Amidst COVID-19 pandemic the role of Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) has once again come to the limelight. It has not only become the source of credible information but also of education and entertainment. With lockdown in place in many countries, and avalanche of misinformation, the PSBs have become the ’go-to-source’ for accurate information and voice of ‘reassurances’ in a difficult time.
It is the ‘Rebirth’ of PSBs, exclaimed the Chief Executive Officer of India’ Public Service Broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, Mr. Shashi Shekhar Vempati. The unintended affect of all this, he said, is that PSBs have become the most viewed channels and most ‘responsible’ in India. “Doordarshan is in the top of the charts in viewership,” he claimed.
“There have always been a challenge to bring back families to watch television together, which was the case in the past,” he said, adding that now, with this crisis, families are coming together, bonding together.
But, for how long, questions Dr. Kim Youngyiil, Project Manager of EBU and AIBD. After this pandemic, ‘there will be economic downturn, advertising revenue for television will go down, and as it is there is numerous challenges from private media and tech giants’, he said. “What shall we do after this- to keep our prestige,” he lamented.
Dr. Amal Punchihewa, a media consultant (engineer) and an adjunct professor based in New Zealand said the value of Public Service Media has gone up during this crisis and more efforts must be put in to remain relevant to the public. In recent years, many PSMs are focusing on education, which according to him is a good step forward. He said there should be ‘interclusion’ of services to sustain and remain relevant for many more years to come.