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December 2003, World Electronic Media Forum, Geneva

Date : Dec. 11, World Premiere of ISAS BC 9001

Inter Media
Broadcasting: Quality Certification
Geneva, December 2003

Setting the standard

In age where institutions are increasingly distrusted, quality certification boosts confidence in broadcasters say Guillaume Chenevière and Louis Balme.

Information is a basic human right – no less than water, food, health or free speech; it is essential to social development and democracy. Media – particularly radio and televison, being the main source of information of most people around the globe – have a special responsibility to ensur that this right is fully enjoyed in the 21st century. Specifically, they must: disseminate accurate information and knowledge as widely as possible; and offer a lively social and political debate at the local, national and global levels.
The World Electronic Media Forum which gathered radio and television executives from 122 countries in Geneva last December, during the UN World Summit on the Information Society, highlighted both this central task and the many obstacles, political as well as economical, which makes it increasingly difficult to fulfil. It is thus essential for media professionals to establish and promote universal quality standards of their trade.
To meet this challenge, the independent Swiss-based Media and Society Foundation has created a voluntary certification process, presented in world premiere at the Forum. Through this process, broadcasters who want to improve their quality and image while demonstrating a commitment to social development and democracy will be able to submit their effort to an independent, neutral audit.
The Media and Society Foundation cooperated with two other organizations to develop this new international standard for broadcasting: the Canadian-based, not-for-profit World Radio and Television Council (, and ISAS (, a private standardization and accreditation body. The result is ISAS BC 9001, dedicated to radio, television and Internet broadcasting.


ISAS BC 9001 was adapted from the well-known ISO 9001 standard, which in less than 10 years has succeeded in certifying 550,000 companies, both public and private, in 160 countries, and which is now recognized as the world referencefor management systems.
In addition of being ISO 9001 compliant, ISAS BC 9001 will focus on broadcasting companies, measuring the degree to which they meet the following criteria:
• Satisfaction of viewers-listeners
• Quality and accuracy of information
• Quality and diversity of other types of programming
• Innovation and creativity
• Independence and transparency of management
• Promotion and respect for ethical rules
• Representation of national minorities
• Universal access
• Social relevance
For each these criteria ISAS BC 9001 sets specific objectives. Any broadcast organization that aims to meet these standards may apply to be audited by independent, accredited professionals. Following a successfull audit, the Media and Society Foundation will deliver a Conformity Certificate valid for three years, with an annual conformity check.


The decision to create this standard is a consequence of the WRTVC strategic plan of November 2001. Taken over in 2002 by the Media and Society Foundation in Geneva and with the financial support of the Hoso Bunka Foundation in Tokyo, Unesco, Office Fédéral de la Communication (OFCOM) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Bern, the ISAS BC 9001 standard is based on best practices in the world broadcasting industry.
A survey has been conducted in five countries (Canada, Columbia, India, South Africa and Switzerland); three working groups in each country answered the following question: “What should be the evaluate criteria of the electronic media (Radio, TV and Internet) in terms of contents, structure and infrastructure in their contribution to social development and democracy?”. The groups were: one: the Providers (radio and TV operators and professionals); two: the Users (representatives of the audience); and three: the Experts (non-providers renowned for their expertise in this field such as regulators, journalists of the written press, philosophers, sociologists, etc.)


In order to satisfy the need and expectations of all concemed stakeholders, a lot of requirements specific to the broadcasting industry have been introduced into the standard. These include:
• Independence & Transparency
• Ethics & Policies
• Proximity to Cultural Identities
• Audience Satisfaction
• Accessibility to the Media
• Innovation and Creation
Other topics have also been found significant such as:
• Quality of Infonnation
• Social Relevance
• Quality of Contents
• Diversity of Contents
• Citizen Empowerment
• Educative Mission
• Participation & Interactivity
• Pluralism
• Opening to the World
• Competence of Broadcaster Staff
• Corporate Social Investment
• Religion
• Programs Scheduling
• Quality of Equipment


The diagram shows the complexity of the broadcasting industry, giving an ideal representation of the main stakeholders with their interactions sorted in three categories: Financial flows (in green); 2- Power flows (in blue) and Feed-back loops (in red). The reality in many countries often differs from this ideal representation. The main divergences with this ideal model are:
• A strong dependency of the broadcasters on government, which represents a significant, often dominant source of financing and can exert pressure through legal and political measures, as well as through direct intervention.
• A strong dependency of the broadcasters on advertisers, which represent the other major source of financing, dominant in the private broadcasting industry.
• A weak consideration for audience satisfaction which is at the moment essentially measured in terms of quantity according to the rule: "a good program is a program watched or listened by the biggest audience". From a general point of view, the feed-back loops coming from the audience and citizens have a weak influence on the strategy of the broadcasters.
• On the contrary, other non-official feed-back loops not shown on the diagram such as the one from the advertisers and/or media owners to the Government are strongly influential. ISAS BC 9001 standard has the ambition to help broadcasters and all associated stakeholders to comply with this balanced representation of the business.


The main benefits of any ISO certification is a stronger, better managed organization: more responsive to customers, more capable of delivering quality, more reactive to change and in the long run more likely to prosper. The benefits specific to broadcasting include:
• Greater credibility with viewers, listeners thus advertisers
• Higher efficiency of investments in content
• Cost saving in production process
• Better access to sources of information
• The ability to attract and motivate high-quality journalists
• Independent recognition of the contribution to social development and democracy


The first move is the evaluation of present management systems, viewed from three separate and complementary angles:
• Efficiency and performance, focusing on the costs of quality
• Perceptions of the management system by personnel, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders
• The specific criteria of the ISAS BC 9001 standard mentioned above
On the basis of this evaluation, companies will be given detailed recommendations for improvement that should be implemented to meet the requirements of lSAS BC 9001.
We are available to help you undertake an evaluation in the most efficient and economical manner possible. Please contact us.


Heulers, Geneva
"We wanted our quality system to give us a clear vision of our systems and procedures. The quality process allowed us to present our objectives more clearly and to follow them up through quality circles,"
Denis Huron, Director General
Source Challenge Optimum S.A., Geneva

Te/eantioquia, Columbia
"ISO 9001 -2000 certification is the start of a permanent process of internal organizational self-evaluation, To become certified is to join the culture through a process and to strengthen our teamwork. It is a tool to generate trust, a letter of introduction and a way to say to our clients we are part of a nation that seeks efficiency and wants to offer-the best of public television to our television audience, our sponsors, and our contractors. "
Ana Crishna Navarro, Manager

Government of Malaysia
The Malaysian Government is convinced that ISO 9001, a universally accepted standard, can significantly improve quality, stimulate excellence in the work culture. and engender a more integrated quality management system in the public administration,
Musalmiah Bt. Haji Asli, Director of the ISO 9001 Policy and Development Division;
Source ISO Geneva

Services Industriels, Geneva
"SIG built up an intergrated Ouality-Security-Environment management system, in order to be able to confront new challenges.This system is an ideal basis for taking into account the issues of lasting development and good governance."
M. Raymond Battistella, Director General
Source Challenge Optimum S.A., Geneva