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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 also balanced programming; public and private spheres; public broadcasting service; compare market model). In such conceptions, PSB is seen as having a democratic function (see also access), information and education being more important than entertainment, and the quality of programme content being a high priority (see also quality television; Reithianism). It also makes a major contribution to shaping a sense of national identity (see also imagined community). PSB has been increasingly eroded by commercial pressures, and some argue that it is no longer a tenable model (see also audience 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 (see duopoly), 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 also deregulation).

Subjects: Media studies


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