Our schedule for tonight. The programming of European PSBs: its genres, origins and online presence

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


In the past decade, public broadcasters have been confronted with major shifts affecting the remit, portfolio, and financing. heavily fuelled by cutbacks on public broadcasters, the distinctiveness discussion again stands central in policy debate. While in essence, distinctiveness relates to the core values (diversity, universality, quality, etc.) and rationale (Tracey 1998; Raboy 1995; Blumler 1992) for entrusting non-political independent and accountable organizations with a specific mandate (Jakubowicz 2007: 38-41), today’s discussions most often links distinctiveness to being distinguishable from the private offerings. This article aims to critically contextualize discussions on distinctiveness within broader scholarly work on genre and genre diversity within public broadcasting. It sets out from a comparative study of the programming schedule of eight public broadcasters (Flanders, Ukraine, Finland, Portugal, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, and the United Kingdom). We compared the television offerings of the first – generalist – channels of public broadcasters (based on a sample of 2016), using a constructed week sampling and a fixed list of ten different genres in which all analyzed broadcasts were ultimately placed. Our results are compared with data provided by the EBU and the different national regulators/broadcasters. The overarching research questions are what entertainment can tell us about PSB performance, and whether or not patterns of differences between the broadcasters can be explained by country size or media system. The underlying question to this paper is to what extent genre is still valuable to measure performance and legitimacy of public broadcasters, taking into account difficulties of measuring ‘genre’ as proxy for PSB’s effectiveness. As such, the article contributes to existing work on genre, based on a consistent comparison of genre output. Our analysis shows the necessity to broaden discussions on distinctiveness beyond genre.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Vlaamse Regulator voor de Media
SupervisorMichael Opgenhaffen (Promotor)

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