Public Service Media in the Age of Platforms
For almost 100 years, public service media (PSM) have played a central role in European culture and society. However, over the past decade the rise of global platforms and streaming services has transformed the environment within which PSM operates. PSM organisations have to compete with global streaming services, such as Netflix and YouTube, for audiences, revenue and talent. And they have had to develop new on-demand services and online content that can only be delivered through the online systems owned by global platforms such as Google, Apple and Amazon. PSM-AP asks how PSM organisations, and the regulators and policymakers that legislate for and enforce their remits, are adapting to this new platform age, and how their responses might be altering the social and cultural values of PSM and its ability to operate in the public interest. It focuses on television, which remains at the heart of PSM. It asks how the new environment within which PSM organisations are operating might affect the values that underpin the production and distribution of TV programmes by PSM organisations, and the policy debates and regulatory structures that shape the remits and structures within which PSM organisations operate.
The project will compare data gathered within and across six countries and 12 PSM organisations: Belgium (RTBF, VRT), Canada (CBC), Denmark (DR, TV 2), Italy (RAI), Poland (TVP), UK (BBC, Channel 4, S4C, ITV, Channel 5). We will look at policy, regulatory and trade debates/documents, undertake interviews with commissioning, channel/service, curation, marketing and audience research teams within the selected PSM organisations, and analyse the linear schedules, video-on-demand interfaces and programmes of those PSM organisations. Comparing this data across each country will enable us to understand how different factors, such as language, size of nation and legitimacy and funding of PSM, might affect the ways in which PSM organisations, regulators and policymakers are adapting to the platform age. Knowledge exchange with PSM organisations, regulators, policymakers and civil society groups will be used to identify what actions might be needed to ensure that PSM operates in the public interest. The project includes the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA) as project partners and will generate industry and policy briefs, reports, blogs and press articles aimed at securing the public value of PSM.