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Communication and Social Policy, Vol. 4 - 1997, No. 4

Public Service Broadcasting And New Media Technology: What the BBC Has Done And What It Should Have Done

, pages: 59-74

This article analyses the response of one of the world's leading public service broadcasters to new media technologies - satellite, cable, digital broadcasting and interactive information technologies. It shows how and why the BBC has largely abandoned any serious attempt to exploit these for public purposes. It argues that the BBC.s attempts to exploit them for commercial purposes are both ineffective and threaten even its traditional public service remit. The article suggests that the BBC.s policies on new technology have contributed to a pervasive .common sense. in UK political debate that new technologies cannot be utilised for public service goals. The article takes issue with this "common sense" by demonstrating how generally accepted arguments for the continued validity of public service broadcasting apply equally to public service use of new technology. Finally, the article argues that an expanded notion of public service broadcasting cannot be divorced from a more general challenge to current free-market orthodoxy.

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