A Blind Spot in Public Broadcasters’ Discovery of the Public: How the Public Values Public Service

Natascha Just, Moritz Büchi, Michael Latzer


Confronted with new technological options, changing usage patterns and rising criticism, public service broadcasters (PSBs) are paying fresh attention to the public as a target for accountability. This article first investigates how PSBs are repositioning themselves through increased responsiveness to and collaboration with the public and assesses the permissibility of such strategies, bearing in mind the traditional ethos and core principles of public service. The second part reacts to the finding that, while there is much talk about the public and the need to reconnect, little is known about the public’s perception regarding the importance of the idea of public service in times of media change. Results of a Swiss representative case study show that people still consider public service highly important in times of the Internet. Unexpectedly, linear regression and structural equation modeling reveal that this assessment is virtually independent of sociodemographics and individual values.


public service broadcasting, accountability, public service, institutional and individual values, representative survey, structural equation modeling

Full Text: