Public service broadcasting – a renewed need in the time of recommender systems?

December 6, 2022

(by Peter Ormosi[i]) Digitisation has entirely rewritten the way we consume audio and audio-visual content. Some of the market failures that characterised the analogue broadcasting era, have seemingly disappeared in a world where evaporating fixed costs mean that the most niche content is now available online. In this world, there are increasingly vocal arguments that there is no longer need for Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) if the market can also provide for even the most diverse audiences. But the large platforms which host vast amounts of digitalised content, may not quite be the land of milk and honey some had thought for consumers, and certainly not for the producers of content. The reason is to do with how the content is provided on the platform, through algorithmic recommendations, which are likely to suffer from biases. These biases have the tendency to create a world, that suffers from the same market failures (including the disproportionate underrepresentation of diverse, and niche content) that justified PSB in the analogue era. Because of these market failures, a new generation of PSB could have a critical role in ensuring the provision of online content that adheres to objectives, such as the provision of creative, high quality and distinctive output and services in a way that reflects, represents, and serves diverse communities.

Read the rest of this entry »