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public service broadcasting


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Any broadcasting regime with the ideal of giving priority to the interests of the general public rather than commercial interests, often framed as giving the public what it needs rather than what it wants, offering a forum for disseminating information within the public sphere (see alsobalanced programming; public and private spheres; public broadcasting service; comparemarket model). In such conceptions, PSB is seen as having a democratic function (see alsoaccess), information and education being more important than entertainment, and the quality of programme content being a high priority (see alsoquality television; Reithianism). It also makes a major contribution to shaping a sense of national identity (see alsoimagined community). PSB has been increasingly eroded by commercial pressures, and some argue that it is no longer a tenable model (see alsoaudience fragmentation; commercialization; dumbing down; fiction values; spectrum scarcity). In the UK, the Broadcasting Act of 1954 led to the break-up of the BBC monopoly and to Independent Television (seeduopoly), the Broadcasting Act of 1982 recognized the needs of minority audiences and led to Channel 4, and those of 1990 and 1996 accommodated the ‘free market economics’ of satellite television and digital broadcasting (see alsoderegulation).

Subjects: Media Studies — Law.


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