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Enrico Menduni: introduction to the debate

Turin Prix Italia, Rai – 24th september 2009

Uwe Hasebrink

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Hans Bredow-Institut fuer Medien Forschung, University of Hamburg, Germany.

Public value for Europe?

Paper to be presented to the Prix Italia seminar “Is building a European public service television possible? After the Lisbon Treaty: problems and prospects”

This presentation will discuss the main question of this seminar – “Is building a European public service television possible?” – against the background of recent developments of media politics in Germany.

The first part will rephrase the main question into “Is public service television in Europe possible?” The starting point is the German State Aid Case: The European Commission regards licence fees in Germany as state aid, which is contested by the German State governments. The compromise agreed upon to solve this case in 2007 (Beihilfekompromiss) stipulates some requirements which the German States – which have the legislative competence for broadcasting matters – have met by means of an amendment of the Interstate Treaty on Broadcasting 2009. From now on, new or changed internet services must pass a Three-Step-Test to check whether or not the service in question falls within the public service remit. The Three-Step-Test serves to examine whether new online and telemedia contents comply with the public service remit and, if this is the case, whether they contribute in a qualitative way to editorial competition. The State Aid Case has not only changed the legal framework in Germany. Also, the European Commission has obviously used the experience of the case for drafting the amended communication on broadcasting to declare its opinion on how to judge state aid cases concerning public broadcasting in the future.

Taking up the core concept of public value the second part will rephrase the main question into “How can public broadcasters in Europe produce public value for Europe?” Starting with a short discussion how to define public value on the European level, several options for public service television will be considered with regard to their strengths and weaknesses: a) Europeanization of national programmes, b) developing specific content for segmented transnational audiences, and c) offering programmes on a pan-European level.