26 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2008
Date Written: August 1, 2008
This paper argues for continuing public support for public media, but a dramatic transformation of the way that public media is conceived and structured. Specifically, media policy needs to focus more generally on public media, not public broadcasting. Public broadcast subsidies should be redeployed on a platform-neutral basis to support many kinds of media production and distribution. These subsidies should support podcasting as well as radio, citizen journalism as well as conventional journalism, and distributed systems of content creation as well as conventionally produced programming. What is needed is a system that focuses on supporting a wide range of noncommercial programs and services, and that promotes universal access to, and opportunity to engage with, quality media content.
This chapter presents ideas for transitioning the system of public broadcasting to a system of digital public media, focusing on television. This transition involves at least three components: (1) restructuring the current system so that funds are diverted from the operation of broadcast facilities; (2) redefining the entities that are entitled to public media funding; and (3) revamping the system of copyright exemptions and licenses so that public media entities have access to content on reasonable terms, can distribute public media content across all platforms, and can make content available for citizen engagement and re-use.
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