Organisations that do business with us want accountablity #AbuRaiDays

The ABU-Rai Days conference this week in Florence Italy heard that clients and audiences want broadcasters to be accountable for their sustainability activities.

A range of speakers across the two day conference presented various views on why and how broadcasters can become more sustainable.

Rai Sustainability ESG Deputy Director, Micol Rigo said sustainability “is a great opportunity to re-establish our role in society, in the areas of environmental, social and governance.”

“Organisations that do business with us have been urging us to be accountable for our sustainability… It is a challenge, but we need to drive the change and manage the uncertainty that will come with it. 

“A company’s responsibility is to make a profit, but what is the idea of profit? Is it just money or does it also include long term decision making for the good of the planet? This is an opportunity for us to become leaders in the area of sustainability, something that the next generation of audiences expect of us” said Rigo.

EBU Director of Legal and Policy/General Counsel, Richard Burnley quoted Leonardo Da Vinci: “People of accomplishment don’t sit back and let things happen to them. They go out and made things happen.”

“At the EBU we are trying to shape the regulations proactively within our ethical broadcast framework, not letting things happen to us from forces outside broadcasting.”

Media companies first got on board with sustainability to improve their reputation, but now they are moving from a reputation based to a legal based motivation, where they will be able to show their legal and regulatory compliance.

“We need to monitor our progress to avoid Green Washing – making false claims or claims that you can’t substantiate.”

MediaCorp Singapore’s Head, Sustainability & Lead, Production Services, James Hollis, began in his role less than a year ago without a background in sustainability. He outlined how he brought a bottom-up approach to implementing a more sustainable company culture by involving 70 volunteer employees to help drive the change. This was made through what the broadcaster describes as a AAA framework: Awareness, Action and Ambition.

  • AWARENESS: included having an understanding of business, regulatory, audience and employee expectations. The Awareness approach is driven from the bottom up. The broadcaster has also formed a sustainability council made up of heads of department so that the Content division has a commitment on sustainability.

  • ACTION: Hollis gave examples of new ways they are implementing more sustainable solutions such as solar energy to offset 6.5% of the energy consumed. Solar trees have been installed on the roof as a shared space that staff use (pictured below); virtualisation of operational servers reduces space and has less energy usage; green walls in the building make sustainability visible to staff, who can harvest the vegetables grown on the walls each week. Other initiatives include: monthly news letters, clothing drives for charity and quizzes to increase staff knowledge.

  • AMBITION: Carbon neutral targets. Expert consultants used to help broadcasters achieve their aims, because sustainability is not a broadcaster’s core business.


ABC Radio Sydney Manager, Steve Ahern is Chairman of the soon to be launched Green Ears project in Australia, which focuses on sustainability in the radio and audio industries. He outlined the commitment of all Australian audio broadcasters to support increased sustainable practices through this initiative.

Radio and Audio are the most sustainable of the media industries compared with the tv/screen, outdoor advertising and film industries, according to Ahern.

“The Green Ears project unites all sectors of audio broadcasting in Australia with the goal of improving sustainability, because audiences and advertisers are demanding accountability from their broadcasters. Taxpayers expect the national broadcasters to do their bit, advertisers are pressuring commercial broadcasters to explain their green credentials and community broadcasters are discussing sustainability from a grass roots level.”

Transmission is generally the largest contributor to emissions (Broadcast and Streaming), however Digital DAB+ transmission significantly reduces power usage with its multiple shared services on one transmitter. The next largest contributors to emissions for broadcasters are usually communications (telcos, cloud computing) and buildings.


RAI per la Sustainability ESG Director Roberto Natale, and Deputy Director, Micol Rigo explained the importance of having a top down approach to focus on the areas of Environment, Social and Governance.

The goal is for sustainability to become structural within RAI as part of redefining the role of Public Service Media. The formula to achieve this goal is content + dedicated governance +Ad-hoc Plan. An example of ESG in content is the television drama, A Place in the Sun, where one of the characters reminds the other to keep the heating temperature at home on 19 degrees.

RAI’s focus on sustainability led to organisational change. The ESG activities and milestones are being tracked carefully within the organisation as change takes place.


The learning from the Italian experience is divided into checks and balances or strengths and challenges.

  • Areas: Environment, Social (Campaigns), Governance
  • Goals: Sustainability to become structural for RAI as PSM and to redefine the role of PSM
  • How: content +Dedicated governance +AD hoc Plan
  • Need to reach wider audience and enter the programs where viewers don’t expect to find sustainability content e.g. A place in the sun e.g. dialogue
  • Vision and strategy: importance of setting goals and to measure our achievements; Nine social value are already at the core of our mission “a chance to build from where you are to make a cultural change by building our priorities, taking account of governance and what is financially possible. Importance of setting targets eg. How many more people do you wish to engage?
  • Goals were prioritised and accountability achieved my measuring the outcomes.

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