Principles of Public Service Broadcasting

Principles of Public Service Broadcasting
      Principles of Public Service                               Broadcasting

Principles of Public Service Broadcasting in the Case of ABS and SBS

Order Instructions:

– Discuss the principle of public service broadcasting in the case of ABC and SBS
– 10 references: mix of journals, book and media sources
– Double Spacing
– Please inform me earlier if the writer cannot finish the essay within today


Principles of Public Service Broadcasting in the Case of ABS and SBS


There are emerging confronting arguments as to whether ABS and SBS have evolved to fit the present media context. For instance, SBS has been heavily criticised recently due to its funding models, commercial operations, and the continued relevance of publicity-funded media   Sabir (2013). Another reason why the roles of these media broadcasts are questioned as to whether they are relevant to the present media context is the crisis of legitimacy/independence. This is mainly drawn from the rising digital migrations, globalising media, and rejection of traditional forms of media use. Therefore, the following discussion will engage in discussing some of the principles of PSB (Public Service Broadcasting) in the case of ABC (Australia Broadcasting Corporation) and SBS (Special Broadcasting Services). In addition, the paper will critically analyze whether the functions and roles of ABS and SBS are indispensable to the new media context.


Part 1

In the Australian context, SBS and ABC are the two main known sources of many radio and television stations. Chapter 6 of the Constitution of Australia gives that ABC is mandated to air programmes that have educational importance (Janssen & Crompvoets 2012). He mandate also extends to informing and entertaining people in Australia. In addition, ABS is given the function of promoting national cohesion through enhancement of cultural diversity (Ratkovic Njegovan & Sidiani 2014). Therefore, ABS authorises its stations to preach cultural diversity in all aspects ranging from sports, business, and religious matter. On top of these principles, such considerations given by ABC have its programmes have and aim for diversity agendas as well as important concerns addressing the country’s citizens. This principle should be followed to the later as failure to observe it has legal consequences (Janssen & Crompvoets 2012). It is being assured that a media house can be punished thorough legal penalties of revocation of licences or closure.

In the same Chapter 6 of Australia constitution, Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991 (SBC ACT) is found to give the legal roles of SBS. One of the distinguished functions given by this Act is that SBS is mandated to give radio and television services that are focused in the provision of entertaining and providing education to the citizens in Australia. In this regard as portrayed by Janssen & Crompvoets (2012) and Moe (2011), SBS has a role in establishing and fostering multicultural society. The contribution to meeting the communication demands of Australia’s multicultural society falls under the principles under PSB to promote diversity (Sawer, Abjorensen & Larkin 2009). According to Moe (2011), ‘SBS is more practical in Australian context, in that it has a role to promote deep understanding and acceptance of the cultural and linguistic diversity of the country’s people’. What this point indicates is that, the people of Australia will appreciate their cultural aspects when they see that those cultural aspects are aired through the media houses.

Another outstanding principle of PSB is that broadcasting is to be made available to all citizens. More importantly, the SBS Act that gives that SBS is mandated to preserve and continue to facilitate the progression of language as well as on the platform of cultural skills (Sawer, Abjorensen & Larkin 2009, p. 224). Therefore, this broadcasting service maintains this role by making sure that it aims for geographical diversity. Even the minority group in Australia constituting of the Aboriginals enjoys SBS’s services. Thus, all citizens receiving the benefits from SBS is one of the stated principles of PSB to ensure that it does not discriminate based on religion, race, skin-colour, or lifestyle (Moe 2011). To ensure they are proficient in following this principle, SBS strive to address the tastes and attentions of all diverse groups as well as providing them with opportunities, not only as consumers, Sabir (2013) but also as content providers and citizens.

Notably, provision of quality broadcast quality is another principle of Public Service Broadcasting. Provision of quality content is a decisive principle even in the international platform. Thus, provision of quality reports and news is the mandate of SBS and ABS(Sawer, Abjorensen & Larkin 2009, p. 256). SBS and ABS do know that it is punishable under the laws to bribe a source of information or threaten a source of information in the move to get information. To this matter therefore, they try as much as possible to provide news and reports that have legitimate sources. In addition, it is expected that SBS and ABS do provide news coverage and reports that are fair, believable, and objective. Therefore, (Sawer, Abjorensen & Larkin (2009) and Ratkovic Njegovan & Sidiani (2014) unanimously attest that SBS and ABS work down to earth to ensure that it furnishes present creative content, newer and fresher reports, which ethically are derived from a different and sundry perceptive. On top of that, the report and the news broadcasts should strive to holistically appeal or delight, attract advertisers and audiences (Sabir 2013). Moreover, in giving quality content, ABS and SBS broadcasts programmes that are quite unrelated to other players in the media industry.
Financial independence is another crucial standard principle of PSB. This principle is source of debate to many future analysts (Sawer, Abjorensen & Larkin 2009, p. 268). Some of the analysts argue that when independence of the media houses is limited to the government, it makes SBS and ABS to offer the broadcasts that are of low quality. This is because apparently they are economically guaranteed to get money from the government. In Australia to be specific, the government prohibits ABC from broadcasting commercial advertisings to make it rely wholly in the government’s funding. Ironically, Sabir (2013, p. 227) and Ratkovic Njegovan & Sidiani (2014) argues that the government guarantees ABS with freedom of expression, but diminishes its (ABS) other prospective sources of money. SBS also feel the same experience. SBS receives its funding or money from public grant, which is passed annually. However, as Ratkovic Njegovan & Sidiani  (2014, p. 346) contends, SBS enjoys commercial broadcasting unlike its counterpart ABS, in that it enjoy a five-minutes broadcasting of commercials per hour. This becomes one of its supplemental avenues of supplementing its budget.

Another principle that is quite debated in most media houses in Australia is whether PSB’s practices have editorial independence. Another standard principle is that PSB must enjoy editorial independence, that is, to be legally recognised as an autonomous entity (Ranganathan & Rodriguez 2010). Editorial independence is quite crucial to ensure that freedom of expression and those of journalists are protected. According to Cunningham & Turnbull (2014, p. 267), PSBs should provide ‘authority of voice’ and not the other way round. Taking ABS into context, the federal government has legislative rule over ABS to ensure it air quality broadcasts. Opponents of editorial independence argue that editorial independence exists in theoretical forms. In practical form, it is not exhibited (Ratkovic Njegovan & Sidiani 2014, p. 350). They place their argument on the fact that since ABS has the limited source of funding, in fact, from the government alone; it has a high affinity to broadcast some broadcasts that are political influenced. Inadequate funding is more likely to compromise the integrity and quality of the services given by ABS on the point that the federal government has a massive supremacy on the public grants on which ABS is dependent (Sawer, Abjorensen & Larkin 2009). When SBS comes to focus, it has much editorial independence compared to ABC. However, it solely acts on the minister’s guidelines and statements (Meier 2008). The minister may have political affiliations, which makes the critics of editorial independence fear the future of broadcasting of ABS and SBS in Australia.

Another formidable principle of PSB as given by Moe (2011) and Perisin (2013) is that it should stick to sturdy accountability traditions. Therefore, PSB has a mandate to formulate and implement an open and transparent accountability. This practice enables to appraise whereby performances as objectives are given in details. Apparently, ABS and SBS strictly know the constraints posed to them and respect them. It is liable to be punished by the law when ABS and SBS lacks a transparent accountability system (Janssen & Crompvoets 2012). ABS and SBS have been engaging in formulating policies and updating them, as well as giving feedback on their productivity. This is in together with providing recommendations of how improvements can be realised (Cunningham & Turnbull 2014, P. 240). In Australia, ABS and SBS have well-established controls to augment accountability. This control ranges from provision of incentives, effectual training, and communication, as well as the endorsement of ethics and values.

Part 2

Based on the function and roles given above, some are either important or non-important to the new media context. One of the principles, which are important to the new media context, is provision of quality broadcasts. Generally, innovation of the media houses is motivated (Sawer, Abjorensen & Larkin 2009). Notably, provisions of quality broadcasts aim at making media house to become competitive in the media industry. This is not forgetting that ABS and SBS do struggle to give quality contents by consciously promoting scientist researches, being ethical towards human rights, promotion of gender equality, as well as becoming a solid entity to mediate conflicts of political and economic grounds. Another function that is important to the new media context is adherence to all citizens. SBS, for instance, in provision opportunities to all citizens has a role towards building a media literate audience with the ability to participate vigorously in the advancement and sustainability of the services, as well as the appreciation of its contents. Some of the functions that are non-important to the new media context are editorial independence and non-independence in Australia.

When ABS and SBS are brought into the realm of this discussion, Sawer, Abjorensen & Larkin (2009, p. 287) their functions, not only do they not match the present media context, but also on future one. This is because freedom of expression is currently electrified in many societies, not only ranging from freedoms on human rights, but also from funding and editorial independence. Media analysts contend that, provision of freedom of expression and limiting the source of money to be one supply can make ABS close its radio and television stations in the future. This is apparently because they are being threatened by disastrous changing economic realities. This digital era is having the proliferation of commercial broadcasting posing an unquenchable threat to publicly funded broadcasters such as ABS and SBS (Cunningham, S., & Turnbull 2014, P. 267). The ongoing development of cable and satellite networks has a dramatic impact on access to broadcasting to the whole world. Therefore, citizens in Australia will prefer to tune to independent broadcasters than to a national broadcasting entity, which they view it as a government’s mouthpiece (Chab”Juk, & Kops 2011). Thus, the functions of the ABS and SBS can fit in the new media context if it enjoys economic and editorial independence.


In summary, the principles of PSB do strive to see that freedom of the press is adhered to the latter. However, when it comes to the ABS and SBS’s contexts, it is another case as their source of funding is constrained to the government’s sources. Therefore, editorial and economic independence are two pillars of broadcasting. This will at the end enable and motivate media house to broadcast quality programmes to the people. When this tradition is sustained, the functions of ABS and SBS will have importance in the new media context, as people will stop viewing them as being puppets of the government.


CHAB”JUK, O., & KOPS, M. (2011). Public service broadcasting a German-Ukrainian exchange of opinions. Wien, Lit.

CUNNINGHAM, S., & TURNBULL, S. (2014). The media & communications in Australia. Crows Nest, NSW, Allen & Unwin. Pp. 167-298.

JANSSEN, K., & CROMPVOETS, J. (2012). Geographic data and the law: defining new challenges. Pp. 145-245.

MEIER, H. (2009). INDEPENDENT REGULATORY BODIES AND IMPOSSIBLE JOBS: THE FAILURE OF GERMAN PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING             REGULATION, Public Administration, 86(10, pp. 133-148, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 1 June 2015.

MOE, H. (2011). Defining public service beyond broadcasting: the legitimacy of different               approaches, International Journal of Cultural Policy, 17(1) pp. 52-68, Academic Search Premier, EBSCohost, viwed June 1 2015.

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RATKOVIC NJEGOVAN, B., & SIDIANI, I. (2014). Public Broadcasting crisis as management crisis: a case study of radio television of Vojvodina, journal of East      European management Studies, vol 19, pp. 3, pp. 348-367.

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SABIR, M. (2013). Public media and Multicultural Globe, South Asian Studies, (1026-678X),  vol. 28. No. 1, pp.223-239.

SAWER, M., ABJORENSEN, N., & LARKIN, P. (2009). Australia: the state of democracy. Annandale, N.S.W., Federation Press.pp. 217-290.

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