The value of public service broadcasting and public support for culture
On this important World Public Service Day, the International Arts and Entertainment Alliance (IAEA – the Global Union Federation for the Arts and Entertainment sector) reiterates the value of public support for cultural services and institutions, as well as for public service broadcasting, as a vital means to bring cultural content to the public.
Public investment in, and support for, cultural services and institutions fostering cultural traditions and allowing them to continue to flourish, develop and evolve in new directions through the creation of new works and performances. Maintaining high standards of excellence in the cultural field requires public investment to allow ambitious production. It equally creates the scope to allow the performing arts to continue to function as a cradle for experimentation, creativity and innovation, as the vital core of the cultural and creative industry sector. It is a fundamental right of citizens to have access to and to participate in the vibrant cultural life of their societies. This means maintaining a high level of quality cultural services, reflecting the cultural, linguistic, territorial differences of the country where it is made, and ensuring that accessible to all of society. Decent employment and working conditions are a vital part of ensuring that the sector will be sustainable and attractive in the long-term.
Public broadcasting has an important role in providing access and participation in public life. For many people the public service broadcaster in their country is the main source of information about politics, cultural events and wider society. UNESCO is committed to supporting and promoting public broadcasting to serve the interests of the people as citizens and not as consumers. Public service broadcasters reach much of the population and also minority groups, thus contributing to social inclusion and the improvement of civil society. Therefore, the public broadcaster should have the following functions: Universality, diversity, independence and impartiality, innovation, wide coverage, high technical quality, and high production levels. The public broadcaster should make programmes which reflect the cultural, linguistic, territorial differences of the country in which it broadcasts.
The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, argues that the signatories “may take measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within their territory”, including through actions to “provide opportunities for domestic cultural activities, goods and services among all those available within the national territory for the creation, production, dissemination, distribution and enjoyment of such domestic cultural activities, goods and services”; as well as “to promote the diversity of media, including through public service broadcasting principles” The IAEA firmly believes that these principles and their value should be strongly recalled in the context of reflection on the wider value of public services.
Public services including public service broadcasting and cultural services in many countries have suffered serious cuts as response to the financial and sovereign debt crisis. Governments and the International Monetary Fund bring about stringent austerity policies programs in many countries. The failures of the international financial markets, the key players as well as austerity policies harm employment, creativity, access to quality cultural production, cultural diversity, pluralistic information and democracy.
Therefore, the trade unions, representing workers in the arts and entertainment sector across the world, endorse the importance of public funding for culture and of public service broadcasting for democracy and for our societies. We therefore ask that all countries commit themselves to the defence of these sectors, ensuring adequate funds to fulfil the objectives that we have set out above. It must be a fundamental right of citizenship to have access to a rich and diverse cultural offers, as well as a pluralistic media with many opinions and voices. Otherwise, if these are allowed to wither away through lack of funding, we will lose an important voice in society. A plurality of voices is important for an open democratic country.
We call on the citizens of the world to:
- Resist all attempts to destroy publicly funded cultural institutions and services; public television, radio and the internet.
- Cherish and Support the cultural sector and the cultural tradition and its accessibility to all in their own country
- Cherish and Support public broadcaster in their own country and see it as a valuable service providing information and cultural entertainment for all
- Embrace and support these vital sectors
- Think that democracy is never enough. Fight for more
- Realize that every conquered democratic right is useful to the struggle for more democracy.