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The people’s broadcasters

A Research Paper by Christopher Day, published by IPPR Progressive Review

It is during national crises that we discover how essential our public services truly are. Over the past two years, with the Covid-19 pandemic thrusting the country into its biggest crisis since the Second World War, the UK’s public service broadcasters (PSBs) – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – have proven themselves to be indispensable.

“It is during national crises that we discover how essential our public services truly are”

When we wanted reliable and trustworthy news, they provided it. When the government needed to tell us about new restrictions, PSBs provided the platform – 28 million people watched the prime minister announce the first lockdown.1 When schools were closed, PSBs ramped up their provision of educational content. And when national events such as Prince Philip’s funeral occurred with the public stuck at home, it was our PSBs who let us share in them together.

People use the PSBs in different ways, with some watching television (either live or on demand), others listening to radio and podcasts, and still others relying on the BBC’s website and social media feed for updates. We consume media in increasingly personalised and fragmented ways and, as a result, some have argued that the era of public service broadcasting is over.

But they are wrong…

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Christopher Day


I joined the University of Westminster in October 2019 as a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Jean Seaton and Dr Maria Michalis. Previously, I have studied at the University of Kent (BA) and the University of Cambridge (MPhil). My MPhil thesis explored attitudes towards European integration within the Conservative party in the early-to-mid 1960s, focusing especially on Young Conservatives and the European Union of Women.


6 June 2022
Published By
IPPR Progressive Review
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