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State Broadcasters

The potential of reforming state broadcasters in divided societies: Advancing an unfashionable argument

James Deane's picture

BBC Media Action's Director of Policy and Learning argues for an urgent rethinking of what is often considered a relic of the past - the state broadcaster - to encourage discussion, dialogue and understanding across communities in fragile states.

Young child listens on a mobile telephoneMost commentaries on 21st-century media focus on the impact of new technologies, social media and, above all, the increasing global ubiquity of mobile telephony. Such commentaries highlight how in many, if not most, societies, the majority of people are under the age of 30 and are reinventing how humanity communicates with itself. The focus is on innovation, on digital replacing analogue, on an old order of mass, vertical forms of communication being supplanted by horizontal, digitally enabled networks.

Speaking personally, I have advanced at one time or another all these tenets and continue (mostly) to do so. This blog, however, marks the publication of a set of BBC Media Action policy and research outputs I’ve commissioned which collectively advance some unfashionable arguments.

We focus particularly on the role of media in fragile and divided societies and especially on what can be done to support media that transcends, rather than exacerbates, divisions in society. We argue that, for all the innovation, dynamism and potential that exists, there are growing signs that publics are less and less trusting of the media that is available to them. Media environments appear more dynamic, interactive and complex, but much of media – both traditional and social – exists to advance particular agendas or interests in society rather than to serve a public. 21st-century fragmentation of media environments has often been accompanied by an associated fracturing of media often owned, controlled or heavily influenced by particular political, factional, ethnic or religious interests. Such fracturing often applies to both social and traditional media.

Creating a Platform For Media Dialogue

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

An announcement from our colleagues at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung:

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) launched a new publication series on media issues in Africa 

fesmedia Africa, the media project of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) on the African continent,  presented its new publication series earlier this year.

The research papers address students, media practitioners and the interested public. Written by experts in the respective field, they cover a wide range of structural and political issues, like self-regulation of the media, the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for public broadcasting, the role of media in the political process as well as cultural differences in the journalistic practice.