There is an ongoing, murmuring issue in health communication - do you pay for media time or not? The issues are difficult and interesting. Where do you stand and why?

In favour of paying is the argument that if you wish your media and communication products to be seen and heard, absorbed, discussed and have influence, then it is important to reach and engage the people you want through the channels and in the time slots that best meet your health communication goals. If that means, for example, paying Channel X or Radio Station Y for 30 minutes of prime time for your entertainment, news, current affairs, childrens, cartoon, music or whatever “show”, then so be it. That is just the cost of effective health communication.

The arguments against paying relate to both effective health communication and media development in a country.

From the health communication perspective, does paying for media time undermine the requirement for that health communication production to be high quality, resonant with the local context, generating of its own substantive audience and therefore attractive to the media company and possible advertisers. Those elements are a test of the relevance and quality of the health communication products themselves. Does paying undermine these elements or short-cut them in an undesirable way?

Related to media development the argument is that (a) the organizations that can pay are mainly the richer international orgs so they distort the market for local agencies and (b) rather than local media being responsive to and resonant with local and national voices, interests, themes, priorities, styles the payment process distorts and undercuts these really important elements of national media development.

1. Are there are other factors and issues at play?
2. What have you been doing and why?
3. Where do you stand on these issues?

Thanks - Warren