Broadcasting is a major source of leisure and entertainment for many people. Moreover, it carries in itself a wide range of essential information. It enables people to get into the bottom of matters that were previously out of reach. People can take part and decide on different matters as well as give their opinions about the same. Good broadcasting has to incorporate the aspect of public service broadcasting. This entails universal availability and appeal, provision of minorities, public education, distant vested interests, competitiveness, media freedom, and fostering public sphere.
Broadcasting came into the limelight in the 1920s when the BBC was established. The concept of public service broadcasting (PSP) originated in Britain; it entails the TV, radio, and other online services. The founding Director General of BBC was John Reith. He greatly influenced the establishment of broadcasting in the ‘dominions’. He proposed that broadcasting is a significant tool of public service in terms of moral, culture, and education. It aids in social and political unification as well as the creation of informed and illuminated democracy.
The Sykes Committee of 1924 in Britain also saw the broadcasting as a precious kind of public property which ought to be managed solely in the public interest. It was operated as a non-commercial monopoly in Britain. On the contrary, in the United States, broadcasting was founded in the form of private and commercial organizations, not through the aegis of the state. Other countries such as Canada and Australia started broadcasting as a mixed strategy where radios and TVs were established both by public service sectors and commercial sectors.
Broadcasting has been dynamic since its transplantation from Britain to the rest of the world with its diverse functions changing to adapt to the different environments. For example, in South Africa, it was used by the white imperialists as a tool of Apartheid to strengthen their ascendancy. Reith’s version of PSB was democratic in two ways. It acted as a pathway to the nicest cultural aspects for the entire population. Secondly, PSB played a major part in providing information to the public. Through it, Britain population practiced citizenship in various ways including general elections. Moreover, in Australia, broadcasting provided programs to address sections of the community requiring special remediation and education such as women and children.
Public service broadcasting faces threats. Funding of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) by Commonwealth has declined since the late 1970s. This has led to inevitable restructurings and downsizings, uncertainty in production, and internal menace. As a result, there emerged bad relations between staff and management. Many economists have described ABC as inefficient. The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) of Australia, in contrast, has successfully entered into pay TV via its World Movies channel.
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ABC funding cuts emanate from its conflicts with the government. The ABC embarrasses the incumbent government with its investigative reporting while the government accuses ABC of political biases. This was evident during the Iraq war where the government referred to ABC reporting as emotional and anti-American. Many economists argued in favor of SBS and ABC based on the market failure to provide an adequate supply of some broadcasting services. However, in this digital era, specialized information, for instance, on art, science, technology, and health is availed on the internet and DSTV. Critics argue that ABC and SBS broadcasting has been a preserve of the privileged middle-class and hence should not be funded by tax-payers.
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To counter these arguments, ABC and SBS have begun to popularize their programming. This has been portrayed by the introduction of more personal documentaries, reality TV, and lifestyle programming. However, the extreme undertaking of populist direction means that government may cease to fund this broadcasting on the allegation that it will be supported by commercial revenues. This populist direction has broadened the market for SBS such that it has realized a great level of application of its specialist programs among various language groups. Researches indicate that it is listened to by over 89000 people who do not speak English at home.
ABC has proven to be a leader of online services. Nevertheless, due to inadequate government financial support, it has been unable to offer all of its initial services. In 2004, it canceled its digital multi-channel service and a pretty popular school program which triggered the negative reaction from parents and students. It announced that it would restore it in 2004 and further promised to launch a digital children’s channel in 2005.
Digital era of broadcasting can eradicate public service broadcasting like that of the ancient bent ABC. However, this can lead to exclusion of people with the inability to pay. Global media environment comes with several advantages ranging from a wide variety of quality programs to increased ability to address specialist audiences. Nevertheless, globalization leads to the inability to provide locally essential programs and also erodes morals.