Video-on-demand as Public Service Television
According to Catherine Johnson (University of Nottingham), ‘there is a strong argument that as traditional broadcast and internet services merge, the case for PSB becomes stronger’. While US market leads on the development of commercial VOD television services such as Netflix, increased choice of VOD on offer and fragmentation of audiences tend to prioritise the demographics that are most able to pay, with economically disadvantaged audiences being under-served. Furthermore, Johnson argues for the increasing value and importance of the element of trust in content providers, with the UK’s PSBs in the leading position, as they are mandated by regulation to serve the pubic’s needs over the other interests. ‘In our highly mediated society, PSBs can instead provide media spaces that are independent from partisan commercial or political interests and encourage encounters with a broad range of ideas, opinions and cultures that are vital for a healthy society and democracy.’
Pilkington Report as a blueprint for the future PSB?
‘Television is and will be a main factor in influencing the values and moral standards of our society’, and thus ‘by its nature broadcasting must be in a constant and sensitive relationship with the moral condition of society.’ The cultural historian Julian Petley (Brunel University) examines visionary and enduring values of the Pilkington Report.
The Contribution of the Commercial PSBs Needs to be Further Highlighted
According to Philip Ramsey (University of Nottingham Ningbo China), ‘the debate over PSB often seems to discount the fact that the commercial PSBs play a vital role within public service television outside of the BBC.’ Ramsey identifies strengthening of the first-run originations quotas as vital to maintaining a robust public service television system.
TV Production Investment Fluctuations Have a Huge Knock-On Effect on the Employment Prospects
According to Equity, the UK trade union for professional performers and creative practitioners, fluctuations in the level of investment in television content production during the last ten years had a huge knock-on effect on the employment prospects and job security of performers as well as other creative workers in the sector. Equity raised particular concerns over the new obligation given to the BBC to provide free licences for the over 75s. This obligation, Equity states, is inappropriate ‘as it confers social policy responsibilities on to the BBC and is likely to lead to a significant shortfall in BBC funding post 2018’ which will inevitably lead to large scale job losses, content budget cuts and service closures.
The Right to Watch Sports?
According to Garry Whannel (Journalism and the Olympic Games Research Group, University of Bedfordshire), ‘[d]ue to the transformation of sporting events into globally distributed commodities, which attract massive sums in the form of television rights payments, since 1990 it has become increasingly difficult for public service broadcasters to maintain a range of sports broadcasting as live rights for major sports have been obtained by operators of subscription channels. The impact of this has been to diminish our national shared cultural life.’