2020 PBI conference postponed
due to COVID-19

After lengthy and thoughtful consideration, VRT and RTBF decided to postpone the 2020 PBI conference, set to take place in Brussels on 23, 24 & 25 November 2020, to ensure the safety of all participants. In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious conference in November 2020 is no longer possible. New dates will be announced as soon as possible. The hosting city of this conference will remain Brussels, Belgium.

We extend our best wishes to all of you in these challenging times. We regret not having the opportunity to meet in person this year but are looking forward to meeting and inspiring eachother in Brussels next year. As 2021 is the 30th anniversary of PBI, we promise to present you with a special and festive edition of the conference!

Toshiyuki Sato, 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. We are grateful for VRT and RTBF for hosting the PBI in 2020 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 2020 offers a unique opportunity to share views on how best to enhance our distinctiveness in the connected society."

“Make the difference”


The 2020 PBI Conference, hosted by the Belgian public broadcasters VRT and RTBF, will highlight the distinctiveness of PSM (public service media) in the re-shaped media landscape, and foster its unique ability to create inclusive, local content.

Without denying the deep uncertainties facing PSM, VRT and RTBF want to give the conference a positive, optimistic tone, laying the emphasis on the high potential for differentiation rather than on alarmist talks.

The challenge will be to strike the right balance between the contribution of high-level officials (for instance from EU institutions) and more disruptive, challenging insights (from young people, artists, independent producers). The participation of an inspirational outsider could shed a new, critical light on PSM issues.


This should help trigger open debates on PSM common challenges, around three main themes: 1° audiences in their diversity (youth, elderly, etc.); 2° content (heritage, quality journalism, webcreation, etc.); 3° the need to keep up with technologies (e.g. how can data management strengthen PSM distinctiveness?).

The common understanding of these challenges can pave the way for new synergies within PBI in the fields of content, distribution and innovation (e.g. Sandbox), enhancing PSM capacity to “make it different” and “make the difference”.

Acting individually may no longer be the right way to deliver added value. PBI2020 could issue a challenge to its attendees: significantly increase the number of co-operations involving three or more PBI members.

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

  • 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

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