Maximising Public Value: A Future for Public Service Media in the Nordic-Baltic Region was a two days media forum hosted by Latvian Television and Latvian Radio and organised by the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, in close cooperation with the ERR in Estonia and LRT in Lithuania, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Danish Cultural Institute. The forum broght together high ranking public service professionals, experts, media executives and decision makers from Nordic and Baltic countries to discuss the challenges and threats for strong, competitive public service media in the region, including regulatory, political and financial pressures, as well as the necessity for rapid changes to strengthen the competitiveness in the digital age.
Public service media (PSM), the guardians of quality journalism and an intrinsic measure of resilience of any democratic society, are undergoing dramatic changes and facing pressures – be they digital, financial, regulatory or political. Global competition has come to local media markets, and although global streamers are giving the audiences the ability to choose content more easily, they are also creating a threat to the locally originated content. Digitisation has led to the abundance of bite-sized, not always reliable, information and to tough competition for audience’s attention, pushing PSM into the digital race that requires flexibility and investment. At the same time, across Europe, including the countries holding the continent’s leading PSM, such as the Nordic countries, there are calls from politicians and governments to limit financial resources of PSM and extend political control over public media companies. Furthermore, geo-political pressures related to the massive influence of Russian state-controlled television channels in the Baltics exacerbate the threats to PSM.
All the threats mentioned above underline the necessity for independent, strong and trustful public broadcasting, it is needed even more than ever before. In the environment of tough competition for funds and audience’s attention and in the era of growing populist voices in politics, public broadcasters are particularly indispensable.