Documentaries can be considered merit goods, which are products or services that carry positive externalities for society but which are underprovided by the market because of their low exchange value. Notwithstanding the consensus on the importance of documentaries in the program scheme of public broadcasters, public broadcasting organizations do not always find it a matter of course to invest significantly in such content. Documentaries are undeniably important, but are rarely big rating hits. There is a certain tension between the substantive mission of public broadcasters and the rather instrumental, though important, ambition to reach as many people possible. We examined if documentary as a merit good takes an important place in the programming and investments strategies of the Flemish public broadcaster VRT, based on expert interviews and quantitative analyses on VRT’s program schedules. This shows that VRT’s policies concerning documentary production and distribution are rather inspired by its economic features.
Translated title of the contributionThe documentary as merit good on public service broadcasting: Theory, policies and practices in flanders
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)286-303
Number of pages18
JournalTijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap
Volume45
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

    Research areas

  • documentary, Public Service Broadcasting, Flanders, merit good, VRT

ID: 32798156