Analysis of the Relation Between and Impact of Public Service Media and Private Media
87 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2016
Date Written: 2016
This report is based on examination of more than a thousand academic and stakeholder studies on the relation between and impact of public service media and private media. It presents a closer review focusing on the most relevant 36 academic publications and 16 industry publications. We find that —
1) There is a significant amount of research that assess the political impact of public service media. We review 23 academic studies and 4 stakeholder studies. The evidence-based consensus in this area is based on a growing number of studies by different researchers using different kinds of data and approaches, with the majority concluding that public service media have a net positive impact on (a) the amount of hard news produced and (b) levels of political knowledge, and, by extension, they may also (c) incrementally increase political participation. It is important to note that this research often also find the same positive impact for some forms of private sector media, most notably morning newspapers and that research still suggests that especially newspapers produce the largest proportion of news output in most countries.
2) There is less research on the social impact of public service media. We discuss 11 academic studies and 5 stakeholder studies that examine public service media impact on social trust, broader knowledge about society (beyond politics), and the degree to which media content reflects the diversity of society itself. The studies reviewed tend to point towards a net positive impact of public service media when it comes to trust, knowledge, and diversity. But the limited number of studies means that there is little or no replication and hence no basis for identifying an evidence-based consensus on the social impact of public service media. American research has suggested that private sector media can help increase social cohesion, but other researchers argue that media undermine social capital. There is no evidence-based consensus in this area.
3) There is little research that assesses the market impact of public service media. There are very few academic publications on this subject, and most of them are of limited relevance when it comes to assessing the likely market impact of public media in the contemporary media environment. The most robust research studies carried out in this area are funded by stakeholders, including government agencies, public service media organisations, and private sector media organisations (and in the latter two cases findings tend to support the funders’ political priorities). We review 2 academic studies and 7 stakeholder studies. On the whole, existing studies provide little evidence for a negative market impact of public service media upon domestic private sector media. But the limited number of studies and the dearth of independent research means there is no clear evidence - based consensus. The academic and stakeholder research reviewed thus provide s strong evidence that public service media have a positive political impact, some evidence that public service media have a positive social impact, and little evidence that public service media have a negative market impact.
Note: Downloadable document is available in Danish and English.
Keywords: journalism, news, public service media
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