Press release: A new study asks ‘What is the Public Value of Public Service Broadcasting?’

13 January 2022

13th January 2022 - New research published today makes a timely and vital contribution to the debate about the future of UK broadcasting - with the BBC mid-term Charter Review expected early this year, and the government seeking changes to Channel 4.

The research published by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, was carried out by Professor Stuart Allan and Dr Tom Chivers of Cardiff University and calls for a new broader framework for measuring ‘public value’ to include consideration of social, cultural, economic, industrial, representational and civic value. The research and its proposals will be of considerable interest at this time to policymakers, media regulators, broadcasters and audiences. 

Professor Stuart Allan says:

"The question of the 'value' of Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) has long been a subject of lively debate, bringing together the competing priorities of policymakers, stakeholders and members of the public. Recent changes in media technologies, audience habits and market conditions — not least those driven by the rise of new media giants such as Amazon, Google, Apple and Netflix — have made agreeing a straightforward definition of the value of PSB even more difficult. In this paper we're propose a new typology of values — social, cultural, economic, industrial, representational and civic value — encompassing the range of objectives and obligations the UK’s PSBs seeks to fulfil. We hope our proposal will inspire a wider dialogue and deliberation over the future direction of PSB policymaking in a fast-changing digital media environment". 

With the BBC’s mid-term Charter Review due this year and the government considering a change to Channel 4's public ownership status, understanding the risks and opportunities for PSB is essential to securing a sustainable future for it in the evolving global media landscape. However, in light of conflicting perspectives on what ‘value’ actually entails, there is a  need for a rethink of regulations, structures and criteria to ensure PSBs create sufficient value for the public, the report argues. 

The paper focuses on the BBC as a case study and charts its own definition of public value since 2004. Some question whether ‘public value’ is best understood as primarily an economic measure. Whereas this paper suggests other PSB priorities — such as promoting cultural excellence, encouraging civic engagement and fostering a sense of national community — warrant a greater recognition.


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About the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC)

The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) works to support the growth of the UK’s Creative Industries through the production of independent and authoritative evidence and policy advice. Led by Nesta and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, the Centre comprises of a consortium of universities from across the UK (Birmingham; Cardiff; Edinburgh; Glasgow; Work Advance; LSE; Manchester; Newcastle; Sussex; Ulster). The PEC works with a diverse range of industry partners including the Creative Industries Federation. To find out more, visit and @CreativePEC

Image of BBC Studios in Belfast, Northern Ireland by K. Mitch Hodge