The Political Independence of Public Service Broadcasters
Title: The Political Independence of Public Service Broadcasters
Author: HANRETTY, Chris
Citation: Florence, European University Institute, 2009
Series/Report no.: EUI PhD theses; Department of Political and Social Sciences
In this thesis, I demonstrate that the degree of political independence that a public service broadcaster has depends on the degree of legal protection given to it, and on the size of the market for news in that country. The latter affects broadcaster independence by creating more standardized and professionalized news, which in turn reduces politicians’ incentives to intervene in the broadcaster. The former affects broadcaster independence by making it less likely that such intervention will be effective. I demonstrate these claims in two ways. First, I conduct a large-N statistical analysis of 36 public service broadcasters (PSBs), in which I demonstrate that legal protection news market size are statistically significant predictors of PSB independence (as I operationalize it), and that other suggested explanatory factors — party system polarization and bureaucratic partisanship — have no effect. Second, I carry out a comparative historical analysis of six European PSBs—Radiotelevisione Italiana, Radiotelevisión Española, Radio Telefís Éireann (Ireland), the British Broadcasting Corporation, Danmarks Radio, and Sveriges Radio and its associated companies (Sweden) — and substantiate the claims made in my statistical analysis. In particular, I demonstrate that where the market for news was bigger, broadcasters capitalised on pre-existing journalistic experience, adopting the house-styles of press agencies and learning from journalists’ associations. Conversely, where the market was small, that experience could not be drawn on, and broadcast journalism attracted political intervention.
LC Subject Heading: Television broadcasting -- European Union countries; Mass media -- European Union countries; Television programs, Public service -- European Union countries; Television and politics -- Europe; Public broadcasting -- Political aspects -- Case studies; Public broadcasting -- Europe -- Case studies
Defense Date: 18/12/2009; Examining Board: Adrienne Héritier (EUI/RSCAS), Anker Brink Lund (Copenhagen Business School), Gianpietro Mazzoleni (University of Milan) (External Co-Supervisor), Alexander H. Trechsel (EUI) (Supervisor); François Mény Prize for the Best Comparative Study of Political Institutions, 2010.; Version of thesis published as a book "HANRETTY, Chris, Public Broadcasting and Political Interference, Abingdon/New York, Routledge, 2011, Routledge Research in Political Communication"
Type of Access: openAccess