Challenges of Public Service Media in the Digital Age (VIMA01c)

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Challenges of Public Service Media in the Digital Age, 5 ECTS

Public service media (PSM) was born in Europe together with radio broadcasting and it became stronger together with increasing democracy, economic growth and social welfare. Ever since, as the European states have transformed from welfare states to competition states and their media systems have become increasingly liberal, most public broadcasters have been able not only to adapt and survive but also to succeed and expand to new fields and platforms. However, now the very foundations of PSM are shaking and PSM will be in need to reinvent itself again.

We have identified at least four interrelated types of existing and oncoming challenges for public service media. First, there are political challenges. The breakdown of liberal democracy also inside the European Union has already put some PSM in increasing danger to become state media. Second, there are financial challenges. Some of them are consequences of fiscal crisis in the Eurozone; some are more politically motivated specific cuts in PSM funding. In addition, the license fee model is in crisis. Third, PSM has technological challenges. Broadcasters are fighting for their spectrum. European TV is in the middle of second digital transition while there is no joint vision over digital radio. On IP –based platforms, PSM is in trouble without net neutrality. PSM has also functional challenges. How to reach younger people and how to serve a growing number of new minorities with less money than before? In addition, what should be the relationship of PSM with social media and personified services?

Finally, we ask what PSM will be in the future. It should not be financially dependent on broadcasting (license fee), but should it still keep on broadcasting to ensure universal access to people? What the citizens could do to preserve the core of public service in a context where Internet is gaining importance, but democratic culture is losing ground? Is there any of the basic principles, which could be sacrificed without losing them all?

Course description in electronic curriculum

Course enrollment via Nettiopsu, deadline 27.10.2019


The study unit consist of 16 hours lectures and group work as an intensive course as well as research literature. Based on these materials, the students will write an academic essay to accomplish the course.

The lectures and exercises of the course aim at developing a theoretical and methodological basis for a comparative analysis of public service media and its challenges worldwide.

Responsible teachers:

Marko Ala-Fossi, Tampere University, Finland

Montse Bonet, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

Lectures and group work

Course meetings  4.11.- 7.11. at 10-12 and 13-15


Every day from 4.11.2019 to 7.11.2019
at 10:15–11:45 (1 hour 30 minutes)

7.11.2019 – Exceptional venue

Every day from 4.11.2019 to 7.11.2019
at 13:15–14:45 (1 hour 30 minutes)

6.11.2019 – Exceptional venue
7.11.2019 – Exceptional venue

Course essay


Materials and links

Re-Visionary Interpretations of the Public Enterprise (RIPE)

The Value of Public Service Media (2014)

Crossing Borders and Boundaries in Public Service Media (2016)

Public Service Media in the Networked Society (2018)