Challenges and Opportunities facing Public Service Broadcasing. By Shiv Satchit
Public service broadcasting worldwide is confronted with increasing challenges from rapid transformation of the media ecology due to digitalisation in the globalised world of internationalisation, liberalisation and deregulation. The digitally converged technology, network, devices, industry and media have evolved into an integrated, overarching and complex global ecosystem. The consequent new media topology has a dual impact on the reform of public service broadcasting (PSB): (a) a new modus operandi in content creation, storing, post-production, syndicating and distribution on the supply side and a similar transformation on the demand side and (b) the fragmented regulatory policy needs to be upgraded and realigned with globalised media rules and regulations. Hence, the adaption of public service broadcasters to the new multiplatform environment is contingent upon a hotly contested policy framework to reflect the changing norms of broadcasting to broadband and mobile television.
In many countries the past two decades have witnessed a digital switch-over which has resolved the technical constraint of 'spectrum scarcity' as one of the two rationales for PSB, resulting in an increase in spectrum capacity and lowering the costs of entry into the media market led to a growth in television channels. This has triggered a spiral motion leading to increased competition for public service broadcasters. The competitive environment has created media segmentation and audience fragmentation which have worsened the financial insecurity of PSBs. The impact of rapid media developments on the revenue of both private channels and commercial PSBs is evident. Besides, technology also has implications for the core values, characteristics and the determinants of PSB that legitimise it to ensure public interest.
Technological innovation has led to the creation of real-time content (text, images, audio, video, over the top (OTT) applications, IPTV, voice over (VOIP) instant messaging. It has also enabled a three-tier growth sector: (1) telecom, (2) wireless and (3) broadband. This latest transformation is encompassing television and radio broadcasting, internet, the new media as well as the print media.
The ensuing complex and digitally networked multiplatform environment is the fusion of two distinct technologies; broadcast and broadband. Technological change has a direct influence on the strategy that the media industry uses, and the suitability of an organisation’s response in this area determines its future (Kung-Shankleman, 2008). Does multiplatform jeopardise the principles of PSB namely: universality, diversity, independence and distinctiveness at risk? Collins' argument lends credibility to technological determinism: Satellite transmission, cable, and web-casting have destabilised PSB's key claims to public funding, notably its provision of diversity and innovation'. (Richard Collins, 2000)
Most importantly the reconfigured media landscape has led to changes in media markets, media politics and financial arrangements in a challenging economic environment. The anti-PSB position opposes regulation on the ground that globalised television has inundated the market whereas the pro-PSB lobby counter-argues that despite abundance the legitimacy of PSB need to be protected on the ground of market failures. The answer depends on a number of socio-cultural, economic, political, regulatory and technological considerations of the country. In Europe there is an ideological challenge to the PSB which is probably more threatening than technological shifts and the concomitant changes in audience behaviour that are imminent but highly unpredictable.(Irini Katsirea, 2008). It is assumed that this is shared by PSB in India. This paper aims to examine the polemical debates surrounding the ideological justification for the reform of the traditional PSB.
This research aims to investigate the government’s policy options and the roadmap for the transformation of India's PSB into Public Service Media for the digital age.