Public Service Broadcasting research

The CBA is gathering research papers on Public Service Broadcasting topics around the world, as TV and radio face mounting challenges from diminishing budgets and converging media, as well as the perennial issues of independence and impartiality.

Is there a recent paper we have missed? Please get in touch, we would be pleased to review it here. Also see our publications section for our own research reports and handbooks on broadcasting.

Auntie knows best?

Public broadcasters and current affairs knowledge

Stuart Soroka, Blake Andrew, Toril Aalberg, Shanto Iyengar, James Curran, Sharon Coen, Kaori Hayashi, Paul Jones, Gianpetro Mazzoleni, June Woong Rhee, David Rowe and Rod Tiffen

Cambridge University Press, 1 January 2013

British Journal of Political Science

Abstract: PSBs are a central part of national news media landscapes. In many countries, PSBs are the first choice of citizens when it comes to news providers. And in perhaps more countries still, PSBs are thought of as specialists in provision of hard news.

We test this proposition here using survey data from a large crossnational survey involving indicators of current affairs knowledge and media consumption. Specifically, we examine whether exposure to public versus commercial news influences the knowledge citizens possess about current affairs, both domestically and internationally. We also test, using propensity score analysis, whether there is variation across PSBs in this regard. Results indicate that compared to commercial news, watching PSB has a net positive influence on knowledge of hard news, though not all PSBs are equally effective in contributing to knowledge acquisition. This knowledge gap between PSB and commercial news media consumption appears to be mitigated by factors such as de jure independence proportion of public financing, and audience share.

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Mapping Digital Media: News and New Media in Central Africa

Challenges and Opportunities

Marie-Soleil Frère

The Open Society Media Program, December 2012

Abstract: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa. Rwanda and Burundi are among the continent’s smallest states. More than just neighbours, these three countries are locked together by overlapping histories and by extreme political and economic challenges. Their populations are overwhelmingly rural and young. In terms of media, radio is by far the most popular source of news. Levels of state capture are high, and media quality is generally poor. Professional journalists face daunting obstacles.

Telecoms overheads are exorbitantly high. In these conditions, new and digital media — which flourish on consumers’ disposable income, strategic investment, and vibrant markets — have made a very slow start. Crucially, connectivity remains low. But change is afoot, led by the growth of mobile internet access.

In this report, Marie-Soleil Frère surveys the news landscapes of DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda. Marshalling an impressive range of data, she examines patterns of production and consumption, the often grim realities of law and regulation, the embryonic state of media policy, the role of donors, and the positive impact of online platforms. Most media outlets now have an online presence. SMS has become a basic tool for reporters. Interactivity gives voice to increasing numbers of listeners. The ease of digital archiving makes it possible to create a collective media “memory” for the first time. Chinese businesses are winning tenders for infrastructure projects.

The report ends with a set of practical recommendations relating to infrastructure, strategies to reduce access costs for journalists and the public, education and professionalisation, donor activity, governance, regulation, and media management.

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Multiplatforming Public Service Broadcasting

The economic and cultural role of UK Digital and TV Independents

James Bennett, Niki Strange, Paul Kerr and Andrea Medrado

Royal Holloway, University of London, 20 September 2012

Abstract: The UK independent sector has been an important economic success story in UK plc. But it has also added a great deal of cultural value through the shared commitment to, and understanding of, Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) that runs across independent television and digital media companies (Indies).

In turn, this investment in PSB has driven economic growth in the sector. This report details the role Indies play in PSB. We set out how PSB informs the production cultures of independent companies, the tensions experienced between profit and public service and the impact multiplatform commissioning and production practices have had on the sector. Our conclusion is that a fragile ‘compact’ between the PSBs and the independent sector underpins much of the success of the UK’s television and multiplatform industries. This compact is built on the balancing of economic reward with the cultural commitment to the purposes, characteristics and production modes of PSB found across the independent sector, which benefits UK audiences, the working lives of producers in the sector, and UK plc as a whole.

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