In many countries, public media often make two mistakes.
They act as a megaphone for the interests of certain government causes - funding these partisan interests with public money - and they offer programming that is a "bad imitation" of commercial television.
"What happens in Latin America is that public broadcasters are financed with public funds but often communicate to promote the interest of political parties," Bucci said. "Government communication is not public communication, because the resources that fund belong to society at large." He also explained that people working in public broadcasting are convinced they work for the government, forming what he called "a very traumatic distortion."
Here are IJNet's takeaways about making quality public TV:
Offer content that commercial TV doesn't: “Public TV imitates commercial TV, its dream is to be just like it,” Bucci said. He finds that “depressing” because there's a “great opportunity” for public TV to be the complete opposite of ad-supported ventures. “We must do something completely different, but not so different that people don't understand it. We must offer programming that doesn't fit in commercial TV,” he advised.
Watch ratings: Public media should worry about having good numbers. “I’ve heard some public channels say the audience does not understand them. They are wrong. You must have original, innovative programming to win viewers,” Bucci said.
Emancipate, don't sell: Commercial media want to keep families in front of the TV hooked on programming. But public television shouldn’t do that, Bucci said. Public media should “emancipate the audience.”
Be fearless: Bucci said he knows many public professionals who are afraid of their country's leaders. He said: “That's deadly. People who work in public TV should be afraid of offending the audience, not the government,” he added.
Dialogue with society: Public media must have a dialogue with society, instead of holding a monologue. Programming should represent different points of view.
To watch the complete interview, in Spanish, click here.
CC-licensed photo, via dhammza on Flickr.