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1 J. Media L. iii (2009)

handle is hein.journals/joomaw1 and id is 1 raw text is: [2009] 1 Journal of Media Law 1-13

COMMENT AND ANALYSIS
The Future of Public Service Content
in the United Kingdom
Thomas Gibbons*
BACKGROUND
Public service broadcasting still has a central position in the production and content of
media programming in the United Kingdom. Yet that position has never been taken for
granted, with the rationales, organisation, financing and regulation of public service
media being subjected to continual scrutiny since the 1920s. A succession of broadcasting
committees, Parliamentary committees and Royal Commissions has been supplemented
by debates each decade about renewal of the BBC's charter and by policy consultations
prior to frequent legislative reform. The history of UK media policy has been one of
deregulation of public provision, as new markets and technologies become available.
However, the process has been gradual and incremental because, when assessing
developments in programming genres and their delivery, concerns about the possibly
negative implications for public service broadcasting have led to caution about the pace
of reform. Over the years, there have been moments when the very survival of public
service broadcasting has seemed to be at stake, but there is now a real sense that a critical
turning point has been reached, a sense reflected in the title of the recent report, Public
Service Broadcasting: Short-term Crisis, Long-term Future?, from the House of Lords Select
Committee on Communications.' That report is a response to Ofcom's Second Public
School of Law, University of Manchester.
1 House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, Public Service Broadcasting: Short-term Crisis, Long-
term future?2nd Report of Session 2008-9 (HL Paper 61, April 2009) (hereinafter 'House of Lords Report').

1

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