By Aneta Andonova
The role of the public service under pandemic conditions is unique and it cannot be compared to anything else. During the COVID-19 pandemic– an enigma even to the scientists – the force of the public service broadcaster defines its place in the society. It is a fact that the television’s main purpose is to inform, educate and entertain, but the society suddenly found itself in a state of emergency. The “new enemy” is not leaving. On average, we use the new term – coronavirus – a hundred times. On the other hand, no governmental measure for preventing COVID-19 would have been successful without the media. The role of the public service broadaster, in this context, is enormous, but with great power comes great responsibility to the citizens. Today, non-linear media struggle for each “click “, for more readings, for more downloads. However, this leads to information satiation, confusion and even panic. To the society, throughout the world apart from the struggle with the pandemic, a struggle for infodemic was imposed– a term established by the World Health Organization. Upon definition, infodemic is a disease that infects the information with falsehoods. During the corona, Macedonian Radio Television has taken its mission seriously.
According to the conclusions of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia (RNM), and pursuant to the recommendations and preventive measures of the Infectious Deceases Commission in conditions of global pandemic of coronavirus, MRT has established an extraordinary program scheme. A priority in the program had daily informative editions, press conferences on the Covid-19 condition and announcements of the conclusions enacted by the Government of RNM. The informative editions and the whole program are customised to all vulnerable categories of citizens. For the purpose of informing each municipality, MRT has intensified the reporting of all cities in Macedonia. The correspondence network has displayed its power.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Bureau for Development of Education, and for the purpose of non-formal education, the First program service transmitted a project called “TV classroom” every day starting from 09.10 a.m. to 12.10 p.m. This project was intended for children of preschool age as well as for elementary school students.
MRT is open to all citizens. Via e-mail address: [email protected], tv-consumers have the possibility to share their concepts, remarks and suggestions. In this way, directly or indirectly, they participate in creating an extraordinary program scheme.
Macedonian Radio Television, according to the Law on Audio and audio-visual media services, is obliged to create and broadcast programs of public interest intended for the wide population. How will you spend the quarantines and lack of cultural and sports manifestations? Starting on 8 April 2020, only 3 weeks after proclaiming the world pandemic, Macedonia was enriched with a new program service: a channel that broadcasts specialised programs for children – MRT 5.
Monitoring the opinion and reactions of the audience has imposed the need for specialized programs intended for specific audience groups. Content for children and young people is the focus for creating a program scheme for the MRT’s channel for children.
This new challenge for MRT represents a continuation of the role and impact that the educational program of Macedonian National Television (MTV) has in the formation of children’s and young people’s personalities and in developing their criteria for real values.
The contemporary approach in the selection of content that educates, informs and entertains, as well as offers all kinds of programs for children, guarantees that the channel MRT 5 will have a great number of tv-consumers of the target group.
In the period when all sports, cultural and musical events were forbidden, the public service broadcaster has taken an ambiguous venture in order to offer its audience a diverse program.
As a member of the European Broadcasting Union, MRT provided an exclusive possibility for re-transmission of the world football championships, Olympic Games, and attractive musical manifestations.
Starting the 24-hour channel in Albanian language and on MRT 4 – channel of the nationalities – MRT has completed the image of a public service broadcaster with a mission to respond to European but also national necessities.
What makes MRT different from other commercial services is universality, inclusivity, diversity, transparency and objectivism. The public broadcasting service even in extraordinary conditions creates a program that cherishes, instigates and develops each form of domestic audio-visual creation.
Main photo by Petar Avramoski on Unsplash
The Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), in partnership with UNESCO and supported by the European Union (EU), has been implementing the Building Trust in Media in South East Europe (SEE) and Turkey since 2016. In the context of a rapid digital transformation followed by a decline in the commitment to journalistic professional standards and civil society’s trust in media, the second phase of the project was launched. The role of the EJN in Phase 2 is to support the media outlets in South East Europe and Turkey to perform a self-assessment exercise of their commitment to good governance and ethical and professional standards – also called ethical audits.