The relevance of public broadcasting in the digital age was one of the key issues discussed at the Public Broadcasters International conference, held in Singapore last month.

Former BBC producer and media consultant Philip Harding said in today’s world of multiple sources of information, the role of public broadcasters and its service to citizens and nationhood is even more important.

“Technology has led to the proliferation of media,” he said. “Media is becoming more customized and audiences are more atomized into smaller interest groups.”

He noted that the digital age has also led to public ‘space’ diminishing and with the proliferation of news and current affairs programmes means a viewer can now find a point of view that matches their own.

“The echo effect is very dangerous. Alternative views, beliefs and information can now be completely ignored. This is unhealthy and leads to division and polarization.”

He said this is why public broadcasting must remain not only relevant but also a strong, central and objective voice, with a national point of interest at its core. In the digital age, public broadcasting can live up to its ideals of serving the public interest and being a place where all are welcome, are equal and can make their own decisions.