The Social Construction of Spanish Public Television: The Role and Function of TVE in a Multiplatform Environment
In light of significant transformations in the television marketplace, audiences are getting progressively disconnected from public service media (PSM) and switching their time and attention to multiplatform companies instead. This study explores how potential audiences socially construct Spanish public television and how these perceptions are shaped by citizens’ expectations toward multiplatform media companies. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 46 Spanish adults, our study shows that the social construction of Televisión Española (TVE) is influenced by positive and negative perceptions of its structure, content output, and pass performance, in what we theorize as the foundation of an inconsistent public television. We also show that audiences’ perceptions of multiplatform media companies largely condition citizens’ views on TVE, in a context where public opinion knowledge toward PSM content is largely blurred, especially among young adults. This study contributes to the growing discussions on the need for adaptation of PSM, arguing that the new multiplatform entrants transform not only viewers’ needs and wants, but also their expectations, attitudes, and perceptions toward the role of PSM in democratic societies.