Over the past year I have attended the meetings of the advisory group and the workshops organized by the Television from Small Nations network to represent the Media Intelligence Service (MIS) of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).
The EBU is the world’s foremost alliance of public service media (PSM) organizations, with 73 Members in 56 countries in Europe and beyond. Its mission is to defend the interests of public service media and to promote their indispensable contribution to modern society. Its Members operate 820 television services (July 2016).
As the EBU market unit, MIS provides EBU departments and Members with reliable market data, trustworthy analysis and relevant arguments. We do so in close collaboration with our Members, including broadcasters from small nations.
Looking at television from the perspective of small nations challenges some common assumptions about how the television industry works. Many small nations’ broadcasters have small research units and the national academic communities tend to be small too. This makes their research less visible internationally so the broader international research community may not become aware of important issues.
On top of that, the workshops highlighted that, despite common concerns and practices, the small nations are very different from each other, so that there is no unique route to success: language issues, distribution networks, commissioning rules, funding levels, and the role of public service television are some of the key market elements that explain the vigour of the television industry in small nations.
This network has provided an excellent opportunity for the EBU to take part in the exchange of knowledge. It has enabled us to make our own research more visible among scholars. One of the EBU’s objectives is to make the case for PSM among many stakeholders. One group of stakeholders is scholars, which have a long tradition of critical scrutiny of PSM.
Additionally, we have learnt from the knowledge, perspectives and ideas of scholars. Being partners of this research network has enabled us to keep up to date on emerging academic research in the television production and trade sectors, especially regarding best practices and case studies that could help our Members improve their operations.
In my opinion, one of the conclusions of this year of networking is that practitioners and scholars may have similar research interests and there is potential for collaboration. But more forums like this Television from Small Nations network are needed as the output of our research is often distributed through very different, unconnected, channels: practitioners through industry conferences and internal reports; scholars through academic conferences and academic papers. Building bridges, connecting research interests and agendas, and discussing issues can be of benefit to both groups and make research more valuable to everybody.
Dr David Fernandez Quijada is Senior Media Analyst for EBU