media as it is in the 21st century, change is the first choice.

For Usual Suspects Declining Independent Media Part Of The Plan - June 26, 2017
An article of faith among adherents to democratic principles is the significance of an independent public broadcasting service. Even commercial competitors, broadcasting and otherwise, accept, however tepidly, that public broadcasters lift the media market creatively and economically. None of that matters to the recently risen illiberal dictators and oligarchs. The consequence has unleashed a return to State broadcasting, easier on the populist ears and eyes.

The Future Is At Hand – State Broadcasting Returns - May 30, 2016
Public broadcasters working under constrained independence, administrative and financial, risk default to State broadcasting. Those separated barely a generation from dogmatic control face stiff resistance to new and open practice. Authorities always prefer a pliant mouthpiece.

Creating A Path For Some By Spinning The Wind - February 8, 2016
Media regulation changes most when money is the object. Politicians are predisposed to crunch numbers in favor of short-term gain, elections being the most obvious. Broadcasters must consider transmitters, salaries as well as paper clips, air conditioning and pensions. Pulling a string makes the top spin fast enough to overcome inertia. Direction is something else.The advertising people know this.

The Hacks Are Back, Still Looking For Enemies - December 7, 2015
Cultural insecurities are at the root of populist and nationalist political movements. For all the obvious reasons no nation is immune. The media sector, public media in particular, is often singled out for reflecting a more liberal, cosmopolitan society at odds with traditionalists, certainly those with a conspiracy theory or two. Learning from the past is necessary, living there foolish.

Dial M For Mysterious - August 31, 2015
Television people are unusually sensitive these days. The crystal ball shows Netflix, Amazon and HBO attracting viewers as they commission impressive new shows. Broadcasters are being gobbled up by telecoms, cable operators and others seeking the immediate gratification of shareholder value. Unable to keep their hands above the table are the politicians, typically a decade or two behind and narrowly focused on the spoils. It’s time to give that ball a shake.

In The Digital Age There Is No Zero-sum Game - July 13, 2015
hsnds together From the earliest days of broadcasting listeners - and later viewers - in many countries contributed to transmitter and program costs through a tax levy on receiving equipment. Over time public broadcasting emerged in Europe and elsewhere from state operated systems. The household license fee formed, in part, the financial basis for independence from political and commercial influence. Several public broadcasters were able to leverage brand strength from this independence. Neither politicians nor competitors have been pleased.



Separating Progress From Horizontal Motion - March 23, 2015
The biggest executive challenge in handling a crisis is knowing what is and isn’t a crisis. It’s a qualifying attribute, requiring a certain distance from the moment or, at least, good noise-abatement technique. The best executives love, worts and all, their people, programs and jobs. The rest are simply accountants.

Young People Need A Media Tradition - November 17, 2014
With their own music and styles young people have long had media’s complete and absolute attention. Advertisers have loved “youth culture” since the 1960’s when it became a marketing target, separate and distinct from the adult world and ready to spend to prove it. Best equipped to reach out to this new audience, for a variety of reasons, have been the radio broadcasters.

Reform Bogged Down, Experts Called - August 7, 2014
Forming a new public broadcasting system from old State institutions is never as simple as passing a law and changing the letterhead. All European public broadcasters have, in their own way, made that transition. But time entrenches all institutions and change is never easy.

Ideas Are Nice, Execution Is Everything - July 14, 2014
The most successful business models rise from inspiration. History teaches well and boundaries are essential for creative solutions. Stealing ideas works, too. It’s all fair game and public broadcasters need not be shrinking violets.

How Sharper Than The Bosses Axe It Is - June 12, 2014
Stability was once the hallmark of public broadcasting. Day after day, year after year, little changed and very solid brands were formed. New management practice has arrived, not simply cutting budgets and staff but shuffling the organizational plan. Tension, so goes the theory, is superior to complacency. Or maybe horizontal motion is confused with progress.

Don’t Worry, Just Keep Changing - June 9, 2014
Control over information is an illusion if not folly. Those who view media through the prism of the pre-digital era are always frustrated, often angry. The best media has always been a little anarchy with great production techniques. Some people just don’t get it.

Nice Logo Fools Nobody - May 5, 2014
covering Sour economics of the last decade, digital transitions and political shifting have put the media sphere on the back foot. Uncertainty and insecurity are, in many places, part of the landscape. Change for the better seems illusive as strategic investment is just postponed, short-term benefit all that matters. Meanwhile the carousel keeps spinning.

Value For Money, Competition And Jail Time - March 31, 2014
Listeners, viewers and – now – surfers generally give public broadcasters high marks for value. While the standard funding mechanism – the license fee – is less than ideal alternatives are hard to find. But how public broadcasting is funded is inextricably tied to purpose. Competitors and the politicians who love them want to shrink public broadcasting and everything it does. And they’re coming for the money.

Politicians To Stop Circling Public Television…Maybe - March 27, 2014
Politicians love television, except when they hate it. Public television holds an important spot in that love-hate relationship. Politicians tend to expect a certain degree of obedience from publicly funded broadcasting. Dutifully compliant public broadcasters rarely suffer the indignity of policy review. Those setting a more independent course battle constantly over executive appointments and money.

The Best Strategy Is Leading And Not Looking Back - March 10, 2014
Strategies in the digital age are complex. Audiences always want more, not less. And they always want something new, different and, for Generation Selfie, just for them. Austerity economics often provides the itch for change but taking the long view is powerful.

Is It The Distortion Or The Mission? - February 27, 2014
Public broadcasting institutions are either beloved or begrudged. They do too much or too little. They’re either big bullies or ineffectual dwarfs. Outsiders just can’t decide. And that always primes the political vacuum pump.

Politicians Plan For Public Broadcasting: Ready, Fire, Aim - September 23, 2013
Austerity economics and the political games related are tied to the health and well-being of public broadcasting. Politicians prefer their media compliant and will challenge all who complain. Still, public broadcasters know their strength, which confounds those forming the circular firing squad.

The Strains Of Strategy Fall On Corporate Culture - September 12, 2013
Corporate culture is a curious notion, often at odds with corporate structure. Public sector corporate culture can be either stimulating or fear inducing depending on leadership. Mission and its relevance to the public at large can be easily dislodged by indecision as much as bad ones. A positive corporate culture can embrace the ambiguity common to today’s media world but it cannot forge a path without strength of conviction.

Revealing The Precarious World Of Media - June 17, 2013
The media world is delightfully complex. There are broadcasters, public and private. There are publishers, shrill and thoughtful. There’s the web, dynamic and rude. All the parts somehow work together, willingly or not, until the bond is broken.

Politicians Demand Broadcaster Transparency - June 10, 2013
When public money is spent, the details reveal more than just costs. Public broadcasters quiver when asked to defend expenses as accounting alone says little about public service obligations, at times a bit transcendent. Value for money is, they say, a vastly simplistic concept. But politicians like to keep things simple.

Taste, Protest And the Singles Chart - April 15, 2013
Wizard of Oz witch News broadcasters and publishers always prepare carefully for the passage of significant national and world leaders. Archive material is catalogued, stories written, analysts scheduled. Proper recognition and tribute can be delivered when the time arrives. Such is the world of news. Planning only goes so far.





Steep Learning Curve For New Public Broadcasting Chief - March 14, 2013
Public broadcasting chiefs are generally appointed because of radio and TV skills or political talent. Sometimes insiders are preferred and sometimes outsiders, depending on the last scandal. A journalistic background can also be helpful, or not. The most common characteristic is an ability to keep everybody happy.

Blame “The Radio People,” Says TV Guy - February 25, 2013
Management theory holds that senior executives enunciate mission and vision to inspire those in lower ranks. If all goes well, the job gets done and the product or service is successfully delivered to the delighted customer. As organizations grow large, particularly in the public sector, top management can devolve into institutional self-preservation above all else and it can be blinding.

Broadcasters Fight Institutional Inertia With Broom - February 18, 2013
Public broadcasting reform isn’t simple. There seems to be universal agreement, more or less, that the radio and television funded by and for the public is in need of a rethink, digital transition casting a new wave and economics another. Ideas are proposed, debated, changed and discarded. Nothing is easy but a good housecleaning helps.

Critics Blast Public Broadcasting - January 28, 2013
The enduring contradiction in public broadcasting policy is demand versus cost. Various constituents expect high quality programming, everywhere, all the time and lots of it. None of that comes cheap. Finding a balance can be a terrible job.

Critics Greet New Broadcasting Chief With Talk Show Complaints - January 10, 2013
More often than not, new public broadcasting bosses are welcomed to a barrage of criticism. It’s a rite of passage, of sorts. There’s always a complaint, a better idea and sometimes a scandal. Everything is on the table, especially the money.

Public Trust And Management Skill - November 12, 2012
Public broadcasters have become easy targets in recent years for doing too little, doing too much or doing it wrong. Keeping the “public service” flame comes from size, polish and independence from the political gruel. Public broadcasters have endured the periodic raging of critics because public trust remains high. Once that is compromised competitors and angry politicians have the last word.

Blood Sport Rocks Public Broadcaster - October 25, 2012
Media organizations with a large social imprint are regularly placed on an ethical pedestal, always unattainable in real world terms, then set upon by feral beasts to gnaw and chew until the blood flows. Executives know this or learn it the hard way. The result turns a frighteningly large media organization into a large frightened one.

Hold The Public Broadcasting Revolution, Just Run Out The Clock - September 3, 2012
on the clock The biggest challenge for public broadcasters, say some, isn’t funding. Even the richest public broadcasters feel the heat, from commercial broadcasters, new media, publishers and, of course, the politicians. It’s existential. And the long debate sometimes runs out of time.




Politicians Get The TV They Want - August 30, 2012
In the best of times, public broadcasters hold broad support from listeners and viewers as well as politicians. For a generation the former State agencies enjoyed stable, often substantial funding and a measure of independence. Dismal economics feeding political turmoil is turning back the clock.

Modest Mandate For New BBC Boss - July 4, 2012
This age of austerity is, if anything, a call for modesty at public broadcasters. Commercial broadcasters want less competition while the digital dividend promises more. And politicians of a every stripe have their wants and needs. The viewers, of course, just want good television.

Etching The Mission Statement On The Head Of A Pin Without Pricking A Finger - July 2, 2012
Public broadcasters have enjoyed a certain enviable status within the media sphere. Financing reasonably assured, free from the rowdy marketplace and bolstered by national identity many have become iconic brands able to innovate on many levels. But times, like economics, have changed and public broadcasters are asked to explain, exactly, what it is they do.

Cards The Problem As Broadcaster Shuffles Deck - June 11, 2012
As audience shares drop, public broadcasters continue to look for solutions. With flat or contracting revenue streams and politicians wary of details, new ideas look like old ideas. The digital dividend strikes again.

Media Freedom: Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of The Way - May 7, 2012
Media rights advocates facing intransigent autocrats are, as all know well, between a rock and a hard place. Press releases and statements don’t faze the worst of the worst. And triangulating responsibility is a poor substitute for hard diplomacy.

CoE endorses bigger public service, chides back-sliders - February 21, 2012
howling dog Haggling over what is and should be public service broadcasting has only been exacerbated by, in no particular order, the digital dividend and austerity economics. Add to that increasingly irritated private sector media operators thinking about competition and not just a few governments with an authoritarian bent thinking about self-preservation. With that in mind, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers formally adopted a declaration with recommendations supporting public service media.


The Frill Is Gone - February 16, 2012
Public broadcasters are singing the blues. Running ahead of private sector competitors blinded many to extravagance, or the appearance thereof. While few were truly fat with cash the guaranteed revenue streams hid a multitude of sins, real or perceived, and those became targets of publishers, politicians and other predators. The result is a new tune of slow, dark notes that leaves the audience hanging.

Public Broadcasting Chiefs Roll With The Punches…Sometimes Out The Door - January 30, 2012
Corporation boards, however they are constituted, always have a succession plan. Nobody wants confusion about when the CEO leaves the stage, so to speak. Public broadcasters are generally quite orderly about tenures and terms, except when they’re not.

License Fee: Love You, Love You Not - January 23, 2012
Public broadcast financing remains contentious as services change with the digital universe and budgets under pressure. A license fee based on receiving equipment seems outmoded as listeners and viewers opt for internet and mobile applications. All financing options and combinations thereof are under the microscope. Just don’t call it a tax.

A Long, Hard Look At Management Oversight - September 29, 2011
Scandals at media organizations have a way of lingering on and on. Revelations trigger investigations, which lead to recriminations, a resignation or two, then more investigations and revelations. Getting to the bottom of it all can be illuminating.

Meet The New Boss, Once The Old Boss - August 29, 2011
Public broadcasters have remained highly competitive across the broad landscape. A certain advantage is a development and strategy view longer than the next quarter, executives and budgets reasonably stable. It’s normal. But sometimes a different normal is invented.

New Media: Excited About Being Excited - June 30, 2011
Slice by slice, media consumption is a battlefield. Advantage goes the strongest, most savvy and fleetest afoot. How that’s applied makes a difference but, sometimes, a new trick or two changes the landscape.

Who Wants To Be The Boss? - June 22, 2011
Recent years have been challenging for public broadcasters. Once the picture of stability within the media landscape, public radio and television organizations are in a state of constant turmoil. And managing them just isn’t as much fun any more.

Finding The Least Painful Place To Cut - June 13, 2011
sausage grinder Calls to cut public broadcasting services are not new. Private sector broadcasters have fought for limits to public broadcasters expansion, winning battles but not necessarily the war. More recently – in this age of austerity – politicians have joined in. Unintended consequences, though, have a way of rising.




Big TV Events Are “Useful” In Many Ways - June 6, 2011
Hosting a major televised entertainment event is an opportunity beyond compare for nations big and small. That international spotlight brings lots of attention. It can be “a golden opportunity.”

High Ground Shakes In Public Broadcasting Debate - April 13, 2011
Public broadcasters have long drawn fire from private commercial competitors for audiences they attract and the money they spend doing it. The biggest public broadcasters have managed to fend off serious attacks on their financing and mission claiming the high-ground of public service, staying well above the hoi polloi of commercial media. Critics claim it’s just not right.

Can’t You All Just Get Along? - April 4, 2011
Powerful people play tough because they know that’s the way the game is played. Mixing politics and media with ego and hubris can create a high-tech war zone. This story is about the tricks, trials and collateral damage.

Violence Added To Public Radio Threats - March 13, 2011
What adds measurably to the media landscape is a diversity of voices. Sometimes that’s accomplished by policies opening access to the media space. Sometimes it’s accomplished by balancing public and private media. All the time it’s to “enrich man’s spirit.”

Leading By Cooperation - January 11, 2011
One lesson from new media is the benefit of cooperation. Technologies being what they are, competing for devices never works. Audiences move quickly through each new phase. Broadcasters and publishers are learning about the power of cooperation and the costs.

Reform Law Fails As Voters Stay Home - December 14, 2010
As governments swing from right to left and back again, rules governing media are targets of opportunity. Every politician, it seems, has an opinion on media, public and private, old and new. Voters, though, are hard to impress.

Public Broadcasters “Don’t Want To Be Poor” - October 18, 2010
No single part of the media sector has escaped the upheavals this decade has brought. Digital media and broadband uptake left broadcasters and publishers bemused as consumers – and advertisers - leapt for iPods, smartphones and Facebook. Add a financial crisis to general uncertainty and some media operators, particularly public broadcasters, are banging the pots for cash.

Whose Web? Indeed - October 11, 2010
sunset The Web giveth and the Web taketh away. It is mighty and it is bold. Cue the lightening bolt! But whose Web is it? Cue the thunder.





Public Television: Just Wait - September 7, 2010
Long gone are the easy days for public broadcasting. Politicians have searched for convenient solutions; to governance, finance, competition. At every corner, there’s a surprise. Change is hard to manage.

Those Dirty Little Secrets - August 30, 2010
Public broadcasters generally eschew opportunities to eviscerate adversaries, those from the commercial media sector in particular, those owning newspapers in specific. It’s unkind, déclassé, even impolitic. In the UK, the knives have come out.

If Public Sector Budgets Are Getting Slashed Can Public Broadcasters Be Far Behind? The BBC Just Answered That One! - July 1, 2010
You are the public broadcaster and your pension fund that had a £470 million ($708 million; €580 million) deficit two years ago is now running a deficit close to £2 billion ($3 billion; €2.5 billion). What to do? The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) answered that one Wednesday – you change the rules so every single employee is going to end up with much less at retirement age than they had previously thought.

Is This The End Of The Radio-TV Sheriff? - June 11, 2010
Oh, the radio and television license fee has suffered. Unless you live where it’s collected by stealth or not collected at all, the fee supporting your public broadcaster is compulsory. The radio and TV sheriff comes sniffing around your door.

“Squeezed To The Max” Public Broadcasters Choose New Bosses - May 24, 2010
Recent months have seen a spate of new public broadcasting bosses. Some have big, new, bold ideas. Some are just trying to keep their heads above water.

The Show Must Go On, But Forget An Encore - May 21, 2010
The Eurovision Song Contest may be a bit cheesy but it ain’t cheap. For public broadcasters hosting the ESC is an opportunity to step into an international spotlight and show what they can do with a high profile musical event. For those facing budget pressures, the ESC is a challenge, and increasingly so.

Broadcaster losses better than expected, dread remains - February 18, 2010
We are now accustomed to great cheering when a media company posts smaller than expected losses. Stock, however that’s viewed, generally rises. Mix in a contentious new media law and there’s no good news.

Public and Private Media Fight Over iPhone Apps - January 4, 2010
Nothing says you’re connected like having an iPhone app. Without one you are consigned to the media backwater, ignored if not forgotten and certainly uncool. Whether or not public broadcasters offer iPhone apps is now controversial.

Chaos Has Its Cost - December 14, 2009
Bankrupt public broadcaster spent millions on perks, bonuses and other fun as government cut revenue sources. Auditors looked down the rabbit hole and found too many consultants and outside lawyers. Meanwhile, there’s a new boss to be chosen.

Quick Decision for Spain's Public Broadcaster - November 23, 2010
Spanish politicians quickly agreed on a new head of public broadcaster RTVE. The last General Director left quickly. Perhaps the new person won't move so fast.

Dominoes in Dreamland - November 13, 2009
Berlin Wall dominoes The fall of the Iron Curtain was a drama acted on many stages. One by one, countries in Central and Eastern Europe reset political scripts all of which were given new airing on radio and television and in newspapers. There were dreams.





Confusion Seeking Good Press - September 28, 2009
There’s an election coming, always a clue to politicians’ interest in television. What better reason to fire the head of the public broadcaster, again. But what if he won’t leave the building?

Public broadcasters learn a new word: austerity - June 24, 2009
Governments expect public broadcasters to do everything possible, and then some. When the money flows, everybody grows. When it slows, it’s time to go.

Television is OK - April 20, 2009
Digital television is fast arriving, bringing more channels and more competition. TV on the Web is fast approaching, bringing even more channels and even more competition. With that stress and more, Eurovision TV director Bjorn Erichsen says, “Television is OK.”

New opportunities for children’s media - February 23, 2009
Children’s television attracts the attention of everybody, it seems, except those young people. Advocates would allocate more public money, alleviating shrinking advertising revenues. Major broadcasters and program producers fight over schedules. The whole of children’s media only survives with clear direction.

BBC criticized... again - January 26, 2009
journalism British aid agencies decided to mount a campaign to support Palestinians in the wake of Israel’s recent military action. It’s normal to take this kind of appeal to broadcasters who, in turn, would take it to the general public. The BBC will not, as last report, participate.


Public service: let me compare thee to a bus - January 21, 2009
Yet another government agency has killed hundreds of trees publishing a plan for public service broadcasting. What’s missing – again – is a robust meaning for public service. To protect public broadcasting it is not longer viable to leave this at ‘we’ll know it when we see it.’

Who’s in charge? The circular firing squad surrounds public television - December 21, 2008
With new competitors popping up, ad revenues in peril and license fee revenues sagging public broadcasters agonize. Politicians either line up to take charge or run for cover. It’s a war out there.

Long dominant public broadcaster falls on hard times - November 24, 2008
Caught between rising costs and falling ad revenues, broadcasters are cutting wherever they can. With this financial trap exacerbated by the wave of far broader economic woes, cutting services is next. If that isn’t enough to quell the mounting red ink, selling assets is all that’s left.

Memo to Mark Thompson: On Talent Management and Damage Control - October 29, 2008
bag on head Broadcast managers have a love-hate relationship with talent – love the ratings, hate the management. Buying high priced talent, for ineffective managers, means not managing at all. When damage occurs, somebody has to pay.





Public broadcasters attacked (again and again) - September 22, 2008
Times are tough. It’s tough out there for banks, insurance companies, airlines and media. So when the going gets tough – as we’ve seen in the last week – the tough call on governments to fix it.

Is Sarkovision Public Broadcastings Future? - June 30, 2008
Like pixels filling the screen from a slow internet connection, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s picture for public broadcasting is either a tantalizing glimpse of the future-possible or too frustrating to watch.

Berlin multicultural channel to close - May 27, 2008
Nobody’s happy. Radio MultiKulti, produced since 1994 by Berlin public broadcasters, will close at the end of the year. So it is when the budget meets the spreadsheet.

Eurovision Is, Was And Will Be - May 26, 2008
ESC Belgrade 2008 A nice tune performed by a Russian singer, written and produced by Americans, swept the Eurovision Song Contest voting. Commentators from countries that got few votes pulled no punches, calling the most watched single pan-European live television event doomed. The Contest’s eastward trajectory cannot be denied, nor can the phenomenon of the people’s vote.


Grand plan for France Monde reduced, replaced, redacted - May 3, 2008
Sarkozy culture It’s been nearly a year since French president Nicholas Sarkozy unveiled his plan to consolidate and reorganize French international broadcasting. One public company would be created – France Monde – under which Radio France Internationale, France 24 and TV5 Monde would merge. The unions objected. The partners objected. Owners of the name objected.




Leaders argue about money for public broadcasting: good ideas or none - April 6, 2008
negotiation A proposal to fund public broadcasting in France with a tax on internet and mobile phone services met another round of criticism from EC Info Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.





Eurovision faces tough questions on song contest in Serbia - February 2, 2008
Violent demonstrations in Serbia raised tensions among Eurovision Song Contest organizers. Eurovision and the EBU downplayed suggestions of moving the venue from Belgrade.

Public Broadcasters Calmed As Ministers Translate M. Sarkozy - January 10, 2008
M. Sarkozy Anytime a national leader suggests changes in any institution some people get very nervous. So it was earlier in the week as new French President Nicolas Sarkozy commented on French broadcasting. Share prices for commercial TV channels and advertising companies rose as public broadcasters eyed the window ledges.


Broadcasting chief resigns over Putin documentary - December 7, 2007
The great lesson from the recent Russian Parliamentary election campaign is very simple: expect the expected. Russian media was, at best, compliant and, at worst, complicit. But who would expect Russian influence on media to drive into the European Union?


Digital on the edge; public broadcasting hustles for money - December 5, 2007
digital TV

The difference between public and private sector broadcasting can be reduced to one thought, according to the ‘publics.’ The ‘privates’ need programs to make money, they say, and the ‘publics’ need money to make programs. ‘Content’ has replaced the very last century concept of ‘program’ and hustling money has changed, too.



The BBC Broadcasts Part One Of Its Monarchy Documentary That Proved How Silly And Stupid All That False Hype Was That Cost The Jobs Of the BBC1 Controller And A Senior Production Company Executive - November 28, 2007
The BBC showed on Monday the first part of its documentary series about the British monarchy at work and the message that flowed was how utterly stupid that whole hype mess for the series was that brought down the BBC 1 Controller and a senior executive at the production company.


Ministers ‘save’ TV5 Monde - November 10, 2007
TV5 Monde partners have checked French government efforts to consolidate its international broadcasting. Swiss, Belgians and Canadians want the French-language television channel to remain a partnership and not become ‘the voice of France.’

Get out the vote campaign worked, moans politician - October 29, 2007
Kaczynski Campaigns by public television to encourage election voting characterize civic responsibility. Democratic participation in elections is a good thing. Encouraging that participation is also a good thing.






BBC 1 Controller Resigns Over Queen Fiasco - October 8, 2007
The controller of the BBC’s primary terrestrial channel, BBC1, has resigned as heads begin to roll over Buckingham Palace’s fury at the public broadcaster showing the media a trailer for a documentary that edited video out of context and embarrassed the Queen.

New Eurovision Song Contest Rules - October 2, 2007
The next Eurovision Song Contest will be different. Details are sketchy but two semi-finals will determine the finalists and maybe a wild-card

Remember That Pioneer TV Show “Who Do You Trust?” A Survey Says The British Public, By A Large Margin, No Longer Trusts Its TV - August 26, 2007
trust Before Johnny Carson became a household US TV name on “The Tonight Show” he hosted a daily half-hour quiz show titled “Who Do You Trust?” If That show was alive today and asked that question of the British public their overwhelming answer would be, according to a new survey, that they know who they don’t trust – British TV.

Money and politics mix as Moscow radio station dumps BBC - August 18, 2007
From Russia


Moscow station Bolshoye Radio informed the BBC (Friday August 17) and stopped broadcasting BBC Russian immediately. For the BBC, its last FM re-broadcaster in Russia is gone. For international broadcasters it is another footnote to a changing world.



Youth station DJs fired - ‘too old’ - August 8, 2007
Public broadcasting jobs in Germany are not jobs for life any more. Too old and you’re out at youth channel Radio Fritz.

kick the TVDon’t blame the independent producers - July 23, 2007
The agonized whinging from BBC critics, honorably not other broadcasters, bemoan the lost days when broadcasters produced everything they aired. That system ended sometime in the last century. That day came when one general director after another asked that very important – and so very ‘80’s – question: What business are we in?



It’s Not Good Business To Upset The Queen - July 23, 2007
The independent program maker RDF Media has learned the hard way it is not good business to portray the Queen in a manner that’s not true, and embarrass the public broadcaster at the same time.

South Africa shares its world-view - July 22, 2007
South Africa’s State broadcaster became the most recent addition to the bouquet of viewpoints offered to television viewers with the debut of SABC International. The satellite channel will counter the “half truths” told by “news agencies with headquarters in powerful nations,” beamed President Thabo Mbeki in a launch speech all too familiar.

BBC black logoWhat A Month For The BBC’s Reputation For Excellence – It Has Apologized To The Queen, Ofcom Slaps It With Its First-Ever Fine, It Cuts Off Tony Blair’s Final Minutes in Parliament, And Its Trustees Says It Is “Deeply Concerned” At Falling Standards - July 19, 2007
When a company’s board issues a public statement saying “significant failures of control and compliance” have compromised “values of accuracy and honesty” and that company is the world’s most prestigious public broadcaster, the BBC, then one has to ask how long it will take for some top jobs to go?

Unbelievable! BBC Television Cuts Off Terrestrial Coverage Of Blair’s Historic Last Day In Parliament For A Drama Series Promo And Wimbledon - June 28, 2007
It was a historical day – the UK’s prime minister was making his last appearance in Parliament before going off to see the Queen to resign. An event that one might think a public broadcaster would cover in its entirety? Not so the BBC for its terrestrial viewers.

New US Broadcasting Chief Knows His Way Around a Newsroom - June 25, 2007
BBG logo

James K. Glassman has become Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency supervising US government international broadcasting. Answering questions via email this weekend, he offered a candid and optimistic appraisal of the agency and its mission.
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From Russia on YouTube - June 11, 2007
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Russia’s new international TV channel Russia Today has discovered Web 2.0. Faced with a distribution challenge, YouTube provides a solution.



Pope Benedict XVI Often Criticizes Television For Showing Anti-Social, Violent and Sexual Programming Aimed At Children, But RAI, the Italian Public Broadcaster, Will Televise A British TV Documentary That Says The Pope As A Cardinal Maintained Church Secrecy In Child Sexual Abuse Cases, And, Again, The Church Is Not Pleased - May 23, 2005
Pope Benedict XVI on several occasions this year has criticized the media, particularly television, for programming particularly aimed at children that goes against their moral social good. But the Church had another TV issue to deal with this week as RAI, the Italian public broadcaster, planned to show a BBC documentary critical of the then Cardinal Ratzinger for enforcing church secrecy rules on its many child sexual abuse cases around the world.

Iran Broadcasting Chief Says Radio a Source of Calm. US Congressmen Disagree - May 20, 2007
An Iranian sponsored international radio conference and a US Congressional committee hearing, all in one week, heaped praise and criticism on broadcasters.
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Another Public Broadcaster Under Government Pressure – Nobody’s Happy - May 5, 2007
Romanian public television is losing money and the Parliament is unhappy. The broadcasters’ president walked (or ran) out a week ago. He was unhappy. Another public broadcaster in the new Member States faces a crisis.

English Language Radio Comes to Georgia - April 18, 2007
NPRs reach extending south

Polish President Puts New Spin on Polish Plumber Jokes - April 10, 2007
Firing yet another public television president sets no precedent in either Poland or the new Member States. Polish President Lech Kaczynski ordered TVP President Bronislaw Wildstein out at the end of February moving ever more quickly to bring the broadcaster under State control. Wildstein’s successor, former Kaczynski aide Andrzej Urbanski, was nominated and appointed within a week.

Engaging the Future: The BBC – Global Voice to the World
ftm interviews BBC Global News Director Richard Sambrook - April 4, 2007

dish farm The world finds its bearings each day from broadcast news. Through radio and television sounds and images, facts and reality are sorted and chosen by billions. Though times are changing broadcast news will continue to inform and educate like no other medium for generations to come. News brands have expanded to meet increasing demand; CNN has global television reach, Al Jazeera is a new force and the BBC lofts above them all.

Slow Change for Bulgaria and Romania State Broadcasters - January 5, 2007
Bribes, favors and turning a blind eye swallow the Bulgarian and Romanian political and business cultures. Concerns by European Commissioners turned to warnings, threatening to delay or postpone both countries accession to the European Union. The State broadcasting institutions were far from exempt.

Faith-healers in Budapest to Save MTV - November 6, 2006
MTV building


With Hungarian public television clinging to life by a thread, public broadcasting support groups hold an “extraordinary” séance.



What Got Stuck in Arne Wessberg’s Craw? - September 9, 2006
The always diplomatic Arne Wessberg – outgoing president of the always diplomatic European Broadcasting Union – left the stage with a sharply un-diplomatic blast at Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and public television channel MTV.

“Third Way” is New Direction for PSB Youth Channels - August 1, 2006
PSB youth channels typically follow one of two formats — the more program-driven “educational/alternative” option and the standard-fare contemporary hit radio (CHR), which competes more openly with commercial stations. A “third way” is developing; pleasing to pleasing to public broadcasters, upsetting their private competitors.

Eurovision Song Contest Not Political - July 30, 2006
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) reacted swiftly and harshly to a suggestion that the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest just might be a great promotional device for the European Unions’ 50th anniversary.



Swiss Lead in Radio Recycling - July 28, 2006
Environmentally friendly Switzerland tries “World Radio Switzerland” for the 2nd or 3rd time.

Eurovision Song Contest 2007: the Devil is in the Details - June 26, 2006


Hardly more than a month since a Finnish hard rock band called Lordi gave the Eurovision Song Contest an essential boost and it’s time to gather the shock troops and the funds. Finland and its public broadcaster YLE will host.



New Leadership Named for TV Poland - May 20, 2006
The new Polish government made good on its announced intentions to change the leadership at Telewizja Polska, Polish public television. The National Broadcasting Council named a new supervisory board, a new management board and new president, conforming to political party guidelines, within a week, finishing just in time for the annual TVP open house.

The BBC Wants Back Its Teen Audience No Matter The Video and Audio Platforms Used. But Rupert Murdoch Wants Those Teens Surfing MySpace, And His People Howl At The BBC Spending Public Funds For Competitive Sites. Let The Battle Begin. - April 28, 2006 The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) has clearly set out traditional media’s problem and how it intends to fix it. “The BBC should no longer think of itself as a broadcaster of TV and radio and some new media on the side. We should aim to deliver public service content to our audiences in whatever media and on whatever device makes sense for them, whether they are at home or on the move.”

PSB Youth Channel Plans in Bavaria Stir Private Broadcasters - February 9, 2006
Europe’s public radio broadcasters have discovered a new and unexpected audience: young people. When Bavaria’s public broadcaster announced plans to launch its version of youth radio, private broadcasters cried foul.

Czech Public Youth Radio Waves Hello - January 18, 2006
Public broadcaster Cesky Rozhlas (Czech Radio - CRo) launched Radio Wave (CRo4) January 13th (yes, Friday the 13th) at 13:13 aimed at 15 to 25 year old listeners.

Pattiz Era Ends at BBG - January 12, 2006
Norman J. Pattiz has resigned from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the oversight board which controls American government international broadcasting. His five-year tenure at BBG was fraught with controversy over new radio and television services targeting the Middle East. Pattiz met with BBG staff on Tuesday then issued the following statement, which was emailed to BBG, IBB and VOA staff by Bert Kleinman, Executive Vice President of Middle East Broadcasting Network.

Public Television Pain / Slovakia - November 24, 2005
Public service television in the new Member States struggles still with painful transition. Inheriting bloated operations in place since - and protected by - previous regimes many attempted to leave State broadcasting behind but not the structures. Slovak Television (SVT) had a different set of challenges. It didn’t exist before 1993.

Wayne’s World – Where Reality TV is Reality - November 17, 2005
Touting hits like “Strictly Come Dancing” and “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids,” BBC Entertainment chief Wayne Garvie praises reality TV to public service broadcasters.

US Broadcasting Agencies Under Investigation - November 7, 2005
After meeting for three days at an undisclosed location the US Corporation for Public Broadcasting board accepted the resignation of former chairman and current board member Kenneth Y. Tomlinson. This week Tomlinson will appear before a Congressional subcommittee investigating Arabic television channel Al-Hurra. Tomlinson currently chairs the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all US government overseas media programs, including Voice of America and Al-Hurra television.

BBC Returns to Arabic TV, Vacates Eastern Europe - November 3, 2005
When the BBC World Service announced plans for an Arabic language television channel there was no doubt it would succeed. The Beeb has been there before. And without that episode a dozen years ago, troubled though it was, neither Al-Jazeera nor Al-Arabiya would exist today.

Big News: Planning Required - August 1, 2005
Covering news events can be like a military operation: Broadcasters rush to deploy reporters and crews, deliver supplies, to the right locations at the right times. And then, everything changes as the event unfolds.

PSBs Scramble to Meet Rule Proposals - June 30, 2005
The BBC looks ahead to the Charter Review and sells an asset. Swiss public broadcasting says a new radio and TV law will cause cuts.

With So Much Attention These Days on How Video Is Transforming the Web Let’s Not Forget Audio - June 22, 2005
The BBC Didn’t, Offered Five Beethoven Symphonies For Free and Logged More Than 650,000 Downloads. And Podcasting Is Growing Everywhere.

To The Barracades!! - May 26, 2005
BBC employee unions and management are at the arbitration table today, actually separate rooms. Public service broadcasting faces yet another dilemma.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do - May 23, 2005
Independent American public broadcaster NPR seeks Berlin radio license. And the US government isn’t happy.
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Fomenting Public Diplomacy - May 2, 2005
RFE/RL has a new logo, dumping that old bell for a new flame, RFI and DW partner-up and the BBC World Service wants to send more emails.

It’s Not So Easy Being a European Public Broadcast Executive These Days. Was It Ever? - April 25, 2005
One EU investigation ends as another begins, budgets are cut, laws are changed, not to mention strikes, and let’s not forget the occasional blasphemy charge.

BBC License Fee Lives For Another Ten Years. What Then? - March 14, 2005
The Green Paper on the BBC’s Royal Charter recommends continuing the license fee for another 10 years but suggests an end in sight.

Competition Commission Opens Investigation to Open the Books at ARD/ZDF - February 24, 2005
Representatives of four German states paddled to Brussels last week hoping to head off a formal investigation. It failed. Commissioner Kroes says the “open the books.”

“It’s Pointed and a Bit Uncomfortable” - February 24, 2005
In an extraordinary positioning campaign, Swedish public television “provokes” as it promotes points at Silvio Berlusconi.

A Cartoon Rabbit Visits Two Lesbian Families and Soldiers Actually Swear In A Documentary about Iraq -- It’s All Too Much for US Public Broadcasting and They’re Looking for a New PBS Boss - February 21, 2005
With the House of Representatives approving a bill in record time to increase indecency fines from $$32,500 to $500,000, the US Secretary of Education demanding a refund of the department’s funding for a cartoon show...

Editor-in-Chief Appointed at Radio Netherlands - February 14, 2005
Radio Netherlands announces the appointment of Joop Daalmeijer as Editor-in-chief and director.

Experts to Dutch Public Broadcasters: No Singing and No Dancing - February 7, 2005
Governments must look for efficiency in their public media policies, says a Dutch think tank. Entertainment is out.

PSB Anxiety, Far From Cute - February 3, 2005
Europe’s public service broadcasters, nearly healed after the last anxiety attack, return to the analysts couch.

A Very Long Year for the BBC - January 24, 2005
An anniversary like no other passes this week, January 28th. Don’t expect celebrations. In the year since Lord Hutton tarred the BBC, the public broadcasting icon, every critic has piled on.

The Public Diplomacy of Willis Conover - November 2, 2004
The end of October brought the end of Swiss Radio International broadcasting on shortwave and as I considered this I could not help but think of Willis Conover.

OFCOM Throws Punch at BBC, Proposes £300m TV channel - October 16, 2004
Time was when the BBC deftly avoided punches thrown by critics and competitors. A series of OFCOM reports and statements suggests the real contest is only beginning.

Top Two Go in Danmarks Radio Mess - October 13, 2004
To borrow from  Hamlet, ”There is something rotten in the state of Danmarks Radio.” First, the Chairman of the Board fired the Director General and then the chairman resigned after he admitted a television interview he gave about the firing was somewhat at variance with the truth.

New Controller Named at BBC Radio 4 - October 1, 2004
BBC News deputy director Mark Damazer has been appointed Controller of BBC Radio 4 and BBC 7.

UK commercial radio reports “public service” content - September 22, 2004
CRCA publishes its study of news and community information broadcast by UK commercial stations, adding to OFCOMs review of “public service.”

German business group seeks change in broadcast license fees - September 3, 2004
The German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) proposed changes in the system that collects broadcast license fees.

Trade union bristles at new France Culture schedule - August 30, 2004
When France Culture director Laure Adler announced new fall programs the trade union representing Radio France employees (CGT) snarled that management was putting the channel in danger.

ftm Knowledge

Media in Spain - Diverse and Challenged – new

Media in Spain is steeped in tradition. yet challenged by diversity. Publishers hold great influence, broadcasters competing. New media has been slow to rise and business models for all are under stress. Rich in language and culture, Spain's media is reaching into the future and finding more than expected. 123 pages, PDF. January 2018

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The Campaign Is On - Elections and Media

Elections campaigns are big media events. Candidates and issues are presented, analyzed and criticized in broadcast and print. Media is now more of a participant in elections than ever. This ftm Knowledge file reports on news coverage, advertising, endorsements and their effect on democracy at work. 84 pages. PDF (September 2017)

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Fake News, Hate Speech and Propaganda

The institutional threat of fake news, hate speech and propaganda is testing the mettle of those who toil in news media. Those three related evils are not new, by any means, but taken together have put the truth and those reporting it on the back foot. Words matter. This ftm Knowledge file explores that light. 48 pages, PDF (March 2017)

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