Public Media serving in the time of a pandemic

SVT:s vd Hanna Stjärne skriver idag tillsammans med vd:ar från bland annat BBC, ZDF och France Télévisions om vikten av public service och journalistik i tider av kris. Tillsammans utgör de nybildade Global Task Force for Public Media Länk till annan webbplats., som bildats för att försvara centrala public service-värden runt om i världen. 

The year 2020 will be forever etched in our minds. No matter where we live, we share common experiences of fear, grief and the suffering that comes with uncertainty.

And yet in this time of crisis, we are seeing communities come together as never before. We are discovering an even deeper respect for our health workers and other first responders, as well as for the many unsung heroes who are putting the needs of others ahead of their own, often at considerable risk.

Rarely has the role of public service media been of greater importance than it is now. That is why we, the members of the Global Task Force for public media, would like to add our salute to the essential service being provided at this time by public broadcasters around the world. 

Our countries may differ by culture and language, but we all share the common duty to Inform, Educate and Entertain. Our engagement with audiences of all ages across a range of broadcast and online services is critical to our success in serving them whenever, wherever and however they want.

We are seeing audiences turn to public media in record numbers for the trusted news and reliable information that is our hallmark – and that has become a matter of life and death. As with all organizations, we have had to adapt to cover COVID-19 in depth. Each of us is also playing an important role for our democracies and holding our public institutions and politicians to account, to ensure there is transparency in their actions.

The Global Task Force is particularly proud of the speed with which public media across the world have responded to the challenge of supporting the education of children who are learning at home by bringing together brilliant partners from across the public and private spheres. Public service media is uniquely placed to play this role. 

Meanwhile our promise to entertain helps keep spirits up, especially among our older audiences who are the most vulnerable. We continue to support the performers and creative talent who inspire us and help define our cultures, bringing us closer in a time of social distancing.

To achieve these aims, our employees, our freelancers, our creative industry partners, and of course our private media colleagues, have shown unwavering commitment to provide essential services in these difficult times. The audio, film and television production sectors are a vital and growing part of our economies. Policy makers must take steps to protect the long-term health of this sector.

For all these reasons, we, the members of the Global Task Force, urge policy makers and politicians to support and defend the independence of public media and of journalism more broadly. Truly independent public service media has never been more precious to democracies around the world. Together, we will get through the current crisis. 

We thank you, our public, for your continued support and for inviting us into your homes and lives.                   

Signed, Global Task Force for public media                        

David Anderson, Managing Director, ABC (Australia)

Thomas Bellut, Director General, ZDF (Germany)

Delphine Ernotte Cunci, President & CEO, France Télévisions (France)

Tony Hall, Director General, BBC (United Kingdom)

Jim Mather, Chair of the Board, RNZ (New Zealand)

Hanna Stjärne, Director General SVT (Sweden)

Catherine Tait, President & CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada and GTF Chair (Canada)


The Global Task Force exists to defend the values and the interests of Public Media. The Task Force was formed to develop a consensus and single, strong voice around the issues and challenges facing public media. It offers a perspective that spans countries, languages and cultures.

Examples of Public Media serving in a time of a Pandemic:


Australian audiences have turned to the ABC as their trusted news source. In March, its unique digital audience rose 53% to 15.2 million (61% of 2+ population). Dedicated content for the crisis includes the launch of a daily podcast, Coronacast Länk till annan webbplats., which answers listeners’ questions about coronavirus or COVID-19 and breaks down the latest news and research.

The ABC has launched a $5 million Fresh Start Fund to support the sustainability of Australia’s production sector. The fund will supercharge the development of content across genres including drama, comedy, children’s, music and the arts. The ABC has also expanded its education schedule to broadcast additional curriculum-linked content to children of all ages between 10am and 3pm each weekday on ABC ME and additional online support through the ABC Education portal Länk till annan webbplats..


The BBC opened the doors to its biggest ever education offer Länk till annan webbplats., Bitesize Daily, on Monday 20 April, and the teaching roll call looks mightily impressive with familiar names including Sir David Attenborough helping youngsters to learn about the oceans. The roster offers 14 weeks of curriculum-based learning for kids throughout the UK. All elements of Bitesize Daily have been developed with teaching professionals and partners, and are delivered across the BBC’s broadcast and online services.

The Big Night In will celebrate the acts of kindness, humour and the spirit of hope and resilience that is keeping the nation going during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic with a special night of programming for BBC One. Länk till annan webbplats.  This is the first time the BBC’s biggest charitable partners, BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief, have come together. The live show features some of the country’s favourite famous faces for light relief and entertainment, while celebrating and rewarding those going the extra mile to support their communities at this time.


In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, CBC/Radio-Canada has launched several initiatives to support the Canadian creative industry including the Digital Originals funding initiative Länk till annan webbplats., in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts, and the CBC Creative Relief Fund Länk till annan webbplats. to provide immediate, urgent support to Canadian creators. Digital Originals will provide CA$1 million in funding to successful applicants to develop, create and share original or adapted works with Canadian audiences online, while the CBC Creative Relief Fund will provide CA$2 million in development and production funding for a diverse range of innovative, original Canadian storytelling.

CBC Kids News Länk till annan webbplats. and Radio-Canada MAJ Länk till annan webbplats. (Mon actualité jeunesse) invited young Canadians aged 6–13 to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. This special programming was produced in both English and French and broadcast simultaneously across CBC Länk till annan webbplats. and Radio-Canada Länk till annan webbplats. platforms. 

France Télévisions

France Télévisions mobilized all of its channels, including France 4 dedicated to youth, to ensure that children from primary to high school can continue with their schooling thanks to Lumni Länk till annan webbplats., its new educational platform.

To answer questions about the coronavirus, franceinfo launched a new initiative: #OnVousRépond Länk till annan webbplats.. With overwhelming available information on the pandemic, franceinfo continues to engage with its digital users, viewers and listeners, and provides answers to their questions about the virus and its impact on their daily lives. Every day, from 6 a.m. to midnight, franceinfo’s digital team responds to questions they receive. When needed, they also call upon doctors, experts, public authorities or other specialists to provide clear and verified answers. #OnVousRépond also provides content to franceinfo’s radio and television channels, its newscasts at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. on France 2 and its newsletter sent several times a week. 


RNZ’s daily Corona Virus podcast Länk till annan webbplats. on the Covid-19 Coronavirus is hosted by RNZ National presenter, Indira Stewart providing the latest news on the COVID-19 Coronavirus and its impact on New Zealanders. The programme shares stories from everyday Kiwis affected by the virus and uses RNZ’s own VoxPop App technology which allows direct engagement with subscribers through real time questions and answers.  After launching it went straight to #1 on the Apple Podcast charts and has stayed at #6 or higher in the weeks since. And, Apple, Spotify and others are promoting it as a trusted source of information in their Covid-19 listings.

#StandAtDawn is a partnership Länk till annan webbplats. between RSA Länk till annan webbplats. and the New Zealand Defence Force for Anzac Day. Anzac Day is one of New Zealand’s most important national events. This year, for the first time, services across New Zealand have been cancelled but New Zealanders can still pay their respects at dawn from their own homes. RNZ is partnering with the RSA and New Zealand Defence Force to broadcast a special Dawn Service encouraging everyone to stand together in their “bubbles” and take a moment to remember.


Through data journalism, SVT has visualised aspects of Covid-19 Länk till annan an interactive and comprehensible way, which has been highly appreciated by the users. Topics include the spread of the disease in Sweden and in the world, the economic effects and how social distancing works. SVT offers commercial media to use the data visualisations and broadcasts from press conferences for free.

SVT invited the whole population to an evening together with the Swedish musical elite Länk till annan webbplats.. The program, sent live from different locations and with segments from all over the country, gave an opportunity to pay tribute to some of the people helping society cope with this challenge, raise money for people who have been hit hardest and provide support and entertainment for all.


ZDF is adapting its programming continuously. An overview on the changes and special broadcasts including various extra information and interactive offers on the Corona pandemic can be accessed at ZDF web portal Länk till annan webbplats.  

One prominent example in the context of the Corona pandemic is a specific service for kids and special content offer with learning material and topics for homeschooling Länk till annan webbplats.

Links to Media Centres:

ABC Länk till annan webbplats.     BBC Länk till annan webbplats.     CBC/Radio-Canada Länk till annan webbplats.    France Télévisions Länk till annan webbplats.    RNZ Länk till annan webbplats.   SVT Länk till annan webbplats.     ZDF Länk till annan webbplats.