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New study reveals challenges of changing state broadcasters

ABU member Deutsche Welle has released a study into the transformation of state broadcasters into independent media around the world.

“In the Service of the Public – Functions and Transformation of Media in Developing Countries”, is a new study released by DW Akademie.

It says determining whether the transformation of a government broadcaster into an independent media organisation has been successful or not can be a challenge. It is also often unclear whether public service media are the only ones capable of carrying out their public responsibility, or whether private and community media can also take on this role.

The authors take a closer look at broadcasters in twelve countries: Afghanistan, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Moldova, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria and Serbia.

Akademie Director Christian Gramsch says: “Supporting reforms like these is not always easy. Transformation processes can come to a halt. As a media development organisation we often have to look at alternative approaches to take.” 

The publication takes a critical look at the stakeholders involved in each transformation process and the extent to which they have contributed to its success or failure. There is a special focus on analysing approaches taken by media development organisations.

Petra Berner, head of DW Akademie’s Strategy and Consulting Division says one of the study’s major findings is that transformations are possible under certain conditions. However, she points out that transformations require a long-term strategy supported by all stakeholders involved in the process: political elites, management and employees of media outlets, civil society groups and the general public.

The authors stress that greater efforts are needed to create the political and legal frameworks conducive to effectively developing public service media, and that improvements are required for implementing the reforms in the media outlets themselves.

“Media development organisations have often failed to recognise the role of organisational development, and that restructuring broadcasters is a long term-process,” adds Ms Berner.