Television in the digital age: what role for public service broadcasting?

Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The television broadcasting industry is subject to an exceptionally high level of public intervention, but one of the reasons for this, the absence of competition, is fast disappearing as households become multi-channel. This paper is concerned with whether a case for public service broadcasting remains and, if so, what form it should take. There are several other potential sources of market failure, but a lack of evidence often makes judging their practical significance difficult. To help overcome this problem and provide the basis for improved public accountability, the paper proposes several measures of public service broadcasting performance. The paper also considers when the appropriate remedy for these failures might take the form of dedicated public service broadcasters like the BBC, RAI, ARD, France 2, etc. It suggests that, in general, targeted supply side interventions of this sort only make sense when they address a supply side failure and that dedicated public service broadcasters are to be preferred to alternative types of targeted intervention, like an ‘Arts Council of the Air’, on contractual grounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-157
Number of pages46
JournalEconomic Policy
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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