"Suffocation" of Public Sector Broadcasting

Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History, University of Westminster

The Open Society Institute announces the publication of a major new monitoring report on television in Europe.....The report confirms that television, which should be a pillar of democracy and open societies, is changing at breakneck speed. Patterns of production, transmission, consumption, marketing, financing and ownership - these are all in flux. On the content side, Europe is witnessing the rapid rise of program formats and the slow suffocation of public service output....
The report focuses on the latest changes in nine countries: Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania, the Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. These countries also featured in the OSI's original Television across Europe project (2005), which covered 20 countries. The new reports are sequels.

Key findings:

* Public service broadcasters (PSBs) suffer from mounting politicization and pressure, flawed funding models, and disintegrating reputations.
* Broadcast regulators are also increasingly politicised. Only a few have taken initiatives to let a more diverse range of operators enter the market.
* Public service content has not been boosted by incentives or obligations.
* Transparency of commercial media ownership remains a major problem.
* Although debate on media policy and reform has intensified, civil society is rarely consulted in a meaningful way.
* There has been no concerted effort to promote media literacy. Where this happens at all, it is carried out mainly by NGOs.

The country reports and the regional overview are available at http://www.mediapolicy.org