WELFARE AND COMMUNICATIONS: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE, PUBLIC SERVICE MEDIA AND DEMOCRATIC PROCESSESDr. Carolina MatosLSE Fellow in Political CommunicationsMedia and Communications Department of the London Schoolof Economics and Political Science
Plato on expressing an opinion “I say that to speak is to express an opinion, and that opinion consists of an explicitly pronounced discourse” Plato (c427-47BC)
Key Points - The public versus private dichotomy and its relationship to the media The private versus public dilemma Press freedom and free speech: from Mill to contemporary debates The role of newspapers and the public interest : historical and theoretical perspectives Media systems in comparative perspective: the case of UK/US, Southern Europe and Latin America Public service ethos and the public media revisited (Splichal, 2007: Keane, 1998; Matos, 2008) Public service media in the UK, US, Denmark and Finland (Curran, Iyengar, Brink Lund and Salovaara-Moring, 2008) Some conclusions and current/future challenges – seminar questions
Free speech and democracy: historical and modern perspectives Freedom of speech today and a free press: a continuous struggle or a past fight of the 18th/19th century? Press struggles marked history of development of European press Press in the 19th century was an important medium to communicate ideas – i.e. Press is considered the most important “organ” of public opinion...... (Splichal, 2007) “Modern debates on the media appear to conceptualise democratic media and their significance for public engagement and participation by stressing their political independence and the inviolability of the private property right....” (Splichal, 2007, 238) “While historically the press developed as an instrument of liberal thought, it was soon corrupted by private interests and capital....” (Splichal, 2007)
Free speech, the public sphere and the public interest Current concern: a) distortion of the traditional (liberal) democratic functions of the media towards market interests B) preoccupations with the public interest The Habermasian critique and the decline of the public sphere amid growing media commercialisation in the 20th century Key liberal assumptions around free speech and the democratic role of the media: 1) the achievement of “truth” through unrestricted discussion; 2) free press...to protect the autonomy of civil society from despotism; 3) necessary to provide information and enable free debate (Scammell; 2000).
Classic liberal media theory What are some of the duties demanded of the media?:1) Act as a watchdog and scrutinise governments2) To provide accurate, correct and intelligent information of daily events3) Reflect the spectrum of public opinion and diverse groups4) Serve as a forum for the exchange of comments/criticisms Classic text: Four Theories of the Press (Siebert, Peterson and Schramm, 1956) The public/private dichotomy – i.e. can private commercial broadcasting serve well the public? (Splichal, 2007)
Limits due to commercialisation Criticism is that the political media have become more commercialized….and the negative impact of new technologies …is that news is faster than ever but not necessarily more informative Lichtenberg makes distinctions between individual rights of free expression and institutional freedom of media organisations Worries that giant media organisations exploit the 19th principle to avoid accountability (i.e. State “interference”) O’Neill – “freedom of the press does not require a licence to deceive. Free press can and should be accountable”
Restrictions on free speech Lichtenberg (1990,104) states 3 factors which function as constraints on free speech in the media: 1) News organisations belong to large corporations where interests influence what gets said; 2) News organisations are pressured to reach large audiences...avoiding demanding coverage; 3) Close ties between media and governmental officials; 4) Characteristics of the media and functioning (i.e. news routines) can result in the “narrow display of ideas”
Three Models of Media Systems (Hallin and Mancini) Mediterranean Democratic Liberal (Southern Corporatist (North America) Europe) (Northern Europe)Newspaper Low circulation; High circulation Medium elite-orientedPolitical High parallelism; External Neutralparallelism external pluralism; pluralism; party commercial press; politics/broadcast press; PSB internal pluralism autonomyProfessionalization Weak;journalism Strong Strong political activism professionalization; professionalization; not differentiated institutionalised self- non-institutionalised regulationRole of the State Strong state Strong state Market dominated; intervention intervention; strong weak PSB PSB
Comparing media systems continued Anglo-American or Liberal media is taken as the norm against which other media systems are measured Characteristics of democratic media: 1) degree of independence from the state; 2) pluralism versus diversity of views and 3) protection of press freedom. Journalistic professionalism is widely used to compare media systems (i.e. Issues of autonomy and codes of practice) UK system – “hybrid” – newspapers are seen as more partisan than commercial; strong PSB in contrast again to the US Multiple media systems – no real uniform model for democratic media in any part of the world
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.
Unesco’s definitions of PSB “PSB is broadcasting made for the public and financed and controlled by the public. It is neither commercial nor state-owned. It is free from political interference and pressure from commercial forces. Through PSB, citizens are informed, educated and also entertained. When guaranteed with pluralism, programming diversity, editorial independence, appropriate funding, accountability and transparency, public service broadcasting can serve as a cornerstone of democracy.” (in Splichal, 2007, 250-251)
Purposes and characteristics of public service broadcasting (Ofcom, 2008) Purposes: 1) Informing our understanding of the world through news and analysis; 2) Stimulating knowledge and learning through content that is accessible; 3) Reflecting UK cultural identity and 4) Representing diversity and alternative viewpoints through programmes that reflect the lives of other people within the UK and elsewhere. Characteristics: 1) High quality; 2) Original new UK content; 3) Innovative; 4) Challenging; 5) Engaging and 6) Widely available “These purposes.....encapsulate the reasons audiences believe public service content to be important.”
PSB tradition and citizens’ wider knowledge of politics (Semetko and Scammell, 2005) “Public service broadcasting was empirically conceived in early 20th Europe as a paternal nation building “service” or as a system with a cultural mission....in order to defend it against commercial pressures.... Despite the efforts, commercialisation and fragmentation first occurred in the newspapers in the 19th century.....soon prevailed also in broadcasting.....”(Splichal, 2007, 255) However, 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 with commercial system (in Matos, 2008)
Media System, Public Knowledge and Democracy: A Comparative Perspective (Curran and Iyengar, 2008, 4) American model – Market forces with minimal state interference; social responsibility journalistic ethos British dual system – in-between the pure market (US) and public service (Denmark and Finland) Finland and Denmark - traditional public service modelViewing figures:* In Finland, the two main public TV channels had a 44% share of viewing time in 2005 (Sauri, 2006); in Denmark, their equivalent had a higher share of 64% in 2006 (TNS/Gallup, 2007) and in the UK, two BBCs and C4 had 43% of viewing time in 2006 (BARB, 2007) * The American PSB accounts for less than 2% of audience share (Iyengar and McGrady, 2007)Methods: content analysis of two main TV channels and daily newspapers of each country combined with survey
Newspaper patterns and comparisons between the four countries (in Curran and Iyengar, 2008) Mainly unregulated and commercial entreprises In the US, newspaper circulation has been in decline for several years (i.e. New York Times). Similar pattern in Britain, where 10 national dailies compete – five serve small affluent markets; the other five are directed towards a mass market and are entertainment-driven (i.e. Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and The Sun) Denmark has three competing national dailies (i.e. The national broadsheet Jyllands-Posten, the tabloid Ekstra Bladet and the free sheet Nyhedsavisen). Finland – regional papers included the national broadsheet Helsington Sanomat, regional daily Aamulehti, the national tabloid Ilta- Sanomat and the free sheet Metro.
Table 1: Distribution of News Content(1) TELEVISION US UK FIN DK Hard/Soft News Hard News 63 60 83 71 Soft News 37 40 17 29 Domestic/International News Domestic 80 71 71 73 International 20 29 29 27 NEWSPAPERS US UK FIN DK Hard/Soft News Hard News 77 40 54 44.5 Soft News 23 60 46 55.5 Domestic/International News Domestic 66 83 62 71 International 34 17 38 29 Sample: 19.641 newspaper articles and 2.751 television news
US versus European broadcasting: the expansion of commercial television and some consequences“ The world view of British and American television is significantly different from that of the two Scandinavian countries. Both Finnish and Danish television distribute their coverage of foreign news very evenly between three categories: their continent (Europe), their wider geo- political zone (in the case of Denmark, this is US, Iraq and Afghanistan) and the rest of the world. By contrast, both American and British television channels devote a much smaller proportion of their foreign news time (respectively 5% and 8%) to other countries in their continent: and in Britain’s case much less attention to the rest of the world. Their main focus.....is overwhelmingly on their geo-political attachments, in which Iraq and Afghanistan loom large.” (Curran, J., Iyengar, Shanto, Brink Lund, Anker and Salovaara-Moring, Inka, 2008, 12)
Table 2: Percentage of correct answers to international hard news questions International/Hard News Items US UK FIN DEN Kyoto 37 60 84 81 Taliban 58 75 76 68 Darfur 46 57 41 68 Srilanka 24 61 46 42 Maliki 30 21 13 20 Annan 49 82 95 91 Sarkozy 33 58 73 79 Milosevic 33 58 72 78
Table 3: Percentage of correct answers to hard and soft news questions in domestic and international domains US UK FIN DK Total International hard news 40 59 62 67 58 Domestic hard news 57 67 78 78 70 International soft news 54 79 70 68 68 Domestic soft news 80 82 91 85 84
Media visibility, public knowledge and social inclusion (in Curran and Iyengar, 2008) Knowledge gap between social groups is greater in America than in the other European countries National TV in European countries is more successful in reaching disadvantaged groups – i.e. PSB in Finland, Denmark and Britain The greater degree of economic inequality in the US, compared with Europe, is probably the main cause of the large knowledge disparity in the US Importance of PSB to democracy and as an educational tool - PSB gives greater attention to public affairs and international news, and thus fosters greater knowledge in these areas, than the market model, contributing to a diminution of the knowledge gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged, contributing to a more equitable pattern of citizenship
PSB and the public interest : some historical and theoretical perspectives 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 Keane – PS as “outdated” and the public interest as a struggle of the 19th century Implication is that the concerns with the public interest are not fully grounded in our current “post-modern” context of ……global events transmitted via 24hours news channels to global audiences……(Matos, 2008). “The type of “rational” publicness that developed with newspapers and the reading publics cannot be compared with the kind of publicness that emerged with TV and the viewing publics. It constructed a new type of public, the general audience. The availability of broadcasting...widened the notion of “public interest” via the deliberate inclusion of ordinary people into the public domain” (Splichal, 2007, 253)
PSB at a crossroads: some key debates Paddy Scannell – UK PSB has had a significant role in widening access to quality debate and information to all sectors of the public independent of socio-economic status Arguments that question 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) More public participation in the production of content - i.e. Beckett’s defence of networked journalism for PSB to adapt and survive “…public service media must be a service of the public, by the public and for the public…” (Splichal, 2007, 255)
Ofcom’s Second PSB Review (September- December, 2008) – will the market deliver? “In a range of areas, the market..does not make much contribution – current affairs, nations and regions programmes, challenging UK drama.....and factual programming for children. “Viewers have access to a wider range of content than ever before, on digital TV and online....But they provide very little original programming in the genres under most pressure on commercial public service channels...” “No matter how high the quality of Sky News, it does not yet represent an alternative to ITV1 or BBC news...” “In the digital media, the potential exists for new commercial provision of content which meets public service purposes, but online business models remain uncertain”. “We need a more flexible model of intervention that focuses public funding on areas in which the market cannot deliver....”
What contribution could digital platforms make to the purposes of PSB? (Ofcom, 2008, 44-46) Changes in the media landscape will continue with: 1) Pay-TV platform operators and online content providers; 2) Internet enabling unparalleled access to niche content; 3) Enhanced viewer choice through DVRs, on-demand services, video on the Internet; 4) new services on digital terrestrial television. The Internet is seen as already playing a role in achieving PS purposes, however it is not substitute for high quality TV. 62% of Internet users claimed they had used content matching PS. Internet was used for finding information about health services (23%) and government or local councils (23%)
Latin American broadcasting has adopted US model Commercial broadcasting has expanded in the light of (authoritarian) State intervention Straubhaar (2001, 134) has highlighted the importance of the role that the then strong state in the 70’s assumed in shaping national TV systems in countries like Mexico and Brazil 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 wider engagement of Brazilians in the market economy (Matos, 2008).
PSB in Brazil: a state or a public media? Historical traditions - commercial TV market dominance in Brazil versus weak, starved-funded public media mainly controlled by regional politicians and Church interests Recent developments: 1st National Forum of Public TVs (May of 2007), resulting in the Preliminary Suggestions for a Model of Public Broadcasting... Aims: to give voice to minorities, universalise information rights, excellence in quality and democratic ideals Launch of TV Brasil in December 2007, composed of TV Nacional de Brasilia, TVE from RJ and TVE from Maranhao Current discussions – beyond suspicion of use of TV Brasil for propaganda purposes Beyond phase of attacks from conservative sectors (i.e. “TV Lula”)
Facts and figures on PSB platform in Brazil Weak public media sector, with the respected but funded-starved TV Cultura (SP) and TVE (RJ) 50% of more than 2.000 community stations are linked to politicians (Lima, 2007) 30% of Brazilian senators and MPs have concessions of radio and TV stations (Legislative year 2006-2009) Senate TV, community and university channels expanded in the 90’s due to deregulation EBC (Empresa Brasileira de Comunicacao) now is little over a year old. Further development is vital, if key aim is for PSB in Brazil to expand debate on economic inequality, gender bias and social exclusion of segments of the population
Some conclusions and further challenges PSB is still vital for democratic deliberation and for cultural and educational emancipation, both for advanced and emerging democracies “...in the future public service purposes should be delivered across platforms as well as on linear TV” (Ofcom, 2008, 51) Some challenges: 1) Can media systems, be them public or private, be ever truly free from either political and/or economic constraints 2) Can the private broadcasting serve the public interest? 3) How can the public service media overcome its identity crisis, avoiding accusations of paternalism and elitism?4) “PSB must become more public, made by the public for the public in order to survive the digital age and its multiple publics”
Seminar activities 1 1. Discuss the role that the state has had in public communications in Denmark: a) What have some of the benefits been for public knowledge? b) What are some of the challenges that the public media system currently faces today? What solutions would you propose? c) How is it different from the private media? d) Can the state still have a role in stimulating plurality of viewpoints in the media and boost diversity?
Seminar activities and questions 2 I . Discuss the private versus public dichotomy in the media and its effect on public knowledge and citizenship. II. Examine the public media in the UK, US and Finland and Denmark in a comparative perspective: a) Taking the example of each country, what have some of the benefits for public knowledge been? b) What are the key challenges that PSB is facing today in European countries? c) What role can it have in developing countries?