Welcome to the PBI online conference 2021
VRT/RTBF – Brussels, Belgium

David Jordan, PBI Secretary-General

Public Broadcasters International (PBI) held its first annual conference in 1991 to enable public broadcasters around the world to exchange the latest information on the common challenges facing our industry. This unique opportunity for executives and professionals of the public broadcasters to gather has continued for three decades. VRT and RTBF will be hosting the PBI in 2021 for the second time, after the historic second conference in 1992. (It was the first PBI in Europe, then.) The landscape of public broadcasting is changing rapidly. You will find the conference full of fresh approaches to decision-making and many of your counterparts from other countries will become your lifelong friends.

Frederik Delaplace, CEO VRT

"We are living in times of polarisation, fragmentation and this happens while the use of media is going through revolutionary changes. In these challenging circumstances public broadcaster should more than ever make the difference with their ability to connect people, to bring them together. Hosting an event that brings public broadcasters from all over the world to Brussels gives VRT and RTBF an exceptional opportunity. At the PBI congress we can share our knowhow and learn form the best practices from our colleagues concerning technology, innovation and the power to bring people together."

Jean-Paul Philippot, CEO RTBF

"Today, the challenges for public service media are as much technological as editorial. Keeping up with fragmented expectations, pushing the limits of creativity and innovation, being visible and recognized in the digital environment: technology has become the necessary bridge between our quality content and our audiences. PBI Brussels 2021 offers a unique opportunity to share views on how best to enhance our distinctiveness in the connected society."

Speakers' Corner

Relive our PBI online conference 2021 and read/watch more

A Choice for Democracy

This session looks at the risks and challenges for public media when democratic principles like the separation of powers, constitutional rights and democracy itself are under pressure.


  • Věra Jourová, Vice-President EU
  • Debora Kayembe, Rector Edinburgh University (Human Rights and International Law)
  • Maria Esperidião, Executive manager for the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji).

Additional content

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

This chapter of the conference focuses on the issue of diversity and inclusion in public service media as a model for society due to their great outreach capacity.


  • Safia Kessas, Diversity RTBF

Additional content

Coping with Economic Pressure

A panel involving the directors of BBC, Tim Davie, and ABC, David Anderson, mediated by Sally-Ann Wilson of the Public Media Alliance.


  • Sally-Ann Wilson, CEO Public Media Alliance
  • Tim Davie, CEO BBC
  • David Anderson, CEO ABC

Additional content


This part of the conference focuses on how innovation communities/ecosystems from the cultural, media and creative industries drive innovation and digital transformation and demonstrate that they have a role to play in the digital transformation of the economy and society in Europe. This theme will bring together the Director of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Martin Kern and Rowan Conway, Head of the Mission Oriented Innovation Network (MOIN) of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP).


  • Martin Kern, Director European Institute of Innovation & Technology
  • Rowan Conway, Policy Fellow (UCLondon) Head Mission Oriented Innovation Network at IIPP (Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose)

Additional content

Facebook & Algorithms

This chapter of the programme welcomes journalist and former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger as a member of the Facebook Oversight Board and EPFL researcher Lê Nguyên Hoang.


  • Alan Rusbridger, Member Facebook Oversight Board
  • Lê Nguyên Hoang, researcher at EPFL. In this video Lê Nguyên Hoang, researcher at EPFl talks about algorithms, fake news, misleading information and the dangers they create: https://youtu.be/Dyx_sR3ZftA

Keeping contact with our Audiences

In this ever-changing society, how can public service media remain relevant to the public and respond to competition from social networking platforms that dwarf them? How can they remain attractive to young audiences and direct the flow back to our own platforms?


  • Sophia Smith Galer, journalist VICE Europe (TikTok / BBC)

Additional content

The Brussels Declaration
Making a Choice for Democracy


  • Maria Esperidião (Executive manager for the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji))
  • Catherine Tait (CEO CBC/Radio Canada)
  • Ernest Sagaga (Head Human Rights and Safety IFJ)
  • Patrick Penninckx (Head of Department Information Society / Council of Europe)
  • Jean Philip De Tender (Deputy Director General EBU)
  • Jean-Paul Philippot (CEO RTBF)
  • Frederik Delaplace (CEO VRT)

The Brussels Declaration: Standing up for Journalist Safety and Media Freedom

Violence and online harassment against media professionals are on the rise worldwide — and these attacks are disproportionately targeting women and members of under-represented groups.

This worrying trend is prompting some to self-censor or leave the profession altogether, limiting the ability of news media to properly do their jobs.

This is eroding a key foundation of any democratic society — freedom of the press.

We must reverse this trend. Public service media and their allies are joining together to protect journalists and media professionals.

Read and support the Brussels Declaration: click here

Learn more about the threats to journalists’ safety: click here

About PBI

What is Public Broadcasters International (PBI)?

Since 1990, public service broadcasting executives from around the world have met annually to share experiences and ideas about how best to deal with challenges that are unique to public service broadcasting.

Public Broadcasters International (PBI) was created on the initiative of TV Ontario and NHK, and was soon joined by many others including PBS, CBC, BBC, KBS, SVT, DR, NRK, SABC, RTÉ and France Télévisions.

Since then, more than 80 public service broadcasters – representing all continents – have become members. The annual PBI conference usually takes place in autumn and is hosted by a member broadcaster representing the different continents in rotating order. Public service broadcasters from America, Africa, Asia and Europe have subsequently hosted conferences.

Membership not only supports public service broadcasting worldwide but also entitles the member to attend the PBI Conference and guarantees access to information gathered by PBI (e.g. broadcaster profiles). It is open to broadcasters offering programming and news for all audiences and which are required, by law or charter, to serve the general public interest. PBI is a not-for-profit organisation. Membership fees help to fund each annual conference, and vary in size depending on the size of the broadcaster. Associate membership is also available.

Who takes part?

Senior executives from most of the important public service media groups and union representatives (ABU, EBU, PMA, SABA) meet during the three-day conference. The event facilitates high-level and wide-ranging debate and the development of a global network of public service broadcasting leaders.

Previous PBI conferences were hosted by public service broadcasters in the following cities

  • 2021 Brussels (Belgium) VRT/RTBF
  • 2019 Helsinki (Finland) YLE
  • 2018 Seoul (South Korea) KBS
  • 2017 Sinaia (Romania) Radio Romania
  • 2016 Montreal (Canada) CBC/Radio-Canada
  • 2015 Munich (Germany) ARD/BR
  • 2014 Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) EBC
  • 2013 Washington (US) PBS
  • 2012 London (UK) BBC
  • 2011 Singapore MediaCorp
  • 2010 Sintra (Portugal) RTP
  • 2009 Kyoto (Japan) NHK
  • 2008 Arles (France) France Télévisions
  • 2007 Seoul (South Korea) KBS
  • 2006 Maputo (Mozambique) RM, TVM
  • 2005 Oslo (Norway) NRK
  • 2004 Macao (China) TDM
  • 2003 Krakow (Poland) Polish TV
  • 2002 Hong Kong (China) RTHK
  • 2001 Toronto (Canada) TVOntario, CBC
  • 2000 Cape Town (South Africa) SABC
  • 1999 Belfast (UK) BBC
  • 1998 Biarritz (France) France Télévisions
  • 1997 Washington DC (USA) PBS
  • 1996 Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) RTM
  • 1995 Prague (Czech Republic) CTV
  • 1994 Stockholm (Sweden) SVT
  • 1992 Brussels (Belgium) BRTN
  • 1991 Toronto (Canada) TV Ontario in association with NHK

Contact information:

PBI 2022 hosted by NHK

Nippon Hoso Kyokai/Japan Broadcasting Corporation