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Public Service Broadcasting in the Online Television Environment: The Case for PSB VoD Players and the Role of Policy Focusing on the BBC iPlayer

A Research Paper by Maria Michalis, published by International Journal of Communication

Focusing on the case of the BBC iPlayer and placing it within broader national and international developments, this article assesses key challenges that public service broadcasting (PSB) faces in the era of online TV. The advent of subscription video-ondemand (SVoD) and associated market transformations have accentuated preexisting funding, political, and market pressures on PSB. Still, the relationship between PSB and SVoD is not purely antagonistic. The evolution of the BBC iPlayer in this wider context shows that online TV does not (as yet) represent a radical new interpretation of PSB because VoD services are closely linked to linear offerings, and there is evidence of the fluidity between online and broadcast spheres, and the continued relevance of television. Against an increasingly commercial, fragmented, closed, and data-driven environment, the article makes the case for supporting PSB VoD services and explores how online TV might help revive PSB through personalization and public service algorithms. Media policy can play an enabling role by addressing data practices, algorithms, and prominence.

Keywords: public service broadcasting (PSB), BBC iPlayer, video-on-demand (VoD), online TV, media policy, personalization, public service algorithms, prominence


Maria Michalis

About Maria Michalis

Maria Michalis is Reader in Communication Policy. She has a background in political science and international relations and has a PhD in Communication Policy.

Her research interests are in the field of communication policy and regulation with a view to advance understanding of how technological, market, social, political and ideological changes impact upon and are negotiated through power relations and structures as manifested in policy and regulation, primarily in the European Union but within a comparative context. Her current research interests include public service media; Internet regulation; and the interplay between the technological convergence of television and telecommunications/internet, policy and business models.


Maria Michalis
11 January 2022
Published By
International Journal of Communication
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CAMRI | Public Service Broadcasting in the Online Television Environment: The Case for PSB VoD Players and the Role of Policy Focusing on the BBC iPlayer - CAMRI
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