Populists Gleeful With Public Broadcaster Cuts
Another public broadcaster is headed for major budget cuts mandated by politicians. Itís about more than economics, trimming the fat. Itís, again, about shortening that arms-length independence between public broadcasters and politicians to the thumb.
Denmark’s conservative coalition government, with votes from the right-wing/populist Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti - DF), agreed last week to terms eliminating the public broadcasting license fee and reducing public broadcaster DR’s budget by 20% over the next five years. Financing DRs radio, TV and online services will come from income tax revenues. The measure will become effective at the first of next year.
“DR will still be able to produce a really good amount,” said Finance Minister Kristian Jensen, quoted by the Copenhagen Post (March 16). “They ought to focus on their primary area which is news, culture and disseminating history.” Details of the political agreement will be made public in April.
"We have the ambition to create a more focused DR,” said Culture Minister Mette Bock, quoted by journalisten.dk (March 16). “DR must reconsider itself as a cultural institution. At the same time, we will create better balance between the state-owned media and the private Danish media market.” In addition to DR, the public broadcasting license fee finances national radio channel Radio24syv, operated by publisher Berlingske Media. Commercial satellite television channel TV2 is owned by the Danish government, which intends to divest, reported mediawatch.dk (March 20), if a state-aid reimbursement question can be resolved with the European Commission.
"It is with great pleasure that we can say that the project was successful,” said DF chairperson Peter Skaarup, quoted by Jyllands-Posten (March 16). "It's fair that DR, like other state institutions, needs to be more efficient. To abolish the license has been a big wish for the Dansk Folkeparti.” The DF had asked for a 25% budget reduction for DR and is seeking its own national radio channel.
Losing this battle, DR executives put on a brave face. “It is so much money that it will have consequences for new DR productions,” said Director-General Maria Rørbye Rønn, quoted by fynes.dk (March 16). “It will be felt by listeners, readers and viewers. We are still awaiting the final media settlement before we can concretize the final savings. But we will try to implement the savings in the best and smart way.”
"People are not smiling around today,” said DR journalists union steward Henrik Wilmar, quoted by bt.dk (March 16). "For DR and our users, it's a terrible situation. It has major consequences for my members and our users. There are a lot of people who will lose their jobs.”
“It's astonishing that they start economics instead of what they want DR to do,” he continued. “It seems a little backward. It will hit the programs that Danes are really happy about.”
Earlier this month Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative put forward by populist political parties to end funding for public broadcaster SSR-SRG through the household license fee or any other public means. However, the Swiss Federal Council is putting on the pressure for major fiscal reforms.
See also in ftm Knowledge
Public Broadcasting - Arguments, Battles and Changes
Public broadcasters have - mostly - thrown off the musty stain of State broadcasting. And audiences for public channels are growing. But arguments and battles with politicians, publishers and commercial broadcasters threatens more changes. The ftm Knowledge file examines all sides. 168 pages PDF (March 2014)
Hot topics click link for more
Public broadcasting institutions are either beloved or begrudged. They do too much or too little. Theyíre either big bullies or ineffectual dwarfs. Outsiders just canít decide. And that always primes the political vacuum pump.
The great masters of television are tuning their antenna far and wide for the special chemistry appealing to viewers with shortened attention. Dark themes, quirky characters and lots of anticipation are hit combinations. Itís a great time for creative energy and no time to waste.
When public money is spent, the details reveal more than just costs. Public broadcasters quiver when asked to defend expenses as accounting alone says little about public service obligations, at times a bit transcendent. Value for money is, they say, a vastly simplistic concept. But politicians like to keep things simple.
Media in Spain - Diverse and Challenged – new
Media in Spain is steeped in tradition. yet challenged by diversity. Publishers hold great influence, broadcasters competing. New media has been slow to rise and business models for all are under stress. Rich in language and culture, Spain's media is reaching into the future and finding more than expected. 123 pages, PDF. January 2018
The Campaign Is On - Elections and Media
Elections campaigns are big media events. Candidates and issues are presented, analyzed and criticized in broadcast and print. Media is now more of a participant in elections than ever. This ftm Knowledge file reports on news coverage, advertising, endorsements and their effect on democracy at work. 84 pages. PDF (September 2017)
Fake News, Hate Speech and Propaganda
The institutional threat of fake news, hate speech and propaganda is testing the mettle of those who toil in news media. Those three related evils are not new, by any means, but taken together have put the truth and those reporting it on the back foot. Words matter. This ftm Knowledge file explores that light. 48 pages, PDF (March 2017)
More ftm Knowledge files here
Become an ftm Individual or Corporate Member to order Knowledge Files at no charge. JOIN HERE!