What is Public service Broadcasting ?

public service broadcasting or shortened to PSB,refers to broadcasting intended for the public benefit rather than for purely commercial concerns. The communications regulator Ofcom, requires that television and radio broadcasters fulfill certain requirements as part of their license to broadcast. All of the BBC's television and radio stations have a public service remit, even those that only broadcast digitally. All stations broadcast on terrestrial analogue television such as ITV are obliged to provide public service programming as they can be viewed freely almost anywhere nationwide. The recently introduced 'third tier' of approaching 200 Community Radio services are also specifically recognised by Ofcom as being providers of public service broadcasting output, delivered under the terms of the Community Radio Order 2004. Commercial radio also has nominal public service obligations. However, the requirements imposed for commercial radio are generally fewer, normally requiring only a minimum level of news.

The BBC was the first Public service broadcaster in the UK. The next commercial television broadcaster in the UK, was Channel 4. It was set up by the government in 1981 to provide different forms of PSB. Channel 4 was required to be a public service alternative to the BBC and to cater for minorities and arts. another channel that was formed at the same time was S4C . S4C was to be a mainly Welsh language programmer. Neither was required to be commercially successful as Channel 4 was subsidised by the ITV network and S4C received a grant from the central government. However, Channel 4 was later restructured under the Broadcasting Act 1990 to be a state owned corporation that is selffinancing. When the final analogue terrestrial broadcaster, Five, launched in 1997 it too was given a number of public service requirements. These included the obligation to provide minimum amounts of programming from various genres, minimum amounts of programming originally commissioned by the channel and of European origin, and maximum limits on the number of repeats

The BBC, whose broadcasting in the UK is funded by a license fee and does not sell advertising time, is most notable for being the first public service broadcaster in the UK. Its first director general, Lord Reith introduced many of the concepts that would later define PSB in the UK when he adopted the mission to "inform, educate and entertain". a television licence is required to receive any publicly broadcast television service, from any source. The annual cost of a colour TV license is set by the Government and is currently £139.50. The BBC is paid for directly through each household TV license. This allows it to run a wide range of popular public services for everyone, free of adverts and independent of advertisers, shareholders or political interests.

The advent of digital age has brought about many questions about the future of public service broadcasting in the UK. The BBC has been criticised by some for being expansionist and exceeding its public service remit by providing content that could be provided by commercial broadcasters. They argue that the BBC can distort the market, making it difficult for commercial providers to operate. A notable example of this is the Internet services provided by the BBC. However, those who defend the BBC suggest that the BBC needs to provide new services and entertainment, to remain relevant in the digital age. Furthermore, there are also questions about the public service commitments of the commercial broadcasters. All commercial channels that broadcast solely on digital platforms do not have public service requirements imposed. After digital switchover many of these channels will have the same coverage as the analogue commercial broadcasters. This has raised the question of how the analogue commercial broadcasters, with their costly public service obligations, will compete on a level playing field with such digital channels. ITV has been attempting to significantly reduce its obligations to produce and broadcast unprofitable PSB programming, citing the increased competition from digital and multichannel television. Similarly, Channel 4 has projected a £100m funding gap if it is to continue with public service broadcasting after digital switch-over. As a result, Ofcom has recently been consulting on what direction PSB should take in the future

Notable Public Broadcasters
As well as the BBC, there are other notable PSB’s we engage with on a daily basis. However, all these have to follow certain principles formed by the regulators. ITV-the members of the ITV Network and GMTV all have a responsibility to broadcast various programming of public importance on their analogue stations. This includes quotas for news, current affairs, independent and European programming, children's and religious programming, and output containing subtitles, signing and audio description. In addition, Channel 3 stations are legally obliged to screen party election broadcasts on behalf of all the major political parties, and also other political events such as the Budget. Channel 4: Like ITV Channel 4 also follows rules: Demonstrates innovation, experiment and creativity in the form and content of programmes; appeals to the tastes and interests of a culturally diverse society; makes a significant contribution to meeting the need for the licensed public service channels to include programmes of an educational nature and other programmes of educative value; and exhibits a distinctive character.