Public Service Media in the Digital Age


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Draft presentation prepared for ARNIC Spring 08 Workshop on "US Digital Policy in the Global Context: Issues and Prospects Beyond 2008"
(copyright 2008 by the authors)

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Public Service Media in the Digital Age

  1. 1. Public Service Media in the Digital Age Annenberg Research Network for International Communications April 11, 2008
  2. 2. Public Media in the US Built on Broadcasting Model <ul><li>CPB, PBS, NPR established 1967-1970 </li></ul><ul><li>Still retain high level of public trust </li></ul><ul><li>But audience for public TV declining </li></ul><ul><ul><li>and aging </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Like commercial broadcasters, pubcasters slow to adapt to new media environment </li></ul>06/02/09
  3. 3. Old and New Media Environment 06/02/09 For-Profit Public/Nonprofit Vertical (aka old media) Horizontal (aka new media) Broadcast TV, radio Cable, satellite TV Most newspapers and magazines Telco TV CPB PBS - 355 stations NPR - 860 stations YouTube Flickr Huffington Post Current TV MySpace, Facebook Low Power FM Public Access TV Many blogs Wikipedia, Wikinews
  4. 4. How Does New Media Differ from Old? <ul><li>Participation by “the people formerly known as the audience” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User generated content (UGC) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborative production and filtering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Digital, peer-to-peer distribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many-to-many communication </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Abundance of content, both good and bad </li></ul><ul><li>More narrowly focused media channels that serve distinct communities (?) </li></ul>06/02/09
  5. 5. Pubcasters Face Difficult Transition <ul><li>Broadcast culture wants centralized control </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Seeks UGC while still retaining editorial filters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncomfortable with participatory production and distribution models </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need to form alliances with new partners </li></ul><ul><li>Need strategies to cope with constant change </li></ul><ul><li>Public funding makes risk-taking difficult </li></ul>06/02/09
  6. 6. Innovations by US Pubcasters <ul><li>Podcasts from NPR and member stations </li></ul><ul><li>NPR Mobile Web and Voice (beta) </li></ul><ul><li>PRX - Public Radio Exchange </li></ul><ul><li>Vocalo - Chicago Public Radio </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Distribution Consortium (radio) </li></ul><ul><li>PBS KIDS Online </li></ul><ul><li>PBS content distribution via BitTorrent </li></ul>06/02/09
  7. 7. UK Public Service Media Evolution <ul><li>BBC moving into new media across many fronts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>iPlayer provides on-demand access to BBC TV content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile browser service to news, sports, weather sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff of >1000 in Future Media & Technology Group </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But participatory content models slow to take hold </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Our DNA remains one-to-many” (Richard Sambrook, Director, BBC Global News, March 2008) </li></ul></ul>06/02/09
  8. 8. UK Plan for Public Service Publishers On Hold <ul><li>UK Regulator (Ofcom) proposed PSPs in 2004 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Commission and/or create participatory content for digital distribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide local services using new media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring new competition to BBC </li></ul></ul><ul><li>PSP concept shelved in March 2008 due to “unheralded diversity of interactive media” </li></ul>06/02/09
  9. 9. Where’s the Public Interest in Public Media Evolution? <ul><li>What priorities for US public media in the new environment? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In-depth news and other content? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Serving the underserved? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Education or other “public service” applications? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support for participatory democratic processes and values? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rely on existing entities or build new ones? </li></ul><ul><li>What public resources are required? </li></ul>06/02/09
  10. 10. Placeholder for Sasha’s Section 06/02/09
  11. 11. Principles of Public New Media <ul><li>Participatory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User generated content (UGC) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborative production and filtering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Digital, peer-to-peer distribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many-to-many communication </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Free and open content, formats, infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Content distributed across multiple platforms </li></ul>06/02/09
  12. 12. Prospective Case Study Examples for New Public Media <ul><li>PRX </li></ul><ul><li>Denver Open Media </li></ul><ul><li>Vocalo </li></ul><ul><li>Community-based, low power fm </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Global Voices </li></ul><ul><li>Examples from UK, Korea, other countries </li></ul>06/02/09