giovedì 21 aprile 2011

Do you really want a Flat World?

"The World is Flat" - so went the title of a very successful book by Thomas Friedman, NYT columnist, published some years ago:

What Friedman basicly was refering to, was globalisation and it's impact on commerce, trade, and on geographically dislocated production and exchange of goods and services.

"The World is flat" means to him: you can produce toilletpaper  in Cina today, and sell it in Paris, Texas tomorrow.  You need to find a restaurant in your European city, and get the information from a person working in a Banaglore Call-Center.

Anything, anywhere, for anybody, affordable at the best possible price: the idea of a flat world is intreaging, but has globalisation reached this stage? And do we actually want such a flat world?
In terms of Media production and consumption, one sometimes has a feeling that the world is indeed more and more flat: more of the same, the same more and more, anytime, at  any place.

Flattening the World is a job marvellously executed by global media players like Murdoch, Turner and others.

Take for example Endemol"an international television production and distribution company based in the Netherlands, with subsidiaries and joint ventures in 23 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Poland, Portugal, Russia, India, South Africa, Lebanon, Morocco, Philippines, Belgium, Turkey and Australia among others. It is controlled by the biggest Italian media company, Mediaset, and Endemol's co-founder John de Mol." 
(from Wikipedia

Sony International is another global player in the media industry, and Who wants to be a Millionaire is their most successful game show format. It has been produced in 80 countries around the world.

This is the  logo of the Albanian show.

Well, the Logo of the Indian version doesn't look  that different:

Search on Youtube or Dailymotion, and you will find the show in 80 different languages. But it always looks the same!

Cheap laughs for many mean a lot of money for few.

They also mean: keeping people away from information, education, and therefor away from empowerment and self-controlled living. On a global level, and increasingly also in regions where access to information and education is still a rare and expensive ressource for most of the population.

If this is mainstream media on a global level, and the type of content to be shared cross-culturally, the future will indeed be very flat.

What this shows is that commercial investors in the Media Industry do not invest their money in the production and distribution of empowering content.  Well, probalby it's because Enlightenment does not pay off in form of a cash return-on-investment.

But are we better off if a 100 percent of the world's population dreams of being a Millionaire?

If you do not answer yes to this question, maybe you share my hope that here lays the ground for saying that we need a global form of Public Service Media. In order to develop,  Global Society has to invest into a Media Framework that actually helps to develop shared standards, in respect of the diversities that are the richness of our species.

To come back to Thomas Friedman: Maybe, what we need, is not a World which has been flattened down, but raised to common heights.

venerdì 8 aprile 2011

Has Public Service Televsion still a place in a Globalising World?

This Blog is about my thoughts and concerns on the Future of Public Service Media (PSM). 

You wonder what PSM is? 

Well, supposed you are living in the richer parts of this planet, it is very likely that you have one tv-radio network (at least) of this sort in your country, in your language, targeting the people of your nation, with programmes that intend to be "informative, educational and entertaining", to say it with the BBC's mission statement from 1923.  

Such networks are payed for by every citizen through a licence fee or, in some cases,  through the state's investment of tax payers' money.

The idea of conceiving  media work as a "public service" is based on the belief that societies need such a service to fully develop their social values and democratic nature, and that a private and commercial offer could not fully achieve such a mission. "Public" in this sense means, that all parts of the society get free and unbiased access  to information, education, and entertainment. Well, that's at least the more idealistic vision on the subject...

Basicly, it means that: 
PMS stories are produced  for the countries citizens, which means for their benefits in terms of being educated, well informed and more relaxed parts of that society.
PMS stories are also about  them:  about their history, their politics, their world. 
And in a certain sense the stories told are made by the citizens, because the PSM system and governance represents the various parts and interests of society.

Post-war Germany, where no new Goebbels could come up, can be easily taken as good example for the positive impact of PMS can have on democratic and social development.

I very much believe in this idea myself, and this is one of the reasons  I have been working for PSM for more than 15 years now. 

But the first  doubt I have is this one : do we still need  PSM  in today's globalised and digitally connected world?

And the second: If the answer to the first doubt is yes, we need it, how can we make sure that PSM will be still relevant and powerful to achieve their mission?

To be or not to be, that is the question.

More to come soon.