Public service broadcasters have a “fleetingly short space of time” to find a better financing model – and without guaranteed prominence on smart TVs, “PSB is dead, it is over”. These were just two of the stark warnings aired at an RTS panel discussion “Small beer or big deal: Should we still care about PSB?”.
Public Service Broadcaster
With Ofcom’s ‘Small Screen: Big Debate’ consultation on the future of public service broadcasting (PSB) having just closed, and the DCMS Select Committee having just published its report on the future of PSB, an expert panel takes a look at what kind of PSB system we want over the next decade.
Jennifer Anafi-Acquah, Assistant Producer
Emily Bell, Founding Director and Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism, Tow Center for Digital Journalism
David Mortimer, Managing Director, STV Studios
At first glance, the outlook looks less than sunny for traditional broadcasters faced with competition from Netflix and the other streamers. Dig a little deeper and the situation looks a lot more nuanced.
That was the main takeaway from the second of two Steve Hewlett Scholarship debates, “British broadcasting in crisis?”, organised jointly by the RTS and Media Society.
On the eve of the publication of Ofcom’s much-anticipated review of public service broadcasting (PSB), big names from the BBC and Channel 4, past and present, discussed whether British broadcasting was in crisis.
Ofcom warned that PSB is unlikely to survive in the online world without an overhaul of broadcasting regulation. It said that the public service broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, STV, Channel 4, S4C and Channel 5 – could also fulfil their obligations online, and that the public service remit could be extended to the big streamers.
Google the words “public service broadcasting” and you’ll see that the first few links relate to a well-known band that has played at Glastonbury, the Royal Albert Hall and Brixton. Its first album was called Inform – Educate – Entertain.
Only after that will you find links to Ofcom’s page on public service broadcasting and the Government’s new Public Service Broadcasting Advisory Panel.
When Broadcasting House was opened in 1932, the front of the building was likened to the prow of a ship. With a commanding view that befitted the vessel’s bridge was the grandest office. It belonged to John Reith, the first Director-General. But the office above his, acknowledged as the second-grandest in the building, with equally magnificent wood panelling and an even loftier view down Langham Place, was that of the chief engineer.