Public Service Broadcasting

Public Service Broadcasts are programmes made for the benefit of the public and are funded by the public without thought of profit or commercial gain. PSB is supposed to be unbiased – unbiased by advertising and political opinion, it should create a space where ideas can be shared, also known as a public sphere.

In the UK, we would commonly associate Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) with the BBC (British Broadcasting Company). Channel 4 also has a remit of PSB despite being partially funded by advertising. Both broadcast to the British population.

The purpose of the BBC is to inform, educate and entertain the nation. They are also influenced by the government by some degree as the BBC are used as a channel to communicate to the public in a way where broadcasting leads to public debate and opinion and to voting and democracy. You can see this in my drawing below:


Between broadcasting and the public are the gatekeepers. If you look back at my last post about Eli Pariser’s TED talk, you will recognise the term gatekeeper as the people, the editors, that allow certain content to filter through to people. For the BBC the gatekeepers decides what people will watch on a Friday between 9pm and 10pm, for example. More so in the 20th century than the 21st: this synchronised the nation to the same routine all fixed around the TV timetable, and synchronised British beliefs.

What should the BBC be broadcasting?  How should they represent the British people? Let’s think about minorities in society. Should they be represented through stereotypes, or rather presented more realistically? But its not just the content of the BBC that is under analysis, so is the way it operates and how it is funding. As the current BBC charter runs out, will the decision be made to axe the license fee? Will the BBC move to funding through advertising or subscription? Should the BBC be more independent of the government?

These are questions surrounding the BBC at the moment so please let me know your thoughts.

Rachel Measures


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