Well-funded and strong public service media goes hand in hand with signs of a healthy democracy according to a study by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), an alliance of public service broadcasters.

The EBU’s research has found that in countries with a strong Public Service Media (PSM) there is a:

  • high degree of press freedom
  • higher voter turnout than in other countries with weaker PSM
  • lower demand for right-wing extremism

better control of corruption

“These correlations are especially interesting given the current public debates about low participation in elections, corruption and the rise of far right politics across Europe” says Roberto Suárez Candel, head of the EBU Media Intelligence Service who conducted the research.

“A strong and well-funded Public Service Media is not only about providing people with news, documentaries and entertainment– it’s also about contributing to democracy. While we can’t say that strong public TV and radio directly leads to greater democracy and less corruption, we have been able to show, for the first time, how these factors are connected.”

The study uses data from 25 countries across Europe. The EBU drew on a number of internationally established and widely used social, political and development indicators, and statistically analysed correlations between countries’ ranks on these indices and the status of their PSM organisations. The aim was to see whether there are statistical correlations between the existence of strong PSM and social or political indicators.

Other research from the EBU’s Media Intelligence Service has revealed that (while in general trust in the media is falling) radio and TV remain the most trusted media sources for European citizens: 55 per cent say they tend to trust radio, 48 per cent say the same about TV. The written press, internet and social media record much lower levels of trust – in the case of social media only 20 per cent.

These findings also show that:

  • Trust in radio and TV is highest in Scandinavia and Estonia, while it is low in Southeast Europe
  • The written press is least trusted in Southeast Europe and UK, and most trusted in Finland, Netherlands, Albania and Portugal

Internet and Social media is trusted in Eastern Europe, but tends not to be in France, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom

The data stems from the 84th Eurobarometer survey, which has been carried out by the EBU in 33 countries.

“It doesn’t surprise us that TV and radio are the most trusted media sources”, comments Roberto Suárez Candel. “People maintain a strong relationship with radio and TV, which are still their primary sources of information and entertainment. It is also not surprising that in countries with a high level of funding for public service TV and radio there tends to be more trust in the media in general – they produce good quality content and provide valuable information for society.”

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By Expat