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Media, culture and society - Essay Example

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According to Wikipedia, "In the United Kingdom the term 'public service broadcasting' refers to broadcasting that is for the public benefit rather than for purely commercial concerns." The television and radio broadcasters also need to fulfill certain requirements, laid down by the communications regulator Ofcom, as part of their licence to broadcast…
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Download file to see previous pages The BBC is a non-commercial and the most well-known public service broadcaster (PSB) in the UK. However, it was with the launch of the first commercial broadcaster ITV in 1955, which made the government formulate certain rules, wherein, the broadcasters were obliged to show a certain level of local news coverage, arts and religious programming. Later, with the launch of other commercial television broadcasters, the government started PSB channels like Channel 4 and S4C. Channel 4 catered to the minorities and arts, whereas, S4C focused on Welch language programs.
Later, Channel 4 went through a restructuring under the Broadcasting Act 1990. Even ITV is attempting to restructure its model by reducing unprofitable PSB programming. The major reason for these PSB channels to restructure is due to the increased competition from the digital and the multi-channel television. Recently, even Ofcom has come up with a consulting paper to decide on what direction the PSB channels should take in the near future.
The Ofcom in its report assessed the effectiveness of the designated public service broadcasters - BBC, Channel 3, Channel 4, Five, S4C and Teletext - in delivering the public service purposes set out in the Communications Act in the UK. The report also analysed "how the quality of public service broadcasting can be maintained and strengthened in future." Ofcom set a new framework for PSB that would be adaptable to "respond to and reflect changing technologies, markets, and the needs of citizens and consumers."

The Ofcom in its report recommended the formation of a new Public Service Publisher, which would be flexible enough to adapt to the constant changes witnessed in the media industry in the contemporary world. The report also addressed the issue of the governance of the BBC. It stated that the governance framework should "support a well-run, strong, independent and properly funded BBC which operates consistently in the public interest." However, Ofcom also demanded to have a greater clarity between the functions of internal governance, the accountability of publicly funded bodies in broadcasting and of regulation for the broadcasting sector as a whole.

The BBC, developed under the first Director General of the channel Lord Reith, had the mission to inform, educate and entertain. Although, being funded by the government, the BBC tried to remain independent from the government's interference, which has made the BBC a respected organisation throughout the world. However, the danger of being influenced by the government and the upper-class society always lurks on an organisation funded by the government. Further, BBC has also earned the reputation for 'cultural paternalism' and being 'popular with the upper-middle-class viewers'. This is also being attacked by the left-wing critics of the media time and again. The first challenges to the BBC's monopoly came in the early 1950s in a report by Ronald Coase, an economist with the London School of Economics and Political Science. Coase in his paper "The British Broadcasting Corporation. A Study in Monopoly" (Coase 1950) identified two clusters of arguments supporting the BBC's monopoly i.e. arguments from technical and efficiency considerations and arguments from programming considerations.

Later, former Prime Minister Thatcher, set up the Peacock Commission ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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