What Are Public Service Broadcasting Media
In this essay I intend to shape a better understanding of the term " Public Service Broadcasting" and explain how it is regulated within the UK. I aim to establish the key issues at stake for the future of public service broadcasting. PSB was developed in the 1920's and has had a long and profound history in the UK. It has been well funded and has produced many programmes of a high quality and standard eg: Eastender, this soap just celebrated its 25th anniversary on BBC 1 and for this special occasion a live episode was preformed. The definition of Public Service Broadcasting can be simplified as radio, television and other electronic media outlets that obtain much of their funding from the public.
In order to investigate PSB further it is important to look closely at the most obvious example of public service broadcasting which is the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which was founded in 1926. Torin Douglas - media correspondent for BBC news states: "PSB covers all those sorts of programmes that a commercial broadcaster would probably not make if they were only interested in making a profit and getting the biggest audience. This includes news and current affairs and, in the past, has also included children's, arts and religious programming".
The fundamental principle behind the PBS as to provide a service for all members of the community, with what Lord Reith, Director General of the BBC in the 1920s, called a duty to " inform, educate and entertain" ( Philip Rayner 2006 - Page 210). For the fee of a yearly licence fee the public received a national service, which was joined by a television service after the Second World War. Originally all households that owned a radio had to buy a license. Later, ownership of a television meant the purchase of a television licence was obligatory as well. The majority of viewers were happy enough to pay the fee, however the minority of viewers felt that they this was unfair and they shouldn't have to pay for programmes they will not watch they simply want to " subscribe to individual programmes, rather than channels or packages of channels" ( Crisell- 1999).
According to Branston and Stafford- 2006 the purposes of PBS require the provision of programmes dealing with a wide range of topics and subject matters, television services that are likely to meet the requirements and satisfy the interests of a wide audience with a proper balance of programming. Ofcom suggest that the purpose of PSB is to "To reflect and strengthen our cultural identity through original programming at UK, national and regional level, on occasion bringing audiences together for shared experiences" offering the viewers escapsim and entertainment. Branston and Stafford also suggest that PSB is "dynamic concept that provides a flexible means of managing and developing an important utility which has been commercially successful and also served the public"
PSB faces ofcom's regulation which means that certain TV and radio broadcasters are obliged to include a specific amount of PSB as part of their licence to broadcast. Ofcom regulates all commercial channels, which includes ITV, Channel 4, channel 5, sky, virgin etc. Ofcom aims to protect viewers from inappropriate material on TV and radio.
The majority of PBS regulated by ofcomm who also provide a beneficial service to viewers where they can complain if they see or hear something that is harmful or offensive. Their complaints are "assessed against the broadcasting code. The code sets standards for television and radio shows and broadcasters have to follow these rules. If [a] programme has broken those rules, then it will be found in breach of that code" Ofcom deals with complaints from the public very seriously and investigate all cases reported to back them. Any company under investigation who is found to be in breach of the regulations are fined a substantial amount. (http://www.ofcom.org.uk/).
The BBC trust, which was established in 2007, is the "governing body of the BBC", the trust focus satisfying the public who own and pay for the BBC as they value all their viewers and are the "voice of the public". They target to maintain high editorial standards that mirror the broad views of the BBC audiences within the United Kingdom. They support PBS "to a extent within the obligations to licence fee payers, to support the provision of public service content by others and sustain contribution to the UK creative sector".
PBS in the UK will challenge two main problems in the future. One of the problems being that it will have to manage with the challenge in the mode of signal transmission (from analogue to digital). By 2010 it is confirmed that television all over Britain will go completely digital, this being a major issue to the BBC as this modern, digital television that offers a wide range of channels will appeal and attract to the majority of consumers, this putting the BBC in a vulnerable position.
The second problem that the PSB faces is the governance of the BBC and how it has been under increased public scrutiny. PSB is under a great pressure to justify its existence and its use of public funds. The BBC as the largest and most common PSB in the UK has recently been placed at the focus of concern. The governors are overall responsible for the BBC's budgeting, and are currently lacking in funds.
In conclusion PSB was created to provide a service to the public that is of a high standard, and that caters to a mass audience. The BBC relies on being publicly funded which is risky, whereas ITV, Channel four and five are all in a safer and comfortable position as they are all commercialised and part of their funding comes from advertising sources which means they aren't relying solely on one source. The BBC does face future problems that digital television will ultimately take over, leaving the organisation in an unstable situation. While the BBC has been successful the uncertainty remains will the BBC be able to keep to do date with the technological developments within its market.
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