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Audiences ‘turn to news they can trust’

The COVID pandemic has shown the importance of public service broadcasters as audiences turn to trusted news, an ABU master class has heard.

The master class on Leadership and Management for Post COVID Media Transformation on 30 March featured speakers from Switzerland, Australia and Italy.

Prof. Matthew Hibberd of Università Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland said the pandemic had changed audience viewing habits irrevocably.

While the giant streaming companies had benefited, so had public service broadcasters, with viewers and listeners turning to news they could trust, he said.

This was despite it being an uneven playing field, with some public broadcasters having to operate under stricter regulations than the giant streaming companies.

Megan Spindler-Smith of ABC-Australia said broadcasters in the post-COVID era needed strategic managers who could be the architects of change.

With people spending much more time on mobile devices, broadcasters needed to share their content on many platforms, she said. Staff needed to be multi-skilled to carry this out.

Marcello Foa of Catholic University in Milan, Italy said public service broadcasters should protect their identities and markets to survive in the new, more competitive media landscape. Flexibility and creativity would make the difference.

He said it was important for them to provide balanced news and accountability. They also needed to be open, flexible and ready to implement decisions quickly.

The ABU Secretary-General, Dr Javad Mottaghi, introduced the speakers and the Head of the ABU Media Academy, Steve Ahern, moderated the discussion.