This paper is the revised edition of “Report: Systems and Revenue Sources of Public Service Broadcasters of the World,” which was published by the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute’s Overseas Media Studies group in 2012. This new edition overviews the latest status of public service broadcasters in eight countries and regions in the world (France, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) from the viewpoint of services, corporate governance, and funding.
It has been five-plus years since the previous report, during which major countries completed the digital switchover of terrestrial broadcasting and further advanced the convergence of broadcasting and communications. European public service broadcasters surveyed in this research had finalized the legislation for the convergence by 2009, and their remit as public broadcasters have expanded beyond broadcasting to the internet services. Each of these broadcasters now has its TV content available on the internet as simultaneous delivery or catch-up services. In 2016, the BBC terminated its TV channel for young viewers, BBC Three, to go online only, and ARD and ZDF in Germany terminated some of their conventional TV channels and jointly launched a streaming service for the youth “funk.” France Television also started “Franceinfo”—an around-the-clock news ser vice that delivers news on TV and online simultaneously in 2016.
License fee systems have also been revised to meet the expanding online services. In January 2013, with an aim to secure equitable burden-sharing, Germany introduced a system of “flat rate contribution” charged to every household, regardless of the ownership of TV or radio sets. In the UK, viewing content with VOD services on BBC iPlayer used to be exempt from the license fee, but the system was reformed in 2016 to make it chargeable. Italy also changed the license fee system in 2016 to outsource the collection to electric power suppliers.
Corporate governance systems are also being altered. In 2017, the BBC Board, which is responsible for ensuring that the Corporation fulfils its mission and public purposes, was established within the BBC, while Ofcom—an independent agency—became the BBC’s first external regulator.
As seen from the above, public service broadcasters keep reforming themselves to respond to the changes in the media landscape. Issues related to securing funds for operation and streamlining will remain as challenges. In addition to this, it will be indispensable for public broadcasters to respond to the changes in viewers media use and social structure, which shall lead us to re-consider the traditional question— “What responsibilities and roles should a public service broadcaster fulfill?”