There are three main sources of funding for public broadcasters, a license fee, funding from government revenues and commercial sources of funding such as advertising or selling programmes. Two of these, advertising and funding from the government, pose questions on the maintenance of un-influenced information. Yet this approach to broadcasting says that advertisers can influence the programming of channels and be dictative, yet cannot the government do the same, and which of the two know more of the national identity and are committed to prioritising that over their own interests. From my point of view neither is better than the other, and both hold a certain power over the media, and the association of PSB with one of the two doesn’t particularly guarantee it as an unbiased propagator of information.
PSB has been hailed to hold the UK National identity at the centre of its existence, yet some of the channels are publicly claiming and functioning, as commercial channels .One example is ITV, which states in its corporate information the following: “ITV is a mass market commercial which aims to attract the widest possible audience by offering a range of high quality programmes that are inclusive in their appeal. On average 45 million people watch ITV every week” (www.itv.com).
ITV is currently still under regulation to perform as a Public service broadcaster. Independence from government does not relieve public service broadcasters from all responsibility towards the public whose funds they rely on and whose right to know is the reason for their very existence In the United Kingdom, advisory bodies representing different regions assist the Board by providing regional input and feedback. In general, these advisory bodies have no formal powers but their recommendations obviously carry a certain weight. The question is how much influence do they have over the function of the PSB broadcasters, and who is the judge of “public good” in the national context and cant their decisions lead to a certain level of authoritarianism?
Because the media are an effective transmitter of information between communities, one can argue that how the rest of the world gets to know in-depth, the identity of a nation where transmission is only limited to existing within their geographical boundaries. BBC has penetrated the digital market with their news channel, yet as a PSB corporation their defence is killed for they are now not only funded by the license fee, but by subscription, therefore the public canto access their digital channel loose out on their broadcasts, and they cannot be simply viewed as a corporation that caters for the public. They have also began and contributed to the rich poor divide that the commercial market subscribes to.
This approach also suggests that the commercial sector cannot play an informative role, it ignores the fact that they are educational, political, informative, creative and entertainment channels and that is how the market segments its functions. Yet, if there are regulations that control and “liberate” the Public service, there are regulations that also control and direct the commercial sector and is national identity only about the standards set by the peacock commission or can the demand for programmes by the public also reveal the characteristics nations preferences especially considering that most countries with PSB are democracies.
As much as it seems that commercial channels are committed to the rich people, public service is a committed to serving only the poor people, therefore they do not necessarily counteract the notion of the Rich/Poor divide. The PSB`s approach to national identity also ignores the fact that as citizens of a country, people should be able to influence the programming they pay for and receive rather than having programming that they feel doesn’t interact with them effectively. A national Identity is not a construction of the powers that be in the broadcasting field, but a construction of a nations effort that allows citizens to articulate what they consider to reflect on their values of identity and social construction and contribution in the nation’s media context.