Public service from broadcasting to communication

Public service communication is an umbrella term for a variety of new and traditional communication activities, Jackie Harrison says.

The term pub­lic ser­vice com­mu­ni­ca­tion can widen the debate about the future of pub­lic ser­vice broad­cast­ing, as it is an umbrel­la term for a var­i­ty of strands of new and tra­di­tion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion activ­i­ties, accord­ing to Jack­ie Har­ri­son, Pro­fes­sor of Pub­lic Com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the Depart­ment of Jour­nal­ism Stud­ies, Uni­ver­si­ty of Sheffield.

With a lec­ture titled “Euro­pean social pur­pose and pub­lic ser­vice com­mu­ni­ca­tion”, Har­ri­son con­tributed to a sem­i­nar on pub­lic ser­vice broad­cast­ing and the Inter­net at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bergen on April 26–27, 2007.

Har­ri­son placed her dis­cus­sion of pub­lic ser­vice com­mu­ni­ca­tion (PSC) in the con­text of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lems of the EU. EU cit­i­zens’ dis­en­chant­ment with the Union reached its cli­max with the “no” against the con­sti­tu­tion treaty in France and the Nether­lands in 2005. Since, the EU has attempt­ed a more open com­mu­ni­ca­tion pol­i­cy, but this is extreme­ly lim­it­ed in scope, Har­ri­son said.

Pub­lic ser­vice com­mu­ni­ca­tion should be based on a set of val­ues, Har­ri­son argued: Truth­ful­ness, trust, inde­pen­dence and respect for human dig­ni­ty and diver­si­ty. These val­ues could under­pin a EU-wide PSC mul­ti­plat­form network.

Fol­low­ing the tra­di­tions of pub­lic ser­vice broad­cast­ing, PSC should deal with these issues, Har­ri­son suggested:

  • Pub­lic pur­pose and pub­lic ser­vice: PSC insti­tu­tions should have spe­cif­ic obligations.
  • Gov­er­nance: PSC should be inde­pen­dent from gov­ern­ment and com­mer­cial inter­ests. Inter­nal account­abil­i­ty of pro­duc­ers, con­sumers and participants.
  • Con­tent: Diverse range of con­tent and infor­ma­tion avail­able to all.

In today’s sit­u­a­tion, such ideas might seem quite unre­al­is­tic. The chance for polit­i­cal endorse­ment of an expand­ed idea of pub­lic ser­vice which includes new media plat­forms, and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly is locat­ed on the Euro­pean lev­el may admit­ted­ly appear as quite slim. Still, con­sid­ered as a frame­work for think­ing about the poten­tial of com­mu­ni­ca­tion pol­i­cy, PCS serves its purpose.

Har­ri­son did not set out to spec­i­fy how PSC could be orga­nized, but did sug­gest the option of a pub­lic ser­vice com­mu­ni­ca­tor fund­ed by the EU. How­ev­er, she said that pub­lish­ers of indi­vid­ual blogs also con­ceiv­ably could con­tribute to PSC, although PSC could not be entire­ly based on spon­ta­neous communities.

See also:



ublic s




  1. […] Pub­lic ser­vice from broad­cast­ing to communication […]

til toppen