Herve Bourges, chairman of French public television, in an interview with the UNESCO Courier, describes the European principles of public service television: "...the basic principle of service in the audiovisual media is to enable the small screen to serve the interests of the community. One characteristic of democracies is that they encourage respect for impartiality, so that communications are not governed by economic interests or political pressures. ...In practice, ...there is a budget, authorities to which it is answerable, red tape, a governing body, civil servants, unions. [In contrast, commercial television has advertising] the be-all and end-all for shareholders...and no amount of rules and regulations can transform a supermarket into a cultural centre." (From the The UNESCO Courier, October 1992, 4.)
Bourges defends supporters of public service broadcasting when he emphasizes "impartiality" and "community service." He also shows his bias when he refers to commercial television as a "supermarket" which cannot be regulated. Whether or not public service broadcasting can or should reach the levels of a "cultural centre" remains a part of this controversy.
An attack against public broadcasting in Germany is currently
being waged by conservatives. According to a February 3 Reuters report,
Saxony state premier Kurt Biedenkopf, one of the authors of the attack on the ARD, said the network would be superfluous in a few years because state affiliates would produce all their own programming. He told a meeting of Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU) in Bonn that the ARD national programme, which often carries critical reports on Kohl's government, could then be scrapped... "I see a tendency among some CDU leaders to try to discipline public television," FDP secretary general Guido Westerwelle said.
ARD links 11 regional public broadcasters and shares programming responsibilities among them. Its decentralised structure is supposed to reflect Germany's federal system.
As its biggest member, WDR produces several political news
magazine programmes, which are usually highly critical of Kohl, and provides
correspondents for ARD in politically important posts like Bonn, Brussels and
Washington. ARD and ZDF, the more conservative second national public network
based in Mainz, are financed by a mix of advertising and licence fees.
Advertising revenues have fallen by about half in recent years with the growth
of private television.
Similar arguments are used in the United States. For example,
consider the following excerpt from an Associated Press wire report dated
December 6, 1994:
House Speaker-designate Newt Gingrich says he wants to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, long on the hit list of conservative Republicans.
"One of the things we're going to do this year, I hope ... is to zero-out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which has been eating taxpayers' money," the Georgia Republican said Tuesday night on his weekly program on National Empowerment Television (NET), a conservative cable channel.
...Conservatives repeatedly have complained of what they see as a liberal bias in public broadcasting. Gingrich told NET viewers that they "have been paying taxes involuntarily to subsidize something which told them how they should think and NET is free." He said conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and those on NET were "a real factor" in the November elections that gave Republicans control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
"Because people can tune in 24 hours a day on NET," Gingrich said, "they can see people right in their living room who aren't being programmed by The Washington Post or redesigned by ABC News or edited into little pieces."
He urged viewers to send donations to the cable channel "to help sustain their talk shows and their network and keep alive their ideas as the alternative to the elite."
Gingrich told viewers that Americans
"have been paying taxes involuntarily to subsidize something which told
them how they should think."
National Public Radio (NPR), however,
sees it differently. According to a statement on NPR's World Wide Web server,
The vast majority of public radio
funding comes from listeners who pay dues and become members of their
community's public radio station. The Federal government, through the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting, accounts for about 17 percent of the public
radio system's operating revenues. Stations use money from membership dues,
foundation grants, federal support throught the CPB, and other sources, to
produce local news and cultural programming and to purchase nationally-produced
PBS President Ervin Duggan ...said he
sees an opportunity for PBS to become "the place that American people go
for serious public affairs and serious discourse," but warned that
competing with commercial networks might push PBS into some of the lowest forms
of programming. "The temptation to do tawdry, tabloid talk (shows) would
become 10 times what it is now," he said. He said the
"distinctiveness" of PBS and the "courage" to air
controversial programs such as "Jihad in America," which was broadcast
last month, "would disappear, would evaporate, if we became a commercial
network." Duggan said going commercial would force PBS to art up
programming, "driven by ratings to the ever more trivial and bizarre and
meretricious, and that is not what we were created to do."
From an article in the San Francisco
Examiner (December 12, 1994) by John Engstrom of the Seattle
Cordt Schnibben, "Oma springt vom Dach," in Der Spiegel, No. 34, 1993, 161. The German state broadcasting companies' own evening newscasts, however, are still drawing bigger audiences than the commercial stations. The Tagesschau, for example, is watched by 9.44 million people; Heute has an audience of 6.76 million, while RTL Aktuel gets only 3.57 and Newsmagazin only 2.24 million. According to another Spiegel report,
Der Erfolg der Tagesschau, mit fast
9,5 Million Zuschauern Stütze der ARD, lässt die private TV-Konkurrenz nicht
ruhen. Sat-1-Aufsichtsrat Joachim Theye liess im vertrauten Kreis durchblicken,
er wollte mit Spielfilmen ab 20 Uhr die Bastion der "roten" Tagesschau
1995 endlich schleifen.
[Translation mine:] The success of the Tagesschau, with nearly 9.5 million viewers the backbone of the ARD, will not leave the TV competition in peace. Joachim Theye, head of the board at Sat-1, revealed in a private conversation that in 1995 he intended to insert films in the 8 p.m. time slot in order to finally be rid of the "red" Taggeschau.
See: Der Spiegel, 34/1994, 80.
See the discussion in Heikki Hellman and Tuomo Sauri, Suomalainen Prime-Time (Jyväskylä: Jyväskylän yliopisto, 1988).
According to a Helsingin Sanomat report by Juha-Pekka Raeste from September 8, 1994:
Mainostajat uskovat mainontansa kasvavan ensi vuonna rajusti. Mainostajien liiton tekemään kyselyyn vastanneista mainostajista 45 prosenttia aikoo lisätä mainontaansa ensi vuonna...
Perinteisistä mainosvälineistä kasvua on odotettavissa 1995 erityisesti aikakauslehdissä (+24) sekä kotimaisessa televisiossa (+23).
[Translation mine:] Advertisers believe that their advertising will substantially increase next year. According to a questionaire created by the Association of Advertisers, 45 per cent of those who responded intend to increase advertising next year...
Traditional forms of advertising are
expected to increase in 1995, particularly in magazines (+24 per cent) and
Finnish television (+ 23 per cent).
The European Council, in its Brussels meeting of December 1993, requested that a report on the future of Europe's "information infrastructure" be prepared for its June 24-25, 1994 meeting in Corfu. This report, when completed, was signed by a group of "prominent" Europeans (including Martin Bangemann, Carolo de Benedetti, Pehr Gyllenhammar, Gaston Thorn) and dealt with specific reccommendations for consideration by the European Union and member states.
On the basis of the Bangemann report, the Council decided to adopt "an operational programme defining precise procedures for action and the necessary means." Concerning media ownership, the report emphatically stated that "urgent attention should be given to the question of how we can avoid divergent national legislation on media ownership undermining the internal market. Effective rules must emerge to protect pluralism and competition." (Emphasis mine.)
The Bangemann report, therefore, stresses the importance of such concepts as "pluralism" and "competition." Concerning competition, the report states: "Competition is a key element in Europe's strategy. The application of competition rules should reflect the reality of the newly emerging global markets..." (Emphasis mine.)
In Britain, for example, commercial radio is successfully winning increasingly larger audience shares from the BBC. (From BBC WSTV News, August 2, 1994.)
The MacArthur Foundation, a non-profit charitable foundation, is one example. "...established by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur in 1978. The Foundation is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States. In addition to the Initiative in the former Soviet Union, the Foundation has established grant-making programs in a number of substantive areas." Posted in the media.issues newsgroup on the IGC networks (by firstname.lastname@example.org).
From a UPI report on Saturday, February 5, 1994. The report is about "Nova, Eastern Europe's first nation-wide commercial television station," which "went on the air" in the Czech Republic on Friday, February 4, 1994, "to provide what its director considers TV for the average Joe." According to the report, "Nova is the brainchild of five communist-era dissidents, which gave up plans for 'intellectual' TV in favor of the deeper-pocketed common man. They hold 12 percent of the company, but the key shareholders are US. philanthropists George Soros and Ronald Lauder, together with Ceska Sporitelna, the Czech savings bank."
The Scandinavian Broadcasting System
S.A. (SBS), based in Brussels, Belgium, but predominately owned by the American
Broadcasting Company (ABC), has purchased a number of Finnish locally owned,
commercial radio stations, including Turku's Radio Sata (100% ownership),
Tampere's Radio 957 (75% ownership), Helsinki's Radio City (50%) and
Nuorisokanava (33%). According to a Helsingin Sanomat press report:
Richard St. Johns, head of the London-based SBS, says that the company discovered four years ago that the electronic media in Scandinavia were in the process of being deregulated. The company was especially interested in television stations after the (broadcasting) rules change.
According to St. Johns, "The market was rather young when we made our first investment. At that time the part which television played in the market for advertising in Scandinavia was only in the range of a few percent. Elsewhere in Europe it was around 30-40 per cent." [Translation mine.]
Lontoosa työskentelevä SBS:n pääjohtaja Richard St. Johns kertoo yhtiön havainneen neljä vuotta sitten, että sähköinen viestintä oli Pohjoismaissa vapautumassa. Erityisesti yhtiö oli kiinnostunut televisiokanavien sääntelyn purkamisesta.
"Markkina oli varsin nuori, kun
teimme ensimmäiset investoinnit. Silloin television osuus mainosmarkoista oli
Pohjoimaissa vain parin prosentin luokkaa. Muualla Euroopassa se on 30-40
prosentin luokkaa", St. Johns sanoo.
Juha-Pekka Raeste, "Ulkomainen SBS tunkeutui suurkaupunkien radioihin," Helsingin Sanomat, December 18, 1994.
See Ito, "Theories on Interpersonal Communication Styles from a Japanese Perspective: A Sociological Approach," Jay G. Blumler, Jack M. McLeod, Karl Erik Rosengren, eds., Comparatively Speaking: Communication and Culture Across Space and Time, (Newbury Park, London, New Delhi: Sage, 1992), 238-268.
Compare also: Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language (New York: Doubleday, 1959).
For a discussion of controls over public service television, see Heikki Hellman and Tuomo Sauri, Suomalainen Prime-Time (Jyväskylä: Jyväskylän yliopisto, 1988) or Bernt Oestergaard, ed., The Media in Western Europe (London: Sage, 1992).
For a definition of cueing, see: Roger Fowler, Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the Press (London: Routledge, 1991).
James Winter, "Truth as the First Casualty: Mainstream Media Portrayal of the Gulf War," Unpublished manuscript, Copyright 1991, Communication Institute for Online Scholarship, Inc.
See Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988) and Todd Gitlin, The Whole World is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and Unmaking of the New Left (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).
Astrid Ertelt-Vieth, Kulturvergleichende Analyse von Verhalten, Sprache und Bedeutungen im Moskauer Alltag, Beiträge zu Slavistik XI, Herbert Jelitte, ed., (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1991).
Gunter Kress, "Critical Discourse Analysis," Robert Kaplan, ed., Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, II, 1990, 92.
As predicted earlier by Postman. See: Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Penguin Books, 1986).