Is public service broadcasting still important?

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The definition of public service broadcasting is as contested as the market place it attempts to dominate. Some scholars say it is a network that it is “intended to serve everyone”1, that it serves to “transmit programming that aims to improve society by informing viewers.”1 The funding that public service broadcasting is sustained by is a characteristic too. Whereas the competition in the market place is fed on advertising funds, the public service is maintained by a combination of “donations, licence fees or…state subsidies that originated as taxes.”1 there is provision for the public service broadcasters to gain revenue through corporate ‘sponsorship’, but the rules prohibit the kind of advertisements we see on other channels, so much so that “product claims, stating prices or providing an incentive to buy”1 is not allowed. The origins of public service broadcasting are from recommendations drawn the “Crawford Committee” that was created by the post master general in 1925. The British Broadcasting Corporation was set up, by royal appointment on January 1st 1927.2 Some other characteristics of a public service network are its availability nationwide, its ability to cater for all tastes and interests, as well as providing outlets for ethnic minorities. Arguably most importantly is that the public service broadcaster should be detached from the government and any obvious political or commercial persuasion.3 As with all media, there is an inherent necessity to entertain the viewer, in order to sustain and justify your own existence, many public service broadcasters, especially the BBC, follow the Reithian directive which is to “inform, educate and entertain.”4 Looking at a particular example of the development of public service broadcasting within a nation we see the changes in the broadcasting in Italy. The Italian national broadcaster RI (Radiotelevisione Italiana)
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