Cable TV

PSBs differ on views of future

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MUMBAI: Public service broadcasters (PSBs) in the Asia-Pacific region have widely different views about their future, the 2006 Public Broadcasting International (PBI) conference in Maputo, Mozambique, was told on Friday.

The secretary-general of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), David Astley, said that a recent ‘thumbnail survey’ undertaken by the ABU showed that PSBs in the more advanced countries were cautiously optimistic about their future, but those in developing countries – many of whom were in transition from state broadcasting to independent PSBs – were quite pessimistic.

“Finding strategies to cope with the erosion of audience share from the increased competition that the development of digital broadcasting is bringing about was the major challenge identified by the PSBs in the more advanced countries,” Astley was quoted as saying in a report put out on the ABU website.

“Audience behaviour is changing as people respond to the growing choice in digital media, and broadcasters, in turn, are having to respond to those changes by providing more content on demand and on different platforms.

“Generally the PSBs in the more advanced countries are optimistic about their future but recognise that they must embrace change and increase production of local content that is both distinctive and of high quality, to differentiate themselves from commercial broadcasters.”

Astley said that broadcasters in the developing countries, many of whom were in transition from being state broadcasters to independent PSBs, were mostly pessimistic about their future.

“The main issue that they identified was funding,” he said. “Many are not confident that they will have sufficient funding to meet their obligations as public service broadcasters.

“Even without considering the cost of digitalisation in the future, many do not have backup transmitters or money for spares for studio equipment.

“Some are being pressured to go commercial in order to lessen reliance on licence fees or direct government grants - but this might only be replacing political influence with commercial influence.

“In any case, few state broadcasters have staff with the management and marketing skills to compete with their more experienced commercial competitors.”

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