Public Service Broadcasting in the UK: A Longer Term View

What is the future of public service broadcasting? Historically, UK broadcasting has been characterised by a high degree of public intervention. But the transition to digital TV and the arrival of high-speed broadband, with its multitude of viewing options, are having a profound impact on the industry. These changes create the possibility of more effective delivery of content but also threaten to erode existing commercial and public broadcaster models and to fragment audiences and funding.

This paper, with a foreword by Gavyn Davies, explores what this changing context will mean for public service broadcasting in the UK some ten years from now. It does so by rearticulating the case for public service broadcasting and considering the extent to which market arguments, used in the past to justify public intervention, remain relevant in today’s rapidly evolving broadcasting landscape.

It argues that the expansion of access to high-speed broadband will unlock the potential for the market to deliver much more public service content than in the old linear broadcasting world, and that a new balance of markets and public intervention will therefore be needed to secure key public policy objectives in the future. The authors explore the radical implications of this new balance for both existing public service broadcasters and wider broadcasting policy.

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