Deputy Head of Department of Film, Media & Journalism
University of Stirling
Matthew Hibberd is a new entry in our gathering of professors and experts. The title of his speech was Hard Times for the BBC? Well yes, they certainly are. It is a moment of strategic reassessment and reconsideration, with staff cuts and the revision of the Corporation's business plan. Then there is the problem of contents. One only has to think of the controversy created by the wiretapping issue, that created such a big commotion in the communications sector. The fact is that the public service is a situation of difficulty and we must start to worry about the general state of affairs. After all, the public service is extremely important. If it didn't exist we would probably have to invent it, for there are fundamental and political reasons for its existence.
For example communications can have a crucial role from the point of view of the democratic right to information and contents. There is a need for restructuring in this direction as regards the media as a whole. The BBC's current system of funding is probably the best possible option and it should therefore be preserved until a better one can be found. The BBC as well as all the current media are now going through an era of economic, but also ideological, austerity and w e must react effectively to this situation now. The public service media are defending themselves from attack, but they also have a crucial role in supporting technological and economic innovation. These new requirements need widespread support.
Continuation of the real-time summary
General content of Professor Matthew Hibberd 's speech:
Hard Times for the BBC? Public Service Broadcasting in the Age of Economic Austerity
Any historical analysis of Western European broadcasting can identify a set of changing principles governing the organisation, content and ethics of broadcasting. These principles have come to be known as public service broadcasting (PSB), and it is the development of these principles in the contemporary age that I want to examine in this talk. Although the term PSB can be traced to the pioneer of the American commercial radio system, David Sarnoff, the concept is more closely linked with John Reith who, between 1922 and 1936, developed a theoretical analysis and practical implementation of PSB as the BBC’s first General Manager and Director General. Reith famously believed that a public service broadcaster should be a public-owned entity; but that it should remain independent from the state providing a greater degree of autonomy and impartiality in its dealings with different political and commercial actors. Reith’s second central idea was that a public service should provide cultural enlightenment that is to inform, educate and entertain by providing everything that is best in every human department of knowledge, endeavour and achievement. PSB has a distinctly European heritage can be traced to the immediate post-Second World War period. The restoration of state and society relations in many Western European countries, safeguarded by new democratic conventions - Declarations, Constitutions, Statutes - constituted a unique opportunity to encourage greater civic and political democracy and economic and social equity.
PSB has also proved resilient to a number of crises which have threatened its long term survival. For example, laissez-faire economic policies coupled with technological developments in the 1970s and 1980s, and which saw the greater commercialization of European broadcasting, did not fundamentally undermine PSB. The move to digital broadcasting in the past decade has also afforded public service broadcasters the possibility of developing additional TV, radio and web services for new audiences. There is little doubt however that we are now entering a renewed period of ‘crisis’ for PSB. 2010 has brought tougher economic times for European countries and drastic cuts in public spending are expected to hit PSB particularly hard, including in the UK where public spending could be cut by up to 25% in the next few years. This paper will look at the prospects for the BBC and PSB in these challenging economic times in relation to its social role in 21st Century Britain.
28 aprile 2009 MEDIA CLUB CONFERENCE
Auditorium Fondazione Musica per Roma
APPLICAZIONE DELLA ROYAL CHARTER DELLA BBC
E RIORGANIZZAZIONE CROSSMEDIALE DEL SERVIZIO PUBBLICO
NEL REGNO UNITO