The notion of public service media is used to describe public broadcasters’ provision of services that contribute to the democratic, cultural and social objectives of society, and this on multiple devices and across various technologies. While most research focuses on the theoretical case for public service media, this contribution analyses how public broadcasters strategically position themselves as providers of public service media. What are their distribution strategies in a market that is no longer dominated by the media themselves, but is characterised by a growing concentration of power in the hands of the so-called platforms and a continuous influx of new entrants? The article is based on a qualitative document analysis of public broadcasters’ strategies in Flanders, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Complementary expert interviews were also carried out. Our main finding is that public broadcasters are distributing more and more varied types of content online, but that digital-only content remains limited and is considered as a subsidiary activity. Ample reference is made to the surrounding environment as a means to legitimise the existence of public broadcasters. However, this is not yet translated into concrete and focused distribution strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1011-1028
Number of pages18
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number7
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

ID: 46814889