Version classiqueVersion mobile

Media Freedom and Pluralism

Beata Klimkiewicz

Section 3: structural regulation: media pluralism, concentration, diversity of content and services

Chapter 10. From PSB to PSM

A New Promise for Public Service Provision in the Information Society

Karol Jakubowicz

Texte intégral

10.1. Introduction

1There is no shortage of gloom-and-doom forecasts concerning the future of public service broadcasting (PSB), or rather the possibility that it may have no future. Thomass (2007) has noted that PSB is likely to celebrate its hundredth birthday in 2020, but only if it can renew itself by that time. This does not indicate great confidence in PSB’s future.

2Some of those who formulate such forecasts would indeed like to see an end to PSB. Others feel that PSB should continue but are warning that, without intervention, its future may be in jeopardy. Below are two examples of this latter approach.

3In 2002 the digital strategy Group of the Europe an Broadcasting union presented a report (digital strategy Group, 2002) in which it summarized the processes of technological and other change unfolding in the broadcasting landscape and warned:

As a consequence of the new environment, if they take no action, there is a risk that public service broadcasters will find themselves marginalized, or relegated to simply providing television services for those who cannot afford to pay TV. Public service broadcasters must rise to meet the challenges of the new environment. Their present structures will not do. They have to adapt themselves, in order to play their full and rightful part in the new media environment.

4The report notes the importance of the regulatory environment and government policy in finding an answer to the dilemmas facing PSB in the digital environment.

5In 2004 the Parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe took up this issue in its report on public service broadcasting (Council of Europe, Parliamentary assembly, 2004a) and warned, “if PSB could be prevented from modernizing, it would become a relic of the past.” The assembly recommended that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe “adopt a new major policy document on public service broadcasting” and “endeavour to ensure that the World summit on the information society gives proper recognition to public service broadcasting as an important element of developing the information society and at the same time easing the shock of rapid change that it will involve.” it also called on the governments of Member states to “reaffirm their commitment to maintaining a strong and vibrant independent public service broadcasting whilst adapting it to the requirements of the digital age” and “define an appropriate legal, institutional and financial framework for the functioning of public service broadcasting as well as its adaptation and modernisation to suit the needs of the audience and the requirements of the digital era.”

6We begin this chapter by noting that these warnings have been heeded, at least at the official Europe an level. The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers had already in 2003 adopted recommendation Rec (2003) 9 on Measures to Promote the democratic and social Contribution of digital Broadcasting (Council of Europe , Commit-tee of Ministers, 2003), in which it called on Member states to “reaffirm the remit of public service broadcasting, adapting if necessary its means to the new digital environment […] while establishing the financial, technical and other conditions that will enable it to fulfil that remit as well as possible.”

7However, the Committee of Ministers responded directly to the recommendation of the Parliamentary assembly in 2007 by adopting recommendation CM/Rec (2007) 3 on the remit of Public service Media in the information society (Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers, 2007a), with the clear intention of putting a Europe an seal of approval on a new approach to delivering public service via the electronic media. We will return to what the recommendation says later in this chapter. Here let us note a recital from the preamble of the text: “Convinced therefore that the public service remit is all the more relevant in the information society and that it can be discharged by public service organisations via diverse platforms and an offer of various services, resulting in the emergence of public service media, which, for the purpose of this recommendation, does not include print media” [emphasis added—K.J.].

8Thus the Council of Europe took the historic step of giving a new name—Public service Media (PSM) instead of Public service Broadcasting (PSB)—to what the Parliamentary assembly had called “one of the key socio-political and media institutions developed by Western Europe an democracies in the 20th century.” This act signaled that the whole concept had to be fundamentally rethought if public service provision via the electronic media was to be adapted to the new circumstances. The difference between the two terms is that while traditionally public service provision has relied on radiodiffusion technology (broadcasting), today it is branching out to encompass many more delivery platforms and so needs to be called something other than “broadcasting.” Hence the new technologically neutral term “Public service Media.” Below we will use one or the other term—depending on the context—to refer either to the old or new concept of public service provision. This does not apply to quotations where the original terminology is retained.

9The Europe an Commission’s approach to this issue has been explained by Commissioner Viviane Reding (2006). Noting that “convergence implies also new issues for public service broadcasting” and that “the most important question is to which extent the public service remit may include other services than traditional broadcasting services so that public service content is available on all platforms,” Commissioner Reding stated:

“In fact, it has been clear for us that public service broadcasters should be able to benefit from the possibilities offered by technological developments […] to comply with their public service remit and to satisfy their audiences. in this respect, online services such as video streaming or programming information appear as a continuation—in the digital environment—of the services traditionally offered by public service broadcasters in the linear (broadcasting) world. [Already the 2001 Communication on the application of state aid rules to public service broadcasting] recognised the possibility for the public service remit to include online services provided that they address the ‘same democratic, social and cultural needs of the society in question.’ [...] accordingly, public service broadcasters are, in principle, free to develop other activities than traditional broadcasting and make available sociably valuable content on other platforms. The Commission does not question such activities by public service broadcasters; however the scope and financing of such activities should be clearly defined by the Member states [emphasis added—K.J.].”

10Interestingly, the draft audiovisual Media service Without Frontiers directive also includes a recital that reads: “The resolution concerning public service broadcasting reaffirmed that the fulfilment of the public service broadcasting’s mission must continue to benefit from technological progress. The co-existence of private and public audiovisual media service providers is a feature which distinguishes the Europe an audiovisual media market.” [emphasis added—K.J.]

11Formally speaking, there was no need to include this recital in the draft directive. However, during the preparatory work on the draft, there was frequent mention of the need to ensure the continued ability of public service broadcasters to deliver their services. For example, during a meeting of the Council of the Europe an union (education, Youth and Culture) in 2002, devoted in part to revising the Television Without Frontiers directive, it was noted that interactive media offered new and interesting possibilities for many more audiovisual services to broad as well as narrow interest groups. This, some feared, would lead to “increased competition for consumers’ time and attention [resulting] in a weakening of television’s traditional role as a mediator of culture and of its ability to attract the viewers.” As a counterbalance to this potential danger, it was pointed out that much importance should be attached “to securing the raison d’etre of the public service broadcasters and their prominent position in the media landscape.” among other things, more precise demands should be made on public service broadcasters in respect of their provision of high quality, diverse content. Also, where these broadcasters receive public funding, such funding should be adequate to fulfill their public remit (European Council, 2002). The recital in the audiovisual Media service Without Frontiers directive, which emerged out of the revision process of the Television Without Frontiers directive, can thus be seen as an expression of these policy concerns.

12The Council of Europe recommendation and the EU approach can perhaps be read as ending—at least on a political level—a long Europe an debate on whether public service broadcasting can and should have a future. The answer is clearly in the affirmative. Nevertheless, the fact that Europe an governments and organizations have said so is not the end but the beginning of the road of securing that future.

10.2. Challenges facing public service media

13These challenges are numerous. They are technological, ideological, and socio-cultural, and they lead to questioning the very rationale for the continued existence of public service broadcasting. The most important challenge, however, is that of reconfiguring public service media so as to enable them to stay relevant to their audiences and to respond to audiences’ needs in ways they will recognize as useful and interesting.

14As we will argue below, some of these challenges can be turned into opportunities. Technological challenges are the most obvious ones. What the “digital revolution” means for the overall electronic media landscape is shown in Figure 10.1. It is clear that, as noted by the Council of the Europe an union, it is multiplying platforms of content delivery and by the same token intensifying competition on the market.

Figure 10.1. The new system of content and service delivery

Figure 10.1. The new system of content and service delivery

15Source: Nissen, 2006 (after Andreas Weis, ARD).

Figure 10.2. Bordejwik, van Kaam: Typology of Information Traffic

Figure 10.2. Bordejwik, van Kaam: Typology of Information Traffic

16However, that is by no means the end of the story. Digitization promotes convergence. The main features of fully developed convergent digital communication, which most likely will be the prevalent (though not the only) mode of communication in the information society, include: multimedia communication; interactivity; asynchronous communication; individualization/personalization (customization); disintermediation (elimination of intermediaries, e.g. media organizations, as anyone can offer information and other content to be directly accessed by users and receivers) and “neo-intermediation” (emergence of new intermediaries, especially on the internet, capable of offering new services or packaging content in new ways).

17These features of convergent digital communication are profoundly changing patterns of societal communication, especially mediated communication, as shown in Figure 10.2.

18Traditional public service broadcasting has always represented the allocutory model, i.e. “push” technology (linear communication: “take what you are given, when it is available”). With digitalization and convergence, media can combine mass with interpersonal communication, and “pull” technology (non-linear, on-demand, interactive communication and access to multimedia content, i.e., “take what you want, when you want it”) will account for more and more of media consumption. What we are seeing today is “the mediatization of the internet and internetization of the mass media” (Fortunati, 2005; see also Henten and Tadayoni, 2002). if it continues, this process will in time take us to the promised land of “anyone, anything, anytime, anywhere” (when anyone can have access from any place and at any time to everyone else and to all existing content stored in electronic memory). This would revolutionize social communication by undermining the media institutions of today and replacing them with thousands of internet content providers. By the same token, traditional media institutions, including public service ones, would be gone.

19It is hard to predict at this stage whether, and if so, how soon, this could happen. For the time being, it is assumed that linear content delivery will continue in the foreseeable future. If so, PSM has a chance of surviving, though of course much will have to change. if not, however, there would still be a need for public service content in an environment of non-linear media only, but the production and distribution of such content would have to be organized in a different way.

20As mentioned before, the challenges facing public service media are not just technological. The very rationale for their continued existence is questioned. Social change since the 1920s, when PSB was first created, has been so extensive and profound that “adaptation to the digital environment” is only part of the program of change that PSB must undergo. It must also be adapted to a new social, cultural, and ideological/axiological environment. This is what the Parliamentary assembly (2004a) meant when it said in its report: “a debate about public service broadcasting (PSB) is in reality a debate about the philosophical, ideological and cultural underpinnings of society and about the role of the state and the public sector in meeting the needs of individuals and society as a whole. This, rather than technological developments, may be the decisive factor in determining the future of PSB” (Council of Europe, Parliamentary assembly, 2004a).

21The original paternalistic intent behind the creation of PSB lost its relevance long ago. The later social-democratic concern for the “communication welfare” of every citizen, characteristic of the public service orientation of media policy up until the 1980s (van Cuilenburg and McQuail, 2003) retains some validity, but can by itself no longer serve as a sufficiently convincing rationale for the continued existence of public service provision via the electronic media.

22Despite the recent developments at the Council of Europe and the Europe an union mentioned above, there are still strong currents of opinion that there is no longer any real need for PSM. Here we can speak of ideological challenges to PSM.

23One of them is a neoliberal approach. “neoliberalism” refers to the economic, political, and cultural practices that give primacy to the market order where profit and consumption are the defining factors of reality—a reality where corporate greed is given primacy over collective good (Gounari, 2006). it is based on the view is that the proper mechanism for the satisfaction of individual and social needs is the market where required goods or services can be purchased. The law of supply and demand, together with the profit motive, will ensure provision of these goods and services. Accordingly, state or public sector involvement in meeting these needs is unnecessary and unwelcome. This, when taken to its extreme, is a recipe for the elimination of PSB/PSM.

24Another approach is that the market should indeed predominate, but since it does not meet every need, there is room for the public sector to supplement what the market has to offer. According to this market-failure rationale for PSM, what is needed is “pure PSB” as a niche broadcaster, offering only broadcast content and services that private broadcasters find commercially unrewarding. This line of reasoning is represented by the commercial sector, which, for competitive reasons of its own, is pursuing a number of strategies to limit the harm to its interests caused by the operation of PSM organizations:

  1. An “arrested PSB evolution” strategy (ultimately leading to the marginalization and obsolescence of PSB, culminating in its disappearance), comprising:

  1. A “semantic” strategy, arguing that public service broadcasting should remain precisely that, broadcasting, and PSB organizations should not be allowed to move into the new technologies (seen by commercial broadcasters as their next frontier and growth area, where they would like to see as little competition as possible);

  2. A “clear and precise definition of the remit” strategy, designed to obtain a detailed legal definition of PSB in its traditional form (generalist, universally accessible broadcast channels) which could then be used to block any change of the remit and means of delivering it (e.g. move into thematic channels, use of new technologies which may not be immediately accessible to all, and would in any case be used only by a part of the audience);

  1. A “harmless PSB” strategy, comprising:

  1. Demands that PSB be reduced to redressing market failure by providing programming commercial broadcasters find unattractive, and thus turn into a niche broadcaster;

  2. Demands that PSB be prevented from running advertising;

  3. Demands that production of “PSB content” be financed by a special fund and commissioned from all comers, so PSB organizations do not monopolize funds or production capacity;

  1. And a “PSB no longer needed” strategy, following on from the previous one, based on the argument that so much “PSB content” can be found in the programming of commercial broadcasters, or is/can be produced by others, that PSB organizations as such are no longer necessary for the audience to have access to it.

25That these strategies are being pursued quite aggressively is shown by the approximately 30 complaints lodged with the Europe an Commission by the private sector (Mortensen, 2005, 2006; Ward, 2002, 2003), questioning any new development in PSB, whether in terms of program profiles of particular services or of technology, going beyond the 1960s model of “one-size-fits-all” traditional generalist channels addressed to the entire population of a country. This, then, is clearly an attrition war on PSB/PSM, seeking to marginalize it. This could ultimately lead to the elimination of PSB/PSM, first as a force to reckon with on the broadcasting scene, but eventually as a sector of the media in its own right. Simply put, public service broadcasters, prevented from branching out into the new technologies, and confined to a narrow range of content, would over time become so technologically outdated and so out of touch with their public that there would be no further need for them.

26This kind of approach also finds expression in the policies of some governments. They behave as if swayed by the view that PSB/PSM is an anomaly on the broadcasting scene that needs to be boxed in with legislation. They impose remits and accountability systems to make it justify its continued existence (Jakubowicz, 2003a; 2003b). Another manifestation of this approach is the EU policy of viewing PSM primarily as a matter of competition policy, with little concern for its intrinsic values and contribution to society (Jakubowicz, 2004).

27There is, however, yet another challenge to PSM that can be called socio-cultural. It arises out of societal and axiological change that has also affected the general public’s approach to this institution. it can lead either to questioning the need for PSB or to an expectation of fundamental change in its relations with the public.

28To begin with the first strand, Van den Bulck (2001, p. 54) has called PSB, when it was created, “a typical modernist project of the cultural elite.” PSB in general is rooted in the Modern Project, and thus in the age of enlightenment, which saw the intellectual maturation of the humanist belief in reason as the supreme guiding principle in the affairs of humankind. The belief was that the “truth” thus revealed could be applied in the political and social spheres to “correct” problems and “improve” the political and social condition of humankind, and thus create a new and better society. At the root of this thinking is the belief in the perfectibility of humankind. These could be described as the philosophical underpinnings of the concept of public service broadcasting and its Reithian ethos.

29Today, we live in a time of post-modernity. As noted by Bauman (2000), post-modernity has many discontents, not least its “liquidity,” in which nothing is certain. Clearly, then, the old certainties and clarity of vision regarding the role of PSB as a paternalistic organization, aspiring to a normative role in social life and to the enlightenment of the uneducated majority, are gone. Nothing equally convincing (and comforting, as far as the sense of mission and self-definition of PSB broadcasters themselves is concerned) has replaced that concept. It is no wonder that the “PSB remit” is the subject of so much heated debate today, and the concept still eludes clear definition.

30Moreover, as noted by Blumler (1998), ideological and cultural change unfolding in developed societies has involved individualization, consumerism, privatization, and anti-authoritarianism. This may rein-force impatience with the normative role of PSB and its aspiration to represent, but also perhaps to define, the public interest.

31In addition, the original model of PSB was based on unequal, asymmetrical relations between the audience on the one hand, and broadcasters, cultural elite and the state on the other (Scannell, 1989, pp. 163–164). Scannell argues further that PSB, despite its “fundamentally democratic thrust” (in that it made available to all virtually the whole spectrum of public life and extended the universe of discourse, and was originally designed to introduce social equality in access to information and all other content), has been a system of representative communicative democracy, where power accrued “to the representatives, not those whom they represent.” That was legitimated by social divisions and stratification at the time. since then, the leveling of living and educational standards as well as democratization have led to the rejection of such asymmetrical relations. Scannell’s comment— “The sense that the BBC is part of the world of ‘them’ rather than ‘us’—a world that is somewhere else than where listeners and viewers are—has persisted until this day” (Scannell, 1996, p. 27)—can apply to many other PSB organizations as well. This aspect of the socio-cultural process may thus contribute to questioning the rationale for PSB.

  • 1 See O’Reilly, T. (2005) What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generatio (...)
  • 2 Stark, E. (2006) Free Culture and the Internet: A New Semiotic Democracy (http://www.opendemocracy. (...)

32In the second of its dimensions, the socio-cultural process calls instead for a far-reaching change in relations between the PSM organizations and their public. This is due to developments in social communication resulting from its evolution away from “allocution” and towards “conversation.” The well-known phenomenon of Web 2.0 is based on an implicit “architecture of participation,” a built-in ethic of cooperation, in which the service acts primarily as an intelligent broker, connecting the edges to each other and harnessing the power of the users themselves.1All this, says stark,2amounts to a revolution based on a simple concept: semiotic democracy, or the ability of users to produce and disseminate new creations and to take part in public cultural discourse. Users are by and large developing and posting their own original creations. Anyone can now become a creator, a publisher, or an author via this new form of cultural discourse, a platform to publish to the world at large that grants near-instant publication and access. What is emerging is “a digital commons,” also known by other names, e.g. “information commons” (Kranich, 2004). Hence the explosion of user- or community-generated content, or user-created content (Wunsch-Vincent and Vickery, 2007).

33This phenomenon provides a twist on the commercial sector’s “PSB no longer needed” argument. It is pointed out that a great deal of socially useful and high-quality content is now provided by government services, educational institutions, cultural institutions, and various groups and communities. Moreover, it is argued (Chitty, 2007, p. 28) that there is “a thriving creative community of independent production companies, interactive writers and digital artists, web-enabled public organisations and design agencies” and that they now “employ more people than the broadcast TV sector.” The implication, therefore, is that PSM is being replaced, if not wholly then at least partly, by other sources of socially valuable and high-quality content, especially in the online environment.

34The nature of this new stage in the evolution of mediated social communication is summed up by Küng’s (2002) comparison of old and new media content.

Table 10.1. “Old” and “new” assumptions about the nature and strategic significance of content

Table 10.1. “Old” and “new” assumptions about the nature and strategic significance of content

35Source: Adapted from Küng, 2002.

36If it is true that the customer is (or will increasingly be) in the driver’s seat and that we are seeing the end of “journalist knows best,” then if PSM does not want to be laid to rest, it must completely redesign its relationships with what used to be regarded as an “audience” and may now need to be defined as a community of users and contributors.

37For all the above reasons, change must encompass practically every area of PSM activity. What will, however, be decisive is a new understanding of public service media’s approach to, and relationship with, the public.

10.3. Facing the challenges

10.3.1. Is there continued need for PSB/PSM?

38It is often argued that since commercial media and the new technologies are offering unlimited choice, there is no longer any need for the delivery of public service programming. The Council of Europe responds to this argument in its recommendation by noting that “growing competition in broadcasting makes it more difficult for many commercial broadcasters to maintain the public value of their programming, especially in their free-to-air services.” a similar concern, as we have seen, has also been voiced within the EU. The Council of Europe also noted that “globalisation and international integration, as well as the growing horizontal and vertical concentration of privately-owned media at the national and international levels, have far-reaching effects for states and their media systems” (Council of Europe , Committee of Ministers, 2007a).

39The British regulatory authority Ofcom (2004, p. 33) has also noted that after the completion of the digital switchover, there will be a period of “declining PSB obligations” for what are known in the united Kingdom as “commercial public service broadcasters,” as they will no longer be able to afford financing “challenging PSB programming.”

40Thus growing competition on the audiovisual market is a challenge that can be turned into an opportunity for PSM. If, because of growing competition, commercial media—in order to maximize their advertising potential—reduce high-quality and demanding programming, then the need for PSM will grow. This would be all the more true if Norris and Pauling (2005) are right that two key elements of PSM, but also commercial media so far, may in the future be threatened in the commercial sector:

  • free-to-air programming, as more and more attractive content is offered via subscription-based or on-demand services;

  • local, domestically produced content, due to the globalization of television and the inability of local television, especially in smaller countries, to compete with international channels (though let us note that the Europe an quota system will partly counteract this threat in EU countries).

41Any changes in the television offer complying with this forecast will certainly argue in favor of retaining and developing PSM, as the last mainstay of both free-to-air programming and local content.

42In addition, Norris and Pauling (2005) sum up the impact of the digital age on the principles of public broadcasting:

  • Digital is dominated by pay: The vision of digitopia is a vision of a subscriber-based world, where viewers pay for their programming, with contrast to the public broadcasting principle that programming is universally available and free to all at the point of use;

  • Range and balance may not be achieved: There can be no guarantee that subscription channels will provide a full range of programming across all genres and subgenres.

  • Digital is dominated by global forces: the most successful pay channels are transnational or global. In most English-language countries outside the United States, the majority of pay channels will be American;

  • The pay TV and global environment does not meet the cultural requirements of public broadcasting;

  • Pay TV does not meet the democratic requirements of public broadcasting. It will not provide news, information, and opinion for the domestic audience. Most importantly, it cannot provide the public space for public discourse;

  • People in multi-channel homes with more choice are watching fewer “highbrow” programs than their counterparts in analog homes— programs in news, current affairs, other nonfiction, and the arts.

43Therefore, the authors say, the inevitable conclusion is that the requirements of public broadcasting in the digital age must continue to be met by the free-to-air broadcasters or new forms of content suppliers, as the pay TV or on-demand environment is clearly inadequate.

44The challenge to public broadcasters must be to maintain their audiences and their impact. There is also the question of how to safeguard the public sphere in the era of on-demand. To meet these challenges may require new approaches to both content and audiences.

10.3.2. Technology

45As shown by the digital strategy Group (2002) report, public service broadcasters have long known that the traditional model of public service delivered solely via broadcasting is no longer tenable. BBC director-General Mark Thompson made this very clear when he said that the BBC should no longer think of itself as a broadcaster of TV and radio and some new media on the side. “We should,” he said, “aim to deliver public service content to our audiences in whatever media and on whatever device makes sense for them, whether they are at home or on the move. We can deliver much more public value when we think across all platforms and consider how audiences can find our best content, content that’s more relevant, more useful and more valuable to them… This new digital world is a better world for public service content than the old one” (BBC, 2006; emphasis added).

46The Council of Europe and EU documents cited earlier might suggest that political resistance to the extension of PSM to new platforms has now been overcome. This is certainly true as far as the Council of Europe is concerned. in the words of the already cited recommendation (Council of Europe , Committee of Ministers, 2007a), the public service remit “should be performed with the use of state-of-the-art technology appropriate for the purpose.” on the other hand, it remains to be seen how the issue will be treated by the Europe an Commission’s Competition DG. As Moe (2006) showed for the example of the Commission’s handling of complaints against on-line activities by British, German and Norwegian PSM organizations, in the past, it has had a very restrictive approach to such services. It sought to assign public broadcasters a supplementary role in the on-line environment. It expected PSM online services to be notably different from existing commercial ones and not to compete with them, nor undermine their market position or potential. Finally, it thought they should only accompany or support broadcast programs and not constitute an autonomous service, designed to serve internet users in the same way as broadcast programs serve the audience. other arguments used by the Competition DG with regard to online activities of PSM organizations have been that these services do not differ from similar commercial products; they are offered by other commercial operators; they are provided for remuneration; they address the individual needs of the specific user; they are information society services, not broadcasting; they are offered on individual demand; and they do not address the democratic, social and cultural needs of society (Mortensen, 2006).

47For these reasons we have emphasized the words “in principle” in the statement of Commissioner Reding (2006) cited above (“public service broadcasters are, in principle, free to develop other activities than traditional broadcasting and make available sociably valuable content on other platforms”). It remains to be seen what this means in practice and whether there will not be further Europe an Commission objections to free use of other platforms by PSM organizations in Member states.

48In any case, it is already clear, from what we have said so far, that PSM should go the way suggested by Wiio (2004) and offer three types and levels of services:

  • Traditional linear program services for the general public. These services will likely remain the core of public service television services in the foreseeable future. The services for large audiences can include program-specific interactivity or items whose reception calls for active involvement by the recipient.

  • Linear (“thematic”) services targeted at special audiences. The level of interactivity of services for special audiences ought to be higher than it is in the case of services targeted at the general public. As their name would suggest, the audiences gained by these channels are smaller than the audiences for the traditional basic channels.

  • Personal services, performing what is known as “personalized public service.” Central to these services is strong interactivity. These personalized public services can be program-linked, or pro-gram-independent, providing value-added services. Some examples of program-linked services are provided in Table 2.

Table 10.2. Extending public service TV and radio with new media

Table 10.2. Extending public service TV and radio with new media

49Source: Nissen, 2006.

50There are, however, also other examples of the creative use of new technologies by public service broadcasters. The BBC allows audiences to create personal radio stations from its content. The service called MyBBCradio uses a BBC iPlayer that combines existing online radio services, along with radio on demand, to allow the audience greater flexibility and choice over when it can view or listen to shows.

51Another example is provided by podcasting, offered by both public and commercial broadcasters, especially for news and interview shows. Indeed, as Tambini (2006, p. 116) has pointed out, “radio is far ahead of television in terms of the development of on-demand online services.”

52In Australia it has been announced that once digital radio is launched, listeners may be able to download music tracks from radio stations, buying tracks in real time over special mobile phone handsets. Generally speaking, such technologies offer an opportunity to transform the relationship with audiences and to promote greater interaction between audiences and programs before, during, and after transmission. Speaking of the BBC’s plans in this regard, nelson and Friend (2007) note that BBC content should be seeded across the internet and as many platforms as possible. “We must seed content where audiences hang out, e.g. Facebook and Myspace, and let BBC content be embedded across the web,” they note. Audiences are no longer passive recipients but are taking advantage of increasing opportunities for interactivity and a two-way relationship with broadcasters. “This interactivity,” they point out, “is central to the development of BBC Web 2.0.”

53Figure 10.3 illustrates the opportunities offered by digital technology for achieving the kind of relationship with audience the BBC wants to achieve, so that the audience can:

  • Find content (Discover, Access),

  • Play with it (Engage, Explore), and

  • Share it with others (Participate, Create).

  • 3 Friday Night with Jonathan Ross is a television chat show on BBC one. The program features Ross’s v (...)

Figure 10.3. Find, Play and Share on the example of “Friday Night3 with Jonathan Ross”

Figure 10.3. Find, Play and Share on the example of “Friday Night3 with Jonathan Ross”

54Source: Nelson, Friend, 2007.

55All this raises important issues concerning the fundamental features of PSB as traditionally understood. The use of thematic services, and even more so of personalized ones, can be seen as undercutting what has always been regarded as a distinguishing element of PSB, namely, universality of content and access.

56Universality in this sense was a requirement of the early phase of PSB development, a time of “an economy of scarcity” in broadcasting, when universal service provision via the PSB was the only appropriate solution. Today, audiences are signaling by their user behavior that in addition to generalist services, they also want more and more thematic and personalized/individualized content. This is why, in its 2002 report “Media with a Purpose: Public service Broadcasting in the digital era,” the EBU’s digital strategy Group called for a redefinition of basic concepts relating to public service broadcasting, including universality of access and content.

57Universality of content can no longer be understood as one-size-fits-all programming on one or more broadcast channels, but as both universality of basic supply on generalist channels (including mass-appeal, entertainment programming), which will be central to what public service broadcasters offer to the public, and universality across the full portfolio of services, some of them specialized or tailored for specific audiences, adding up to a more extended and comprehensive range of services.

58universality of access can no longer be understood as a couple of terrestrial channels available to the entire population, but as presence on all relevant media and platforms with significant penetration, as well as the ability to deliver a “personalized public service” in the “pull,” online and on-demand environment (see digital strategy Group, 2002). The question, of course, is what is meant by “relevant media platforms”? “Relevance” should no longer be tied to the ability to perform a universal service or to the size of the audience. Instead it should be tied to the ability to perform the service needed by the audience, in ways the audience expects to be served.

10.3.3. Redefining the remit

59In its recommendation, the Council of Europe called on Member states to “maintain the key elements underpinning the traditional public service remit, while adjusting it to new circumstances.” The Council states, with reference to its many documents on the subject, that PSM should serve as:

  1. a reference point for all members of the public, offering universal access;

  2. a factor for social cohesion and integration of all individuals, groups, and communities;

  3. a source of impartial and independent information and comment, and of innovative and varied content that complies with high ethical and quality standards;

  4. a forum for pluralistic public discussion and a means of promoting broader democratic participation of individuals;

  5. an active contributor to audiovisual creation and production and greater appreciation and dissemination of the diversity of national and Europe an cultural heritage (Council of Europe , Commit-tee of Ministers, 2003)

60This last point is underscored also by Hujanen (2002), who believes that in order to survive in the digital media environment, PSM must retain—and indeed concentrate on—its role as a content producer and provider.

61While there are many new elements in the Council of Europe approach, full “adjustment to new circumstances” requires more far-reaching changes. As shown by Nissen (2006), the traditional PSB remit is challenged by the following trends:

  • traditional mainstream PSB programming for a mass audience fails to meet the individual needs of the audience;

  • internationalization and globalization require a response in PSM programming;

  • disintermediation, fragmentation, and individualization of society and audience needs and interests must also be taken into consideration when designing the PSM program offer.

62Nissen has therefore offered the following view of how the remit should be adjusted to these circumstances. This figure confirms what we have said about the use of technology (general, thematic, and personalized services) and points to the functions that PSM should perform. To continue this line of thinking, let us look in more detail at particular areas of the programming obligations of PSM organizations. It seems clear that while the traditional remit remains valid, the new situation also requires that PSM organizations undertake new tasks.

Figure 10.4. PSM obligations—their background and consequences

Figure 10.4. PSM obligations—their background and consequences

63Source: Nissen, 2006, p. 21.

64When we consider the tasks of PSM in relation to political citizenship and democracy, we must remember that with globalization and international integration, the political process no longer happens only at the national level (for a more extensive discussion of globalization, democracy, and the public sphere, see Jakubowicz, 2005). Therefore, public service media have additional obligations to their audiences, if the audiences are to be capable of following events at the international level and form an opinion on policies that their representatives are involved in developing in international organizations. At a minimum, these obligations are:

  1. Inform citizens of the work of international organizations;

  2. Contribute to creating a public sphere and elements of a civil society at the regional, continental, and global levels;

  3. Serve as a watchdog of international and global organizations;

  4. Develop social capital and a sense of community and co-responsibility for the nation-state at a time when cyberspace allows individuals to participate in virtual communities and become detached from their own societies and nations.

65The cultural obligations of PSM are also fundamentally affected both by the process of globalization and international integration and by the increasingly multicultural and multi-ethnic composition of particular societies (for more on this, see Jakubowicz, 2006a). Therefore, to be relevant in this situation, PSM should undertake new tasks, including:

  1. Serving minorities and immigrant communities in a way that satisfies their cultural and linguistic needs, but does not prevent their integration with the rest of the population;

  2. Creating a sense of affinity and understanding with the people of other countries in the region, especially if the country in question is involved in some international integration scheme;

  3. Promoting intercultural and inter-religious dialogue at home and internationally;

  4. Promoting acceptance of, and respect for, cultural diversity, while at the same time introducing the audience to the cultures of other peoples around the world;

  5. Striving to prevent, or reduce, the digital divide, so that no one is prevented from access to culture via the new technologies.

66Another field in need of re-examination is the educational tasks of PSM. new skills are needed in new social, economic, cultural, and technological circumstances. The Europe an Commission (2005f) has proposed the following list of key competences for lifelong learning: communication in the mother tongue; communication in foreign languages; mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology; digital competence; learning to learn; interpersonal, intercultural, and social competences and civic competence; entrepreneurship; and cultural expression. Tapio Varis (2005), for his part, has proposed a different list of “new literacies”:

  • Technology literacy: The ability to use new media such as the internet to access and communicate information effectively;

  • Information literacy: The ability to gather, organize, and evaluate information, and to form valid opinions based on the results;

  • Media Creativity: The growing capacity of citizens everywhere to produce and distribute content to audiences of all sizes;

  • Global literacy: understanding the interdependence among people and nations and having the ability to interact and collaborate successfully across cultures;

  • Literacy with responsibility: The competence to consider the social consequences of media from the standpoint of safety, privacy, and other issues.

67Accordingly, PSM should reorient their educational role in order to:

  1. Contribute to life-long learning systems;

  2. Contribute to e-learning;

  3. Adjust educational content to the requirements of the 21st century.

68While promotion of social cohesion and national integration have always been a primary task of public service broadcasting, today the issue has a new and important dimension in the form of the digital divide and digital exclusion. Public service media should, therefore, be at the forefront of the digital switchover (Iosifides, 2007, p. 17, confirms that they play a “pivotal role in accelerating the take-up of digital services”). They should contribute to the promotion of digital inclusion by being available and offering attractive content on all relevant platforms and:

  1. developing strong and recognizable program and institutional brands, serving as a beacon for people among the multitude of new content providers;

  2. being available on all digital platforms, and thus attracting people to gain access to them;

  3. supporting traditional broadcasting content with internet and interactive resources;

  4. providing multimedia interactive services, independent and complimentary Web services;

  5. serving as a trusted third party, a reliable and trustworthy guide to content in the online world;

  6. actively promoting digital media literacy and awareness of the tools of the information society, in particular the use of the internet;

  7. providing content in local and minority languages in order to encourage minorities to use the tools of the information society, as well as for groups neglected by commercial content providers;

  8. promoting open standards in API, CA/CI, etc.

69Finally, PSM organizations should think of themselves not just as media, but as full-fledged cultural industries (Hesmondhalgh, 2005), capable of operating on the audiovisual market and contributing to its development. Their tasks as cultural industries include the following:

  1. Promote domestic audiovisual production by maintaining a high share of original domestic works in air time;

  2. Make optimal use of audiovisual archives by launching new channels—alone or in collaboration with other partners, as well as other program and content services, e.g. VOD (see Tambini, 2006);

  3. Promote the growth of the program industry by:

  1. Commissioning production of radio, television, and internet content from independent producers;

  2. establishing terms of trade with independent producers so that they can retain some rights and exploit them to gain an additional revenue stream, enabling them to develop their production facilities and finance new production;

  1. Promote the development of audiovisual culture and production in the country as a whole by:

  1. Maintaining local or regional stations or production centers;

  2. Commissioning production from independent producers throughout the country;

  1. Continuous training of staff;

  2. Financing research and development to promote technological progress in broadcasting and multimedia;

  3. active involvement in all elements of the digital switchover;

  4. development of revenue streams from market activities (other than selling advertising time) in order to reduce dependence on license fee revenue and to avoid or minimize the need to raise the fee;

  5. Cooperation with private companies, but without putting non-commercial program goals at risk;

  6. respect for the rules of competition and fair trading, as well as state aid regulations;

  7. Providing value for money, high economic effectiveness and careful use of public funds.

10.3.4. Public service content without public service institutions?

70We have seen that the “PSB no longer needed” strategy of the commercial sector is based on the argument that so much “PSB content” can be found in the programming of commercial broadcasters, or is/ can be produced by others, that PSB organizations as such are no longer necessary for the audience to have access to it. Proponents of this view propose a system of “contestable funding,” whereby anyone can complete for such funding in order to produce and broadcast or otherwise distribute high-quality “PSM content.”

71There are a few isolated cases of such situations. In Navarra, Spain, the authorities of the small autonomous community cannot, unlike those of the bigger ones, establish their own regional public service broadcasters. So instead they organize public tenders to promote local audiovisual production, so that regional and local radio and television stations offer public service content (Mora-Figueroa, 2007). Of course, the inhabitants of Navarra can receive the programming of the national Spanish public service broadcaster, RTVE.

72Despite this experience, the idea is kept very much alive (see e.g. Giles, 2006), taking the form of proposals either to dismantle PSM altogether, or to retain PSM institutions, but deprive them of any security or guarantee of survival, by forcing them to compete for money and the right to exist (with the possibility that if they lose the competition, they will disappear).

73It is hard to see, however, how any of these solutions could serve to implement the many vital functions of PSM listed above. in fact, the ability of the BBC to take the lead in developing a new concept of what PSM should be about in the 21st century (BBC, 2004, p. 2006), and in using the new technologies to deliver its public service content, de-rives in large measure from its size, capacity, and funding as an institution able to think strategically and long-term. It was also the BBC that took the lead in the introduction of digital terrestrial television, after the debacle of ITV digital, a commercial company.

74Philip Schlesinger (2004, passim) is not in doubt about the need to preserve PSM institutions as such. He makes these points:

“There are some strong arguments for taking broadcasting institutions seriously. For instance, they constitute and sustain creative clusters. They socialize personnel and may allow some space for thinking beyond the next project. Critical mass in institutional terms may allow resistance to external pressures. Public funding in particular allows the scope for the pursuit of goals that are not totally subordinate to market logic.”

75A different set of issues concerning the institutional framework of PSM arises in the context of technological change and digitalization. As noted by the digital strategy Group (2002), with new program content, new production infrastructure, new workflows, and a different environment, public broadcasters must also re-evaluate their organizational structures and consider changes. Public service broadcasters need to reorganize themselves to suit the emerging environment and new ways of working in the production. This includes the growing use of multimedia for accompanying content or separate Web services, the probable migration of PSM radio and television services to a greater plurality of channel offers, and the convergence of the media in general.

76Digitalization makes possible the use of a “functional or multimedia orientated structure.” This is better suited in times of digital and multimedia production. The company is arranged in relatively autonomous parts (combining radio, television, and multimedia) for each of the main functions, or divisions in the operation: channel controlling, program production, support, and internal services. Program production itself is not separated according to channels or media, but according to program genres. The advantages of this structure include the synergies of resources and talent for program production, cross-fertilization of ideas, and greater scope for cross-departmental usage of program content that is carried by several channels or services and across multiple delivery platforms to a variety of new combined receivers for different user situations.

77All this shows that the predominant view is that PSM institutions should stay in one form or another, and only the most extreme views support their dismantling. No system of contestable funding could en-sure the benefits of properly functioning PSM organizations or take on all the programming duties outlined above. As long as PSM provides linear on-air programs, these must be backed up by institutions capable of discharging their many obligations.

78Another twist on the institutional front is to say that with changing modes of content delivery, new institutions are needed to supplement the old ones. Ofcom (2007, p. 17) is suggesting that with the advance of new digital technologies, new institutional solutions should be devised:

“The rapid growth of broader, richer, less sharply defined digital media suggests that in the medium term—if not sooner—the broadcasting market will be increasingly characterized by forms of provision that are cross-platform and multimedia in nature, where content is likely to become increasingly central. Content producers will be able to make their output available without using the traditional channel model. From a public service perspective, it may now be more appropriate to speak of Public service Content (PSC) rather than Public service Broadcasting (PSB).” [emphases added—K.J.]

79On this basis, Ofcom has suggested that since production and delivery of online public service content, in cooperation with many content producers and providers, require different working methods than are typical of broadcasting organizations, new, appropriately designed institutions should be created. This is why it is proposing the establishment of a Public service Publisher, to be responsible primarily for online public service content. Ofcom (2007, pp. 7–8) had this to say concerning the operating model of PSP:

  • First, the PSP could be a commissioner—rather than a producer—of participative content. It could work with a diverse range of suppliers, from traditional linear content producers to others rooted in alternative markets such as gaming and social networks;

  • Second, a more radical rights model could be designed specifically for an organization delivering public purposes in new ways. Overall, the PSP should be “share-aware”—meaning that the rights exploitation model should embrace the reality of a participatory media environment, and not struggle against it. in particular, this means that alternative open licensing models—which allow content to be re-used and modified by others—are likely to be more appropriate for the PSP than traditional rights models;

  • Third, the PSP would operate a non-commercial business model, although the open rights model could allow other parties to develop commercial propositions that build on PSP content and services. In the case of the PSP, if commercial propositions were developed in response to PSP-funded content, a share of commercial income should be returned to the PSP and the content producer;

  • Fourth, the PSP could aim to secure reach and impact by partnering with other organizations for distribution. Possible partners include traditional broadcasters, local TV and community media, alternative platform operators, and service providers. The core remit of PSP would be to ensure the delivery of new forms of public service content, and it should therefore work with other organizations with established distribution arrangements, rather than create distribution networks of its own.

  • 4 Tryhorn, Ch. (2008) “Ofcom scraps ‘Public service Publisher’ Plans.” in The Guardian, March 12, 200 (...)

80The British government never warmed to the idea, and Ofcom finally gave up on this model,4but in doing so pointed out that developments in British broadcasting had actually validated the idea. Commercial terrestrial television stations (Channel 4, ITV, and Five, all considered “commercial public service broadcasters” in the British system, and obliged by their licences to perform a public service) were reducing their public service content. As a result, the BBC was increasingly alone in delivering public service value and would be left without competition necessary to prevent it from becoming complacent and without an incentive to improve its offerings.

10.3.5. PSM and the public: a new partnership

81Public service broadcasting has come a long way since its paternalistic beginnings. One thing, however, has remained basically unchanged, and that is the asymmetrical relationship between PSM organizations and their audience.

82According to Ytreberg (2002), there are four ideal types of selfpresentation of PSB: paternalists, bureaucrats, charismatics, and avant-gardists. not one of these ideal types assumes anything else than an institution apart, aloof from the audience to which it speaks, and seeking legitimation in terms of the content it delivers to the audience. Not one of these ideal types assumes the renunciation of PSM power or changing the asymmetrical relationship between PSM organizations and the public.

83Yet, given all the social change since the 1920s (as described in part above), it seems clear that the relationship has to change. Thomass (2007) points out that since public service broadcasters have to fight for their political survival, the audience acquires an even greater importance than before. In the last analysis, she says, it is the support of the audiences and of the public sphere that legitimizes PSB. An intensified dialogue with the audiences offers the possibility to position PSB better vis-à-vis the audiences, to win supporters, and also to display responsibility and accountability to the license fee payer. She mentions several forms of such dialogue: the nomination of ombudspeople who accept viewer complaints and communicate them to the responsible editors; local and regional media forums; targeted opinion surveys among the audience; and of course, online communication, which opens new ways of dialogue and can promote intensified contact with the audience.

84However, other proposals go much further, pointing to the need fundamentally to revise the model of public service provision. John Keane (1991, 1993) long ago called for this to happen, so that public service media would “aim to facilitate a genuine commonwealth of forms of life, tastes, and opinions, to empower a plurality of citizens who are governed neither by despotic states nor by market forces. It would circulate to them a wide variety of opinions” (Keane, 1993, p. 6). This would serve to decommodify and maximize freedom and equality of communication, and would require—in Keane’s view— massive public intervention into the media system in order to develop a plurality of non-state media and, among other things, to guarantee rights of access to air time for individuals, groups and independent program makers.

85This call is repeated today. It is argued that alternative, internet-based media may become “new Public Media” (see Rozanova, 2007). This also appears to be the view of Ian Kearns (2003): “social and technological change means facing the challenge of renewal—from public service broadcasting to public service [online] communications […] the BBC and the entire Public service Communications community needs to move away from the broadcast paradigm of content delivered to a mass public and toward the usage and participation paradigm of the network age.”

86Rozanova (2007, p. 143) does not agree:

“The idea that alternative media may become new Public Media is disturbing in its complacency regarding the vision that public institutions, including the media, may survive only on a small-scale basis, using rudimentary resources, while big production resources and large audiences are colonized by media corporations or governments that are subject to little restraint […] on a societal level, there is always a need to create a common vocabulary, common frames of reference to facilitate public discussion and public decision-making.”

87This takes us into the whole debate on the role of new technologies in the democratic process, i.e. the so-called “teledemocracy,” “digital democracy,” or “e-democracy.” Dahlgren (2003), for example, argues that by facilitating the emergence of multi-sector online public spheres, the internet is creating disparate islands of political communication and has the effect of dispersing what has been a relatively unified public sphere of the mass media into many separate public spheres. This threatens to undercut a shared public culture and the integrative societal function of the public sphere, hampers the formation of collective political will, and may well foster intolerance among separate “voluntary communities.” This trend towards fragmentation and increasing dispersion may reduce the democratic potential of the ICTs (for a more extensive discussion, see Jakubowicz, 2005).

88Rozanova’s (2007) point about the need to preserve media capable of representing the public interest, rather than replace them with those capable only of articulating the interests and views of select groups, is well taken. Nevertheless, public service media cannot remain indifferent to the fact that more and more people are using the internet and other non-broadcast electronic media as their main source of information and content. Therefore, a third way must be sought: use of both broadcast and non-broadcast electronic media for the purposes of public service delivery. Keane’s vision can today largely be achieved simply by opening up PSM media to the world of semiotic democracy and encouraging them to keep abreast of trends in societal communication.

89This is suggested, for example, by Collins et al. (2001, p. 11), who point to the important role of the PSB broadcasters themselves in safeguarding their own future:

“People should be able to feel that public service broadcasting is theirs. […] new media, as several public service broadcasters have recognized, provide striking opportunities to break out of [the] ‘take what you are given’ mode. But organizational changes also offer public service broadcasters to build new relationships of partnership, identification, and sense of shared ownership which involve viewers, listeners and Web surfers—indeed, which make receivers into senders.”

90Chitty (2007, p. 27) agrees:

“The concept of participation is very amenable to a new idea of Public service in that it encourages citizens to become users rather than viewers of content: active participants who produce, modify, comment on, judge and repurpose content rather than act as the passive (though grateful) recipients of broadcast information and entertainment. rather than thinking of high quality ‘content’ in the manner of TV programmes it might be more useful to think of high quality participatory services where linear content is only one aspect of an experience that might be accessed through many channels—online, via mobile, kiosk or TV.”

  • 5 Madden, M. (2004) Artists, Musicians and the Internet. Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet & American Li (...)

91The main avenue to explore is how to introduce user-generated content (see Madden, 20045and Wunsch-Vincent and Vickery, 2007, for descriptions of this fast-growing phenomenon) into the PSM program offer—naturally, without compromising its quality.

92During a session at the Financial Times digital Media Conference on what media consumption in the UK might look like in 2012,6a big rise in the sharing of information among online communities with common interests was predicted. The new technologies will permit far greater personalization of all forms of content, and end users will be empowered and have greater influence, controlling how, where, and at what price they consume content. It was noted that mainstream media should respond to a blogging-related trend, micropublishing, which allows authors not only to control the editorial and publication process but also to determine the fees they charged for access to their work.

93This strategy is pursued, for example, by VRT, the Flemish PSM organization in Belgium (Geysen, 2007), which says that its role now is, among other things, to “give the public a platform to create.” since, says VRT, the “secret ambition of the audience” is to have “15 minutes of fame,” then it is the role of the PSM organization’s “platforms [to] give [them] the opportunity to have their 15 minutes.”

94This, however, is a rather dismissive approach to “user-generated content.” other PSM organizations approach the issue in a different way. BBC news 24 has launched the UK’s first news program based entirely on user-generated content. Your News broadcasts stories, features, and videos that have proved most popular with viewers on television and the internet.

95The weekly program includes items such as news stories covering issues raised by members of the public as well as a segment answering questions that have been sent in. The BBC has also adopted rules allowing for payment for user-generated content that is “particularly editorially important or unique.”

96In another development, in June 2007 the BBC launched a user-driven website, as part of BBC Two’s summer of British Film season. The site features inspired tributes to British cinema in the form of amateur film clips and a forum for film lovers to share their ideas and experiences. Budding amateur filmmakers and actors are also invited to remake scenes from their favorite British films and upload them to the BBC mini-movies group on YouTube. The site will showcase the best entries and allow users to comment on and rate their peers’ efforts. The best clips will be shown on BBC Two during the summer of British Film season. a similar website established by Channel 4 allows users to generate, upload, and view four-minute documentaries.

97All this serves a number of purposes: it allows PSM to acknowledge the role of the public as an active partner, and no longer just passive receiver; to reconnect with the public in ways suited to the 21st century, and to make public media truly public. While practical ways of achieving this goal are still being developed, this can fundamentally democratize PSM and bring it into line with trends in society and social communication. A debate on this is beginning among PSM organizations (Mullane, 2007).

10.4. Conclusion

98Several models of the emergence of public service broadcasting can be identified:

  1. Paternalistic—as in the united Kingdom, where PSB was originally born in 1926 in the form of the BBC, an independent public corporation with a public service remit, understood in part as promoting public enlightenment, playing a clearly normative role in the country’s cultural, moral and political life.

  2. democratic and emancipatory—as in some other Western Europe an countries, where erstwhile state broadcasting organizations began to be transformed into public service broadcasters in the 1960s and 1970s, a time when state (government) control of the then-monopoly broadcasters could no longer be justified or claim legitimacy, and a way was sought to associate them more closely with civil society and turn them into autonomous PSB organizations.

  3. Systemic—as in West Germany after World War II; Spain, Portugal, and Greece in the 1970s; and in Central and eastern Europe after 1989, when a change of the broadcasting system was part and parcel of broader political change, typically transition to democracy after an authoritarian or totalitarian system.

99There is thus, historically speaking, a growing association of public service media with democracy and civil society. Now is the time to take the next step and reconstruct PSM into a platform for open societal communication. This would be a radical departure from the traditional model of paternalistic top-down communication.

100This would complete the evolution of PSB, which can be presented as follows:

  • 1920–1930s: state radio or paternalistic PSB

  • 1960–1980s: democratic-emancipatory evolution of PSB: closer ties with civil society

  • 2000–2015 (projected): PSM and the public: a new partnership

101Flisen (2007) has written that the future of PSM organizations will be decided by “economy, technology and ideology.” of these three, ideology will probably most strongly affect prospects for public service media, or public service provision via the electronic media, surviving in the future. This is because the political will to advance, or not advance, the public interest in social life, including the media, depends primarily on the ideological orientation of policymakers. And public service media are dedicated to promoting the public interest in social communication.

102Puttnam (2007, pp. 128–129) argues that in a digital era, the definition of the public interest in media regulation must continue to be informed by three overriding principles:

  • from the perspective of public policy, wherever the interests of the citizen conflicts with those of the marketplace, the “citizen interest” should have priority;

  • diversity and plurality are the touchstones by which we measure the extent to which the citizen interest is being sustained and advanced;

  • we should seek to ensure that all citizens have the means, and the ability, to make informed judgments regarding the nature and value of the media they access.

103Puttnam (2007, p. 128) also warns against the conviction that the ubiquity of digital technologies in itself will ensure that the public interest will somehow prevail, as well as against the technological determinist belief that the new technologies could deliver enough content to guarantee diversity and plurality in itself. Finally, he says that the media “cannot be crudely reduced to the status of being mere commodities, any more than other vital aspects of a self-respecting democracy such as our systems of justice, health, education or, more recently, the security of supply of water, light and heat.”

104This is eloquent testimony to the continuing need for public service media. It is up to them, however, to understand how much the public interest and the needs of citizens have changed, and to reinvent themselves to serve those needs. In the end, the future of PSM will be determined in those moments when media users decide whether to turn to PSM.


1 See O’Reilly, T. (2005) What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software (,\; retrieved February 16, 2008); Sifry, d. (2006) State of the Blogosphere (http://; retrieved February 16, 2008).

2 Stark, E. (2006) Free Culture and the Internet: A New Semiotic Democracy (; retrieved February 16, 2008).

3 Friday Night with Jonathan Ross is a television chat show on BBC one. The program features Ross’s views on current topics, guest interviews (usually three per show), and live music from both a guest music group and the house band.

4 Tryhorn, Ch. (2008) “Ofcom scraps ‘Public service Publisher’ Plans.” in The Guardian, March 12, 2008 (; retrieved March 23, 2008).

5 Madden, M. (2004) Artists, Musicians and the Internet. Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet & American Life Project.

6 Feuilherade, P. (2006) Digital Media Empowering Users” (; retrieved March 4, 2008).

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 10.1. The new system of content and service delivery
Fichier image/jpeg, 116k
Titre Figure 10.2. Bordejwik, van Kaam: Typology of Information Traffic
Fichier image/jpeg, 108k
Titre Table 10.1. “Old” and “new” assumptions about the nature and strategic significance of content
Fichier image/jpeg, 252k
Titre Table 10.2. Extending public service TV and radio with new media
Fichier image/jpeg, 236k
Titre Figure 10.3. Find, Play and Share on the example of “Friday Night3 with Jonathan Ross”
Fichier image/jpeg, 224k
Titre Figure 10.4. PSM obligations—their background and consequences
Fichier image/jpeg, 189k


Karol Jakubowicz, Ph.D. He heads Working Group 2 of the COST A30 ACTION East of West: Setting a New Central and Eastern European Media Research Agenda. He is also Corresponding editor of European Journal of Communication, Media, Culture and Society; International Communication Gazette; Political Communication, Javnost/The Public. He has taught at the institute of Journalism, University of Warsaw (1997–2002) and has been Visiting Professor at the institute of Journalism, University of Dortmund, and at the Amsterdam school of Communications research, university of Amsterdam. He was director, strategy and analysis department, the national Broadcasting Council of Poland (2004–2006). He has worked as a journalist and executive in the Polish press, radio and television for many years. He held numerous leading positions in the Polish Television and its supervisory Board. He has a long standing experience of work for international organizations, including intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO Information for all Programme, the Council of the independent Media Commission in Kosovo, European Broadcasting Union, OSCE, Council of Europe (as Chairman of the Committee of experts on Media Concentrations and Pluralism, Chairman of the standing Committee on Transfrontier Television; and Chairman of the steering Committee on the Media and new Communication services). His scholarly and other publications have been published widely in Poland and internationally. His most recent publications include Rude Awakening. Social and Media Change in Central and Eastern Europe (Hampton Press, U.S.), and Public Service Broadcasting: The Beginning of the End, or a New Beginning? (WAIP, Poland; in Polish). E-mail:

© Central European University Press, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation :


Volume papier
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search