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Public Media Alliance turns 70

The Public Media Alliance (PMA), is the largest global organisation of public service broadcasters and it turns 70 this week. Its members include the BBC, ABC Australia, CBC-Radio Canada and broadcasters from the Pacific to southern Africa the Caribbean to Asia. More importantly, this global media organisation has just relocated its headquarters from London to offices in the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.


The Public Media Alliance was founded in 1945 and became known as the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association. Under this title, there was a focus on supporting and facilitating high standards of broadcasting for members across the Commonwealth. However, in 2014 its members unanimously decided to change the name to Public Media Alliance and broaden its scope to become a globally focussed organisation.


In the UK we tend to think of the BBC when we consider public service broadcasters and globally many broadcasters have evolved to follow the BBC model. Yet, with the emergence of new digital technologies, traditional broadcasting - such as radio and television - only forms part of the media landscape. With the growth in new media technology and an emergence of competing media outlets, we often take for granted the real value to nations of having a trusted and shared public media space….such as the BBC with all of its output and platforms.  As such, one of the key focus areas for the Public Media Alliance is to support its 102 members in 54 countries to transition digitally whilst still adhering to the core principles of public service broadcasting.


The work of the Public Media Alliance includes research, workshops and content development. Its WorldView project provides funding and support for international documentaries. Over the past 12 years they have supported more than 500 films, including the Oscar nominated ‘5 Broken Cameras’ and ‘Enemies of the People’. There is hope that this year’s nominated film, ‘Virunga’ will make it third time lucky and win the Oscar for Best Documentary on February 22nd.


The Public Media Alliance is led by former UEA and International Development student Sally-Ann Wilson, who has recently been awarded an Honorary Doctorate for ‘outstanding services to international broadcast media’ by the University of Bedfordshire.


“I’ve had links to Norwich since I was a Dev undergraduate in 1977. Since then I’ve worked in broadcasting around the world so I was immensely proud that our international Board backed the decision to relocate the organisation to Norwich and the UEA”.


The organisation has had a project base in the School of International Development for 10 years, which has enabled Sally-Ann to set-up a highly successful and unique Masters course in Media and International Development. Building on these roots, the organisation has already employed two former MA students from the course.


Speaking more about the recent move to Norwich, Sally-Ann said; “In a digital media world, international organisations can be based anywhere – we’ve recently heard of Norwich’s digital success and we want to build on that. Our move ensures a great quality of life for our team and an opportunity for us to showcase the city and the UEA to our international broadcasters. Furthermore, we look forward to engaging with local companies and organisations, having already engaged with ‘Net Matters’ in Wymondham, to support our website and IT”.


To find out more about PMA and their projects, visit