IGF 2019 OF #29
Public Service Internet, how media could fix the cyberspace


During the last 12 months we have assisted to a wide growth of the consciouness that the idea of Internet as public space has been put at risk by the greedyness of some companies, by the mass surveillance of some governments and by the misuse by some states or by groups of pressure. Public Service Broadcasters members of the EBU in Europe (as well as their fellows in other parts of the world)have started to build new models of Internet communities based on the same values and principles of human rights that are inspiring Public Service Broadcasting since near 100 years. These principles -based on human rights- are: openness, transparence, accountability, access to culture, correct information, sustain to local contents and language, creation of communities for good and not for profit, respect of privacy, support of social cohesion, and more recently, digital literacy and fight to digital divide. During the last year many initiatives (alone and in partnerhip with other institutions) have been promoted to start to build the PSI or Public Service Internet, within our membership, but also in partnership with civil society, industry and tech community, or even promoted directly by civil society organization inspired by the Public Service model. BBC has launched the PSI (Public Service Internet) initiative. In the Netherlands has been launched the project Public Spaces, in Germany ZDF has launched a portal called ZDF Kultur common to all cultural institutions of the country and so on. Similarly, also within EBU, have been launched project Eurovox for setting standard for vocal personal assistant to guarantee pluralism; or project PEACH for algorithms of personalization and recommandation respectful of citizens' privacy; project Eurovision Social newswire to debunk fake news; project for Big Data journalism, to support initiatives of investigative journalisms that work through algorithms to chase data through big data; project Journalism Trust Initiative with RWB and UNESCO on disinformation and so on. The Open Forum PSI will be used to present some of these initiatives and to interact with other organizations with whom we are cooperating on these issues, such as UNESCO (that has just released the Indicators on the quality of Internet), Council of Europe (that is producing reports over A.I. and media), WIPO (support to protection of authors' rights and broadcasting treaty), etc.


European Broadcasting Union (EBU) - Union Européenne de Radiotélévisions



Moderators: Giacomo Mazzone (EBU) and Elena Perotti (WAN-IFRA)


Jan Kleijssen, Director of Information Society - Action against Crime, Council of Europe

Antonio Arcidiacono, Director T&I, EBU

Bill Thompson, BBC Research and Development (from remote) – responsible of the project PSI  - Public Service Internet at the BBC.

Geert Jan Bogaerts, VPRO – Public Spaces (Chairman PublicSpaces Foundation)

Stefan Müller, ZDFkultur - (HR Kultur)-
Paolo Lanteri, WIPO (Copyright Law Division )
Xianhong Hu, UNESCO (program specialist at Division of Freedom of Expression )

Online Moderator

Victor Owade, WIPO


GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

1. Key Policy Questions and Expectations

1) Which are the conditions that are indespensable for providing a "Public Service Internet (=PSI)" comparable to the standard of the existing "Public Service Media" and of Quality Journalism ? what needs to be fixed first in the current cyberspace ?

2) How could "PSI" contribute to fix the problems of polarisation and fragmentation in digital societies ?

3) How we could measure the impact of this renewed mission of PSM - Public Service Media ?

2. Summary of Issues Discussed

There was broad support by all participant about the fact that the future of Internet will have to be based on trustful relations of citizen with their on-line experience. Public Service Broadcasters have a vast experience in building these trustful relations. Three different experiences were presented in the session:  the BBC project called PSI (Public Service Internet) that will become operational on 2022, in coincidence with the 100th anniversary of the first radio broadcasting; the ZDF experience called ZDF Kultur that is offering a cultural on-line experience to German viewers; and Public Spaces, a project promoted by Dutch public broadcasters that see working hand in hand national broadcaster like VPRO and civil society organizations of any kind, with the common scope to offer to internauts a safer experience over the Internet, where all human rights are fully respected.

The three experiences of on-line public services have been complemented by the report about three experiences of standard setting about what could be considered a safe internet experience promoting public interest. Council of Europe mentioned some important recommendations that will be taken in the next months by this organization, about safety of journalists, quality journalism and pluralistic media ecosystems.

WIPO announced various initiatives aimed to make copyright and authors' rights over the Internet simpler and automatized, so that would become easier to ensure the remuneration of creators. While UNESCO presented its Universality indicators for a safer internet, that include public service offer on-line among its indicators.

EBU Technology’s Director presented some experiences of application of A.I. to the media sector, in order to overcome languages barriers and an innovative system of recommendations to viewers and listeners in order to offer them the desired programmes but without giving away in exchange personal data.

3. Policy Recommendations or Suggestions for the Way Forward

The panel agreed that Council of Europe announced recommendations could play an important role to create an healthier environment for media in the digital societies of tomorrow. and that the general adoption of UNESCO's Universality indicators across the world, could create the basis for a quality based evaluation of which are the societal needs that media in the digital era could (and have to) satisfy.  WIPO announced specific Treaties under discussions, that are all aiming to make remuneration of "rights holders" easier and more transparent and equitable (including, for instance, the Treaty of brodcasters rights over the Internet).

4. Other Initiatives Addressing the Session Issues

BBC The PSI project of BBC is currently in the development and definition phase. The full project will be deployed by 2022, when BBC will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

ZDFKultur is focusing on Culture as one of the main societal glue and involve many cultural institutions of the country, such as museum, collections and cultural centers.

It includes also some specific actions to address hate speech and misinformation over the internet.

VPRO / Public Spaces  Public Spaces is the project of creating a Public Service Internet model over the Netherlands, open to media but also to civil society community to promote diversity and social cohesion over the Internet.

5. Making Progress for Tackled Issues

The current experiments conducted by pioneering broadcasters that are trying to define how Public Service experience could be recreated in the on-line world, need to be generalized and become the norm among all Public Service Broadcasters/Media. In this sense existing barriers to the digital evolution of broadcasters into full media actors need to be removed from legislations and from regulation all across Europe. The proposal of the Dutch Public Spaces experience to deliver "badges" to services, to media and to public actors that perform in society according to certain shared ethical principles, could be a path to move in the right direction even faster than expected.

6. Estimated Participation

The room has a capacity of around 100 seats and was fully occupied. Remote participation was mainly ensured by two speakers connecting via Zoom from London and Geneva taht monopolized the line most of the time.

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

In the Berlin panel there were two women out of a total of 7 (among panelists and moderators).