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A common challenge exists in very different political, economic, and social contexts around the world: with a decline in advertising revenue, a rise of authoritarian governments cracking down on robust reporting, and now the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating both of these problems, how can media work in the public interest?
Enabling Media Markets to Work for Democracy has been released to explore this issue and outlines the case for, and the practical feasibility of establishing, a new International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM). The study is a summary of the results of an extensive year-long consultation process with media and media support organisations, donors, technology companies, academics, and others. It was produced by BBC’s international development charity BBC Media Action with financial support from Luminate.
An International Fund for Public Interest Media would focus mainly on resource-poor settings across the world where the economic and political challenges confronting public interest media have become overwhelming.
Such a Fund would focus mainly on resource-poor settings across the world where the economic and political challenges confronting public interest media have become overwhelming. The study sets out the proposed mission, principles, governance, structure, impact measurement, and other arrangements necessary to establish an IFPIM and is principally addressed to international development agencies, technology companies, philanthropic entities, and other parties with an interest in supporting democracy and development in such settings. It argues that an IFPIM would provide an effective and efficient way of increasing institutional support to public interest media, which today constitutes just over 0.2% of official development assistance.
Though Enabling Media Markets to Work for Democracy was prepared before COVID-19’s severe effects were felt, it further shows the need for widespread public access to trustworthy information. Without rapid, far-reaching action, it is likely this pandemic will cause a “media extinction event”; it has overlaid an acute crisis onto a chronic one, especially in lower income countries with weaker media infrastructures.
COVID-19 has overlaid an acute crisis onto a chronic one, especially in lower income countries with weaker media infrastructures.
We believe this type of Fund would solve several key problems by:
Dramatically expanding the resources available to support public interest media, especially in resource-poor settings
Significantly lowering the transaction costs of development agencies and other donors in supporting public interest media
Increasing the legitimacy of financial support provided to public interest media
Radically improving the coherence, coordination, and strategic consistency of support to public interest media
Improving the impact, impact assessment, and learning around what works and does not work in supporting public interest media.
Enabling Media Markets to Work for Democracy is one of three reports examining the proposition for an IFPIM and builds on the previous studies: a report commissioned from PwC entitled International Fund for Public Interest Media: Design Consideration for Global Funds, and The Global Forum for Media Development’s stakeholder consultation into establishing an IFPIM. We also are grateful to an informal group of advisors, including media development organisations, media funders and academics, who have been involved in the creation of this study.