University of Southampton
The growing body of research findings on public and commercial media systems has clear implications for current policy discussions about the future of public service broadcasting in an increasingly commercialised world. If the findings are taken seriously, there is a strong case for maintaining a substantial public service element in national broadcasting systems and ensuring that these are well funded and robustly protected from government interference and commercial pressures, as this will contribute to the quality of democratic and social life. Policies that undermine public service broadcasting are likely also to undermine the public understanding and knowledge of politics as well as civic behaviour more generally.
Entertainment programming matters too. A public service shorn of its ability to present popular programmes, whether sport, drama, soap operas, reality shows or music, will fail to exercise a beneficial effect on those who fall into the news rather than seeking it out.
This, of course, results in a conflict between the public interest, on the one hand, and party political and powerful commercial interests, aligned on the other. The public interest lies in maintaining a trusted, reliable and balanced source of easily accessible news. Political interests lie in commercial news sources that faithfully repeat the words of politicians and their spin doctors. Commercial interests want a larger slice of the media cake and the profits they produce. Together they favour the commercialisation of the public service media, partially at least, but preferably wholesale.
You can read the full article 'Public Service and Commercial Broadcasting: Impacts on Politics and Society' here.