«Hallvard Moe Dissertation for the degree philosophiae doctor (PhD) University of Bergen Public Broadcasters, the Internet, and Democracy Comparing ...»
the Internet, and Democracy
Comparing Policy and Exploring Public Service Media Online
Dissertation for the degree philosophiae doctor (PhD)
University of Bergen
the Internet, and Democracy
Comparing Policy and Exploring Public Service Media Online
Copyright: Hallvard Moe (Part I, and Part II, Article 1);
Sage Publications (Part II, Article 2, 4, and 5);
Intellect Books (Part II, Article 3).
Public Broadcasters, the Internet, and Democracy Comparing Policy and Exploring Public Service Media Online Hallvard Moe Dissertation for the degree philosophiae doctor (PhD) University of Bergen Abstract This thesis is a study of public service broadcasting facing a digital media system. Its focus is on internet services since the mid-1990s. With a comparative design, the thesis discusses how public service broadcasters seized opportunities and handled challenges related to the internet, and how national and supranational regulatory regimes and policy actors coped with public service broadcasting venturing online. I concentrate on publicly owned former monopolists, assessing four such institutions in three states: the British BBC, Norway’s NRK, and the ARD and the ZDF in Germany.
I argue that traditional practices of media policy do not suddenly change in the digital era. Rather, settings for public service are to a large extent still defined within well-established frameworks, and dependent on the conditioned legacies of each state’s political culture. Discussing similarities and differences in the development of the institutions’ inter- net activities, and their corresponding national regulations, I find the de- velopment characterized by ad hoc solutions. This also applies to the EU policy regime, built on a competition law-logic. With the latter regime, I argue, we are incapable of grasping the autonomous democratic func- tions of public broadcasters’ online services. Moreover, the regime pro- vides insufficient space to play out national differences.
The thesis goes on to explore the democratic functions of public broadcasting institutions in an online environment. With a founding in normative public sphere theory, I contend that there is a potential in on- line communication not only for dialogue, but also for dissemination.
Both communicative forms should be utilized by public service actors in ways that consistently counter processes of enclosure and balkanization in the public sphere. On this basis, I develop a scheme for public service media online. By scrutinizing marginal parts of the cases’ internet activities I lastly explore this scheme, and the limits of public broadcast- ers’ publicly funded online offers. Thereby, I aim to revitalize discussions about the functions of public service as a media policy tool in the digital era. In my view, public service media remain relevant. The thesis substantiates why, and outlines how.
Sammendrag Denne avhandlingen er en studie av allmennkringkasting i møte med et digitalt mediesystem. Avhandlingen fokuserer på utviklingen av internettjenester siden midten av 1990-tallet. Med et komparativt design analyserer jeg hvordan allmennkringkastere utnyttet mulighetene og håndterte utfordringene knyttet til internetts framvekst. Videre undersøker jeg hvordan nasjonale og overnasjonale regulatoriske regimer og politiske aktører taklet allmennkringkasternes bestrebelser på internett. I de komparative analysene konsentrerer jeg meg om offentlig eide tidligere monopolister: BBC i Storbritannia, norske NRK og Tysklands ARD og ZDF.
Jeg argumenterer for at tradisjonelle mediepolitiske praksiser ikke plutselig forandres i møte med digital teknologi. Allmennkringkasternes vilkår defineres fortsatt innen veletablerte rammeverk, avhengig av nasjonale politiske kulturers særtrekk. Den komparative analysen av allmennkringkasternes internettjenester og deres nasjonale reguleringer viser at utviklingen har vært preget av ad hoc løsninger. Dette gjelder også for EUs regime, som er basert på en konkurranselovgivningslogikk.
Jeg viser hvordan EU-regimet ikke gir tilstrekkelig rom for nasjonale ulikheter. Med utgangspunkt i et slikt regime klarer vi heller ikke å gripe det demokratiske potensialet i allmennkringkasternes internettjenester.
Avhandlingen fortsetter med en utforskning av hvilke demokratiske funksjoner allmennkringkasterinstitusjonene kan inneha på internett. Med normativ offentlighetsteori som grunnlag argumenterer jeg for at det er et potensial i internettbasert kommunikasjon, ikke bare for dialog, men også for disseminering. Begge kommunikasjonsformer bør utnyttes av allmennkringkastingsaktører på en måte som motvirker innhegninger i, og balkanisering av, offentligheten. Jeg utvikler så et forslag til hva allmennmedier på internett kan bestå av. Til slutt tester jeg dette forslaget, og grensene for institusjonenes offentlig finansierte aktiviteter, gjennom en diskusjon av tre marginale internettjenester fra case’ene.
Målet er å revitalisere diskusjoner om allmennkringkasting som et politisk verktøy. Etter mitt syn forblir allmennkringkasting relevant. Avhandlingen underbygger hvorfor, og viser hvordan.
Contents List of publications
Part I: The final contribution
Public service broadcasting in the digital era
Public service broadcasting and the internet
The articles: findings and arguments
The research field and the approach of the present study.................19 Studying public service broadcasting in the digital era
Studying public service broadcasting and the internet
The approach of the present study
Public versus commercial?
Broadcasting and democracy
Broadcast media and modern society
The rationale behind broadcasting regulations
The birth of public service broadcasting
Defining public service broadcasting
From broadcasting to the internet
The history of public broadcasters’ auxiliary activities
Categorizing public broadcasters’ internet services
The internet and the public sphere
The internet, policy, and public broadcasters
Theorizing public service and democracy
The origins of research on public service broadcasting and democracy..... 78
Criticism and revision
Against a limiting view of politically relevant communication
Meeting the challenge raised by the model of agonistic democracy.............87 Implications for the present study
Comparing media policy
Comparative analysis: definitions and strategies
Comparing across nations in a globalized world
Sources and their uses
Conclusions to the thesis as a whole
Part II: The articles Article 1: The contexts and strategies article
Commercial Services, Enclosure, and Legitimacy:
Comparing Contexts and Strategies for Public Service Media Funding and Development
Strategies and regulatory frameworks
Implications for public service legitimacy
Article 2: The national policy article Public Service Media Online? Regulating Public Broadcasters’ Internet Services – A Comparative Analysis
The comparative design
NRK: ambitious approach and obscured regulations
BBC: wide-ranging service with a clarified status
ARD: moderate scope under strict regime
Discussion: understanding similarities and differences
Conclusions, and challenges ahead
Article 3: The supranational policy article Between Supranational Competition and National Culture?
Emerging EU Policy and Public Broadcasters’ Online Services...... 215 EU policy and public service broadcasting
BBC: incorporating an online syllabus?
ARD and ZDF: the limits of the remit online
NRK: the internet services’ place in the remit
Implications – and a possible way forward
Article 4: The dissemination and dialogue article
Dissemination and Dialogue in the Public Sphere:
A Case for Public Service Media Online
Notions of public service media online
Media in the public sphere: online communication as contrasted to broadcasting
The potential of online communication – and its problems
Broadcasting and dialogue
The internet and dissemination
Public service media online
Article 5: The marginal services article Discussion Forums, Games, and Second Life: Exploring the Value of Public Broadcasters’ Marginal Online Activities
Outline of an argument for public service media online
First tendency: assessing individual online services in isolation
Second tendency: online services as an appendix to broadcasting............... 278 Third tendency: public broadcasters as a supplement online
Appendices Appendix 1: The ARD member institutions
Appendix 2: Screen shots: the cases’ main website front pages
Appendix 3: Postscript – updating The contexts and strategies article and The national policy article
Appendix 4: Screen shots: the marginal services
xi List of publications
The five articles constituting part II of this thesis are all single-authored by Hallvard Moe, and have all been published elsewhere. I have not revised the articles for inclusion in the thesis. Notwithstanding some basic formatting, the articles appear as they did when submitted for their original publication (see appendix 3 for a brief postscript updating the two empirical articles which were finalized first). Here, I list the time of final submission and original publication, as well as copyright information, along with the complete reference for each article.
Article 1: “Commercial Services, Enclosure, and Legitimacy:
Comparing Contexts and Strategies for Public Service Media Funding and Development”, pp. 51-69 in Gregory Ferrell Lowe and Jo Bardoel (eds) From Public Service Broadcasting to Public Service Media. RIPE@2007.
Göteborg: Nordicom. Final version submitted August 2007 and published January 2008. All rights reserved. Copyright Hallvard Moe, 2008.
Article 2: “Public Service Media Online? Regulating Public Broadcasters’ Internet Services – A Comparative Analysis”. Television & New Media 9(3): 220-38. Final version submitted September 2006 and published May 2008. All rights reserved. Copyright Sage Publications Ltd, 2008.
Article 3: “Between Supranational Competition and National Culture? Emerging EU Policy and Public Broadcasters’ Online Services”, in Ib Bondebjerg and Peter Madsen (eds) Media, Democracy and European Culture. Bristol: Intellect Books. Final version submitted March 2008 and published autumn 2008. All rights reserved. Copyright Intellect Books, 2008.
Article 4: “Dissemination and Dialogue in the Public Sphere: A
Case for Public Service Media Online” Media, Culture & Society 30(3):
319-36. Final version submitted June 2007 and published May 2008. All rights reserved. Copyright Sage Publications Ltd, 2008.
Article 5: “Discussion Forums, Games, and Second Life - Exploring the Value of Public Broadcasters’ Marginal Online Activities” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14(3): 255-70. Final version submitted December 2007 and published August 2008. All rights reserved. Copyright Sage Publications Ltd, 2008.
This thesis is the result of a four-year research project. Not surprisingly, I started out with a pretty wide scope, and a vague idea about what I was up to. During the project’s course, the scope has gotten narrower, and my thoughts clearer. The project began with a general interest in looking at recent developments related to public service broadcasting. It grew into a comparative study of media policy as public broadcasters venture on to the internet, combined with critical discussions of what these broadcasters can contribute online.
I have worked on several texts throughout the project period.
Five of them are presented here as research articles. This is, then, a socalled article-based thesis. It consists of two parts. Part II is the five articles. From different perspectives, and through different analyses, they all deal with public broadcasters, democracy, and the internet by comparing media policy and by exploring public service media online.
The official statutes of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Bergen call part I of an article-based PhD-thesis sammendrag, summary in English. Somewhat confusingly, the same statutes specify that the text should not only summarize, but also juxtapose the different articles’ research questions and conclusions, and discuss them with a general perspective. Informally, the part is sometimes referred to as a kappe – cloak or cape in English – connoting something covering or wrapping the articles. Others refer to it as The final contribution, signalling the text’s presumed place in the chronology of the writing process, as a piece for substantiating or add to the different articles.