Collaboration may be the answer.
The current debate on public service media (PSM) is a paradox. The policy backlash against profit-driven digital platforms and exacerbating forms of market failure in media provision, and of ‘quality’ journalism in particular, have weakened long-standing arguments grounded in neo-liberal thinking about the supremacy of free market forces in the delivery of media services.
This seems like good news for PSM institutions. The role they can play in promoting the public interest is being reappraised. However, the dominant narrative still represents ‘public service broadcasters’ in a state of near-irreversible decline. The argument is not new: since at least the 1980s public service broadcasting has been framed as experiencing a crisis. Yet, it seems that never before has the scale of challenges facing PSM institutions been so great, both commercial and political ones, and both in mature and ‘emerging’ PSM contexts.
The situation calls for rethinking policies and strategies of PSM institutions themselves, as well as public policies that influence PSM. Many policy dilemmas, while national, are replicated in today’s global media ecosystem in a similar form elsewhere. Public service media need to consult, and collaborate, with a multitude of stakeholders to find novel and sustainable solutions. Researchers working in the field need to rethink their research agenda and become engaged scholars, ready to listen and dive deep in the spectrum of challenges faced by PSM.
InnoPSM will connect with other ongoing policy, stakeholder and academic-driven initiatives focusing on public service media. The project will work in collaboration with Dr Caitriona Noonan and Professor Stuart Allan of the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre (PEC), based at Cardiff University, to learn from their findings and insights.