TVO ‘s Chief Executive Officer Lisa de Wilde  spoke yesterday at the Journalism Strategies  conference in Montreal, a two-day discussion on journalism and its role in strengthening civil society. In a session entitled “Paying the Bills”, de Wilde focused on the unique role educational media plays, the public policies that underpin TVO’s financial model and the funding challenges and opportunities in an era of declining public sector financial capacity.
“Some may question the value of public media in today’s multi-channel, multi-platform world. Are the values that public media brings to our society important enough that they have to be funded by the taxpayers?” said de Wilde. “My response is clear – Educational media is part of the intellectual infrastructure of a highly functioning democracy. High quality content that informs citizens and provides a forum for public education on the big issues of the day contributes to the social cohesion of Ontario’s democracy.”
De Wilde discussed the importance of TVO’s clearly defined educational mandate. “TVO’s mandate requires it to deliver educational content. We program content to fit a particular educational niche: Our priorities are kids, documentaries and current affairs. I believe this is an advantage in today’s multi-channel media landscape. It results in a unique offering, one that does not duplicate anything offered by private sector broadcasters. Put differently, the educational mandate is what keeps us relevant in today’s media landscape.”
De Wilde also highlighted the journalistic value of TVO’s flagship current affairs program The Agenda with Steve Paikin. “Like all of TVO, digital technology has remade The Agenda. It allows us to engage new audiences in new ways. Not only is The Agenda available in prime time on television, but it’s also a podcast and a mobile app, it’s live-streamed on TVO.org and it is blogs and social media that promote informed debate and dialogue on important public issues. Social media is transforming journalism and how we think about news and current affairs. We can connect with the TVO community with an ease that didn’t exist before – all thanks to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s now a two-way exchange which fits perfectly with our vision to empower people to be engaged citizens using media.”
A complete transcript of the remarks is available online  as a PDF.