Revisiting the debate about public service media exceptionalism
Flew, Terry (2012) Revisiting the debate about public service media exceptionalism. In Lowe, Gregory & Martin, Fiona (Eds.) RIPE@2012 Conference - Workgroups and Papers, University of Sydney, University of Sydney, Sydney, N. S. W.
The development of public service broadcasters (PSBs) in the 20th century was framed around debates about its difference compared to commercial broadcasting. These debates navigated between two poles. One concerned the relationship between non‐commercial sources of funding and the role played by statutory Charters as guarantors of the independence of PSBs. The other concerned the relationship between PSBs being both a complementary and a comprehensive service, although there are tensions inherent in this duality.
In the 21st century, as reconfigured public service media organisations (PSMs) operate across multiple platforms in a convergent media environment, how are these debates changing, if at all? Is the case for PSM “exceptionalism” changed with Web‐based services, catch‐up TV, podcasting, ancillary product sales, and commissioning of programs from external sources in order to operate in highly diversified cross‐media environments? Do the traditional assumptions about non‐commercialism still hold as the basis for different forms of PSM governance and accountability?
This paper will consider the question of PSM exceptionalism in the context of three reviews into Australian media that took place over 2011‐2012: the Convergence Review undertaken through the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy; the National Classification Scheme Review undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission; and the Independent Media Inquiry that considered the future of news and journalism.
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