Tuesday, 24 March 2009

What is the role and future of public service broadcasting in Britain today?

The role of public service broadcasting is:

  • Geographic universality — The stations' broadcasts are available nationwide, with no exception.

  • Catering for all interests and tastes — as exemplified by the BBC's range of minority channels

  • Catering for minorities — much as above, but with racial and linguistic minorities

  • Concern for national identity and community — this essentially means that the stations mostly part commission programmes from within the country, which may be more expensive than importing shows from abroad

  • Detachment from vested interests and government in which programming is impartial, and the broadcaster is not be subject to control by advertisers or government

  • One broadcasting system to be directly funded by the corpus of users — For example, the licence fee in the case of the BBC

  • Competition in good programming rather than numbers — quality is the prime concern with a true public service broadcaster

  • Guidelines to liberate programme-makers and not restrict them — in the UK, guidelines, and not laws, govern what a programme-maker can and cannot do, although these guidelines can be backed up by hefty penalties

The future of PSB looks threatened as the digital switchover will affect it. Ofcom - the independent regulator and competition authority - has launched a review on the future of public service broadcasting (PSB) in the UK. The BBC has been listening to and engaging with our audiences and the creative community to gather a broad range of views on the subject and we have announced a range of proposals to help ensure PSB sustainability.

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