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.
- Listen to the lecture:[audio:Jackie_Harrison.mp3|autostart=no|bgcolor=#eff5f2] (Download a recording of Harrison’s lecture (mp3, 14,9 MB).
- Read the presentation: Download Harrison’s presentation (pdf, 68 KB)
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.