Pressmeddelande 2017-01-25

Cilla Benkö´s closing speech yesterday at the Nordic Drama event at the European Parliament in Brussels

Yesterday the Nordic public service broadcasters had a joint drama event at the European Parliament in Brussels aiming to show how Nordic drama production contributes to the European cultural market. Cilla Benkö´s closing speech at the event below.

This evening we've heard some fantastic stories, I hope that you all  agree with me, about world-leading drama.

It’s a really important part of what we stand for as Nordic public service broadcasters.

Because traditionally we all play an important role in at least two areas.

Society and culture. And when it comes to culture, that means drama, but also to a great extent – of course also music.

We are creators ourselves, we contribute to our countries' cultural lives, we stand for independence and diversity... and for many in the culture sector we are a very important employer.

Public service broadcasting is a strong driver in supporting European content and thereby a strong partner of the European creative sector as a whole.

In many cases we  might  be the only client for new works and the only way that new, young talents can get their first break and the opportunity to grow – besides of course today YouTube. Public service broadcasting stands for European content, for diversity in content and for support to the creative economy.

This is a role that we  – in our small language areas – are passionate about and takes great pride in.

I would probably go so far as to say that in all of our countries, public service broadcasters provide the biggest and most important platform for culture. Different voices are seen and heard through us. And we carry these voices out to the rest of the country.

We are also part of driving the digital agenda: with our content, investments in infrastructure and continuous innovation of services.

We help to bring about important cultural experiences, entertainment and joy even for those citizens who live far away– yes in some cases, very, very far away – from a theatre or musical stage. When we broadcast a radio concert it can have hundreds of thousands of listeners. And a TV drama, as you have heard today, millions of viewers.

We are part of a change – a changing distribution environment – an all-platform approach. We continuously adapt our services. To be where the audience actually is.

But public service is also so much more than culture. 

2016 was the most intense year in terms of news for a very, very long time. A year with terrorist attacks not only  here in Brussels, but also unfortunately in for instance Nice and Berlin. Turkey was in focus after the attempted coup. A presidential election was held in the USA which made "fake news" a household phrase, and put into light the lack of a strong, independent public service broadcaster.

In the USA, a large number of citizens, particularly those outside of the major cities, were almost completely without access to impartial news reporting. They had to rely on the major networks, with clear political positions and they had to rely on highly partial political advertisement.

2016 was also the year in which the British voted for Brexit and the battle for Aleppo intensified in Syria, as did the fighting around Mosul in Iraq.

During all of these events, we as public service broadcasters have been present, in the field, broadcasting live and setting a whole range of voices in to a  context for the audience.

The audience has been able to learn the facts of what has happened, but we have also been quick to explain why things are happening, and what the consequences for the future might be.

Our news items are accurate – they are not fake - and we help the audience with the essential step of analysis. We help them to understand

– but, and this is extremely important, then they can and must form their own views. We don't tell people what they should think. Instead we help them to reach their own conclusions and to make their own informed decisions on a range of different issues. 

Our role as a trustworthy guide has been further reinforced during the past year, during 2016 I would say, both on radio and TV, digitally and via social media.

When I look back over 2016 I see a world that is increasingly divided, fragmented and polarised. There is an enormous amount of media for the audience to choose from, and it's never been easier to make one's voice heard.

At the same time it's easier than ever for citizens to enter into dialogue and debate exclusively with like-minded people. Above all on digital and social media.
Silos of opinion in our countries are a fact. We have to face that. We see societies which are increasingly polarised, which are moving apart.

Being on all relevant platforms is critical to ensure that public service content is available and findable for the audience.

When increasing numbers of people consume media on a daily basis, not only through public service broadcasters’ own platforms but also through major global and digital actors –competition for the audience's time of course increases.

Against this background, it is more important than ever that Sveriges Radio, SVT, UR, DR, YLE, RUV and NRK exist as independent, impartial voices. We should be the open arena where thousands, and thousands, of voices can be heard and where opinions can be shared and  challenged.

In many European countries, public service broadcasting is under enormous pressure. This can be for political or financial reasons – and in some cases unfortunately both. Studies show that in these countries, democracy is also affected. Citizens are less well informed and find it increasingly difficult to determine what is true and what is false.

For a country to have an effective democracy, an effective dual system is required.

Strong public service broadcasting alongside strong commercial domestic media.

Both are required. I strongly believe that.

So to protect diversity is very important.

We want to continue to develop our content and services. It would be disastrous if public service broadcasters stood still – became complacent and didn't see the need for change. This is why we are all investing in streamlining our organisations, thinking ahead and innovating. The whole time with the audience in focus.

As broadcasters, we are passionate about providing access to our content on all platforms. That makes us even more focused on ensuring that the internet remains open, reliable and provides access for our services.

We come from a free-to-air world. And are now adapting to a digital world while keeping the same critical objectives when it comes to content distribution and access.

In a world that is changing more quickly than it has for a very, very long time, where the media market is completely different today than it was just a few years ago – and where the media consumer's behaviour has significantly changed – we feel that we as public service broadcasters have an increasingly important role to play. But we must be able to reach the audience wherever they are. We must provide content that the audience will choose and we must continue to earn the audience’s trust. So that public service broadcasting can continue to provide a point of reference in an ever more complex environment.

We know what we want. We know what we can do. We welcome competition and we enjoy challenges – yes  we even, at least sometimes, enjoy the debate about our role. It shows that people care!

So please all of you, continue to support and create new opportunities for the European audiovisual sector – and for public service media - to grow!

To support a vibrant European media environment!


Thank you!

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