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2013 IAMCR Dublin Conference


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  • 1. 2013 IAMCR Dublin Conference – “Public service broadcasting and media reform in Brazil in comparative perspective” Dr. Carolina Matos Government Department University of Essex
  • 2. Key points • Defining PSB and the public interest • European public service broadcasting dilemmas • Towards a framework for looking at PSBs (Hallin and Mancini, 2000) • Latin American media systems: a history of neglect of public communications • Broadcasting policy and the public media in Brazil • Challenges for the public media platform in Brazil • Conclusions
  • 3. Defining PSB and the public interest • There has not yet been a standard and precise definition of what ‘public service broadcasting’ is, but many theories and debates on what PSB should stand for in a democratic society, and the relationship it has and should have with the public interest, has been developed extensively by various UK academics (i.e. Keane, 1995; Scannell, 1989). • The classic arguments have been mainly grounded on the assumption, as correctly highlighted by Keane (1995, 59), that the public service model is the main forum which permits the whole nation to talk to itself. • Scannell (1989) stated in his examination of the BBC that the UK’s PSB has helped voice the opinions of all members of society regardless of class and socio-economic status. This is still precisely the role that is required of the public media in democratic societies, and the one that it is destined to have in developing countries.
  • 4. PSB and the public interest • In their discussion of ‘the public’, Livingstone and Lunt (1994, 19) make reference to Robins (1990b), who affirms that ‘the public’ can be viewed as opposed to the market. It can also be viewed as in contrast to the elite, carrying an egalitarian dimension. No one could speak for a unified public and abstain from their own class position. • It is better, then, to understand ‘the public’, as Livingstone and Lunt (1994, 23) assert, as being ‘.....fragmented into a mass of competing interest groups (Fraser, 1990: 59) who may or may not represent fairly all sections of the general public.’ For the ‘bourgeoisie’ public sphere requires power inequalities to be transcended in the search of a consensus around the public good, whereas the pluralist public sphere demands the balancing of differences, facilitating the representation of the less powerful in order to arrive at a fairer compromise (Livingston and Lunt, 1994). • Thus we can understand the ‘public interest’ here as being multiple publics, or multiple public spheres (i.e. Fraser, 1997; Keane, 1995), whose diverse interests and needs often clash with each other.
  • 5. Future role for PSB in old and new democracies As vehicle for strengthening debate: talk as becoming more spontaneous and less constrained (Scannell, 1995) As a vehicle for cultural and educational emancipation; boost of political diversity as well as both regional and national integration Journalism of quality - Impartiality and objectivity, balance and professionalism Functioning as a counterweight to the market – the necessity of multiple public spheres and media to attend to both citizen and consumer demands Independent from state - is a truly public media ever possible?
  • 6. PSB and the public sphere: further theoretical perspectives Arguments that question the BBC’s necessity – “….media abundance (Keane, 1995); the burden of the license fee tax on citizens; the claims that the BBC discourages innovation, and that in its efforts to retain the attention of fragmented audiences, it is “dumbing down” and becoming more indistinguishable from commercial broadcasters…” (Matos, 2008) 2008 Ofcom annual report points significance still of PSB’s role for deliberative democracy, despite decline of 3% in viewing in 2007 Government discusses plans to create a second PSB, C4 at its heart, to compete with BBC (i.e. Digital Report)
  • 7. The role of UK PSB in public life (in Matos, 2008) Criticising academics (i.e. Curran, Scannell) and their understanding of PSB grounded in the Habermasian notion of the public sphere, Keane (1995; 57) has argued that the public service media in old European democracies has slipped into an identity crisis Implication is that the concerns with the public interest are not fully grounded in our current “post-modern” context of multiple social movements…., global events transmitted via 24hours news channels to global audiences and the diversity of elite decision-making public readers of international newspapers (Matos, 2008). Keane’s argument can perhaps strike a wider cord with critics from more advanced democracies which are currently experiencing a situation of media-saturation, but even here such statements…..are problematic (Matos, 2008)
  • 8. Broadcasting in the UK and regulation * The state’s participation in the ownership or regulation of the broadcast media in liberal European democracies has been based upon the need to guarantee standards of ‘neutrality’, minimising political bias.... • Set up under the 2003 Communications bill, the UK’s broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, has been an example of reference in media regulation in Europe; • British newspapers operate on a system of self-regulation (i.e. Press Complaints Commission is an independent self-regulatory body) • Government in Brazil debates creation of new communication agency, similar to Ofcom.
  • 9. Broadcasting in the UK and regulation continued According to Forgan and Tambini (2000, 03, in Santos e Silveira, 2007, 73), PSB regulation in the UK improved through time; • Dunleavy (1987) has argued how public service broadcasting regulation in the UK has managed to act as a counter-weight to the press, neutralising or balancing the biases of the partisan British tabloids ; • Regulation in the UK has also been supported by various regulation bodies who have established different codes of conduct.
  • 10. PSB tradition versus citizens’ knowledge of politics BBC is pointed out by researchers as being able to deliver more elections news, produce longer stories of greater substance and give more attention to minority parties Studies (i.e. Curran, 2007; Scammell and Semetko, 2005) have shown how certain countries with a strong PSB tradition, like Britain with its dual system and the Scandinavian nations, where the state subsides minority media outlets, citizens have more knowledge of politics and international affairs than countries where the commercial media system predominates (in Matos, 2008)
  • 11. Comparing Media Systems (Hallin and Mancini, 2000) • Point out Four Theories of the Press as their starting point, but that its scope is so grand that it is almost superficial • Authors’ study covers the media systems of the US, Canada and most of Europe – limit themselves to North America and W. Europe Authors include 3 models: 1)Liberal Model – prevails in Britain, Ireland and North America 2)Democratic Corporatist Model – Northern Europe 3) Polarized Pluralist Model or Mediterranean – Dominance of market mechanisms and of commercial media (Southern Europe). • Authors state that their models of media systems can be useful to scholars working on other regions as points of reference • Analysis is limited to the print press and broadcasting, but could certainly include film, music and other entertainment
  • 12. Four dimensions to analyse media systems in North Europe and America (in Hallin and Mancini, 2004) Developed further from Blumler and Gurevitch (1975): • 1) the development of media markets – emphasis is given here on the strong or weak development of mass circulation press; • 2) political parallelism – the degree and nature of the links between the media and political parties, or the extent that the media system reflects political divisions. Public broadcasting systems and the regulatory agencies have a significant relationship to politics; • 3) the development of journalistic professionalism – refers to norms and codes of the journalism profession, the tradition of neutrality, impartiality and objectivity against militant and advocacy forms. • 4) the degree and nature of state intervention in the media system – the role that the state has and its relationship to the media, and refers largely to governmental control or media independence from the state.
  • 13. Comparing media systems: Southern Europe and Latin America • Historical perspectives: State intervention in South America has reinforced governmental power (Waisbord, 2000) • But - Market liberalisation and political democratisation have assigned new roles for state (more democratic participatory) and market (liberating versus oppressive of debate) • Similarities between Latin American media systems and Southern European (Hallin and Papathanassopoulos (2002, 3): • 1) the low circulation of newspapers; 2) tradition of advocacy reporting; 3) instrumentalization (political use) of privately-owned media; 4) politicization of broadcasting and regulation; 5) limited development of journalism autonomy.
  • 14. Three Models of Media Systems (Hallin and Mancini, 2000) Mediterranean (Southern Europe) Democratic Corporatist (Northern Europe) Liberal (North America) Newspaper Low circulation; elite-oriented High circulation Medium Political parallelism High parallelism; external pluralism; politics/broadcast External pluralism; party press; PSB autonomy Neutral commercial press; internal pluralism Professionalization Weak;journalism political activism not differentiated Strong professionalization; institutionalised self-regulation Strong professionalization; non- institutionalised Role of the State Strong state intervention Strong state intervention; strong PSB Market dominated; weak PSB
  • 15. Latin American broadcasting has adopted US model • TV in many Latin American countries has developed following the US commercial model • I.e. Development of Brazilian television by military planners in the 60’s onwards contributed for the formation of what Straubhaar (2001; 138) has defined as the “nationalizing vocation”, and the creation of a consumer culture and engagement of Brazilians in the market economy (Matos, 2008). • Television has taken on a central role in political life, in the country’s democratisation process and in the construction of various identities. It is possible to say that in this sense TV Globo carries some resemblance with the role played by the BBC in the UK.
  • 16. Latin American governments and media reform • Brazil and Mexico, with stronger national production markets and audiences, registered lower levels of media concentration and higher diversity compared to other smaller countries in the region • Governments in Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Paraguay and Bolivia have acted to promote media democratization through the creation of regulatory frameworks and public systems of communication • Argentina is being seen as an example by many experts • In the first government of Kirchner (2007-2011), the approval of the Law 26.522 – Lei de Servicos de Comunicacao Audio-visual, substituted previous legislation from the dictatorship • Law proposed limits on the power of media conglomerates, preventing any private TV company from owning more than 35% of the media, stating that licenses should be renewed every 10 years instead of after 20 and quotas for local production.
  • 17. Public communication infrastructure in Latin America: a history of neglect State intervention in South America has had the aim of reinforcing governmental powers rather than promoting democratic communications (Waisbord, 2000; Matos, 2008). Broadcasting has been built on a combination of political control and limited regulation. Educational and state channels are mainly owned by sectors of the Church and politicians. National broadcasting policies have also been traditionally aligned with political interests and state control. Debates on the necessity of broadcasting and media reform and regulation culminated in the first realization of a conference on the theme in 2009 (i.e. Confecom debates)
  • 18. Public communications in Brazil: achievements and future challenges Achievements of the last years include the realization of the Confecom debates; the implementation of TV Brasil and commitments towards media regulation Ministry of Communications of former government has identified five areas to tackle: 1) creation of a new regulatory framework; 2) regulation of article 221 of the Brazilian Constitution; 3) author’s copy rights; 4) Internet regulation 5) public TV regulation.
  • 19. Public communications in Brazil: achievements and future challenges * Genuine public media does not exist in Brazil, but educational stations controlled by the state or others which represent the Legislative, Executive or Judicial powers (i.e. TV Senado); • Scholars believe that only a new regulatory framework for the media can be capable of contemplating differences between the state and public TVs in relation to commercial sector • Programme for the communication sector of the Lula candidature in 2006 underscored that democratization of communications was necessary to deepen democracy • Auto-regulation of newspapers is being proposed by National Association of Newspapers (ANJ), praised by Unesco
  • 20. Facts and figures on PSB platform in Brazil Legislation on broadcasting dates to 1962, the Codigo Brasileiro de Telecomunicacoes, combining the authoritarianism of the Vargas regime, such as power to distribute licences, with economic liberalism Weak public media sector, with the respected but funded- starved TV Cultura (SP) and TVE (RJ) Ministry of Communications in May 2011 revealed a map stating that 56 MPs are owners or have relatives in radio and TV stations 50% of more than 2.000 community stations are linked to politicians (Lima, 2007)
  • 21. TV Cultura versus TV Brasil • EBC, which controls TV Brasil, was launched in December 2007 • Current restructuring of TV Cultura and TV Brasil to attend to multiple publics, with TV Cultura forming partnerships with newspapers such as Folha • TV Cultura is seen as aligned with the government of Sao Paulo, of the PSDB, whereas TV Brasil is linked to the federal administration (i.e. accused by the opposition when it was launched of being the “TV Lula”) • Academics and journalists are weary about media reform (i.e. Gabriel Priolli: “If FHC couldn’t do it, Lula either, I doubt Dilma will.”) • Sites: • •
  • 22. Quotes from interviews ‘ ...always when a government destined resources to the public TV, it wanted to be compensated by a positive representation..... We have not yet fully incorporated the notion that the public television attends to citizenship rights..... If we really have a strengthening of the public media – which will only be ‘public’ if it is really independent of governments – we will have advanced historically....In Brazil the idea that the government should interfere in social communications is like a multi- party consensus. We can see that no public television has total autonomy..The average mentality of politicians in that respect is still very backward....’ (Eugenio Bucci, journalist and former Radiobras president)
  • 23. Quotes from interviews ‘In 2005, when the mensalao scandals emerged, that was when they ‘sold’ the idea to Lula to have TV Brasil, of having a strong public network capable of competing with the private, as the government wanted a media which could be more favourable...The government wanted an instrument to defend itself, and it convinced itself that it was important. This is a contradiction with the real role that public TV should have....There is actually a lot of idealism and hypocrisy in this whole discussion... People say that all you need is another option to TV Globo for people to change channels, but the reality is that they do not, they do not change to TV Brasil. I believe that this issue has a direct relation to education as well, for a better quality education produces audiences of better quality.....more sensitive and....interested in watching the public media....’ (Gabriel Priolli, vice-director of journalism of TV Cultura)
  • 24. Challenges for public communications and media reform in Brazil • Reluctance of market sectors and some media organisations (i.e. fears of media censorship, control of content, competition, etc.) • Break the false equation of regulation with censorship of the media (i.e. threat to the freedom of the press) • Scholars believe that only a new regulatory framework for the media can be capable of contemplating differences between the state, the public and commercial sector • Study of other European regulation models (i.e. UK and Portuguese) • Document discussed in the Chamber of Deputies underlines the importance of the State in taking on responsibility for policies for public communications (i.e. guarantee funds)
  • 25. Conclusions * There must be wider access to the Internet beyond the middle classes; more players need to be producers of media content and participate more fully as citizens * More support for community radio, funding for segmented media outlets and magazines 1) Building of a broadcasting regulatory framework committed to the public interest and independent; 2) reinforcement of balance and professionalism in newsrooms, including regulation of the journalism profession and auto-regulation of the press; 3) Fortifying of the public media platform, TV, radio and the Internet, followed by an engagement with the debate over “quality” 4) Strengthening of regional, local and alternative media 5) Wider access to less privileged sectors of the population to the Internet throughout Latin America