GEO

Public service broadcaster boards − international experience

04 April, 2013

Parliament is currently discussing changes to the law on broadcasting which would result in the sacking of the current board of the Georgian Public Broadcaster, that would be replaced by a smaller Board of 9 people, appointed under new rules. Transparency International Georgia has recently suggested its own model regarding GPB’s boards’ reformation, recommending a gradual replacement and transformation.

There is no perfect international practice when it comes to the appointment and composition of a public service broadcaster’s board and management. The composition and rules governing the status of these boards largely depend on given country’s political system, structure of civil society, the history of the public broadcaster and the democratic culture in the respective country.

There are nevertheless certain values that should be reflected: the board should represent the interest of the public, i.e. the taxpayers who fund the operation of the public service broadcaster; the board thus needs to have some form of indirect or direct democratic legitimacy. Furthermore, the board should be free from any political interference. It is important that these values are reflected in the process of reforming Georgian public broadcaster.

Here are few selected models that are used in various european countries, that have fairly strong public broadcasters:

United Kingdom

The BBC Trust oversees the use of public funds by the BBC and it is the guardian of the public interest. 12 Trustees, appointed by Queen for 5-year terms. The BBC’s Board is a separate entity. The Trustees appoint the BBC’s Executive Board.

Germany

There are 9 regional public broadcasters and 2 separate national public broadcasters (ARD, ZDF)

  • Broadcasting Councils for each channel, made up of individuals from political parties of regional Parliaments and civil society groups, appoint and advise Directors General
  • Administrative councils, for financial oversight, are appointed by Broadcasting Councils

Ireland

RTE Board: 12 members, 5-year, non-rotating terms: 6 appointed by Minister of Communication, 4 by Parliament Committee on communication, 1 by RTE staff, 1 – the Director General – elected by Board

  • RTE Executive Board: 6 members, including Director-General; in charge of day-to-day management

Austria

Board of ORF has 35 members:

  • 6 appointed by the government upon nomination by parties in Parliament, in line with their strength in Parliament (every party has at least one 1 member);

  • 9 members appointed by regional governments (every region sends 1 member);

  • 9 members are selected and appointed by the government;

  • 6 members are appointed by the Audience Council, representing different civil society organizations and groups of the population;

  • 5 members are appointed by the staff. Board appoints the general director with a simple majority.

Denmark

Danish Public Broadcaster's (DK) Executive Board: 11 members, 4-year terms; Ministry of Culture appoints 3 (including the Chairman), Parliament appoints 6 (proportional to party strength), DR employees appoint 2 members

Finland

Finnish Public Broadcaster (YLE)

  • Administrative Council: 21 members with diverse professional and social backgrounds, elected by Parliament (proportional to party strength); 2 additional non-voting members elected by YLE staff

  • YLE Board of Directors: 5-8 members with diverse expertise, elected annually by Administrative Council (who may not be members of the Adm. Council nor YLE employees); decides budget and appoints managing director

Norway

Norwegian Public Broadcaster (NRK) Board: 9 members; 6 annually appointed by Ministry of Culture, 3 elected by NRK employees for 2 year terms; Director-General, appointed by Board, serves 6-year term.

Sources: Rodney Benson, Matthew Powers: "Public Media and political Independence: Lessons for the Future of Journalism from Around the World" (New York University); National laws and websites of public broadcasters.

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Author: TI Georgia
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