Public Service Broadcasting in Post-Communist Countries: Finding the Right Place on the Map (2007)

Introduction of Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) into post-Communist countries must be considered against the background of the development and evolution of PSB in general. What are the prospects for its development into truly independent media organizations genuinely dedicated to public service and the public interest?

The framework of analysis will be based on Huntington’s concept of “waves of democratization”, Hallin and Mancini’s analysis of media systems and Linz and Stepan’s analysis of the consolidation of democracy. To assess progress in developing PSB in post-Communist countries, reference will be made to the situation in the Mediterranean countries where, according to Hallin and Mancini, the “polarized pluralist” media system has developed, based on “political clientelism”, with an “umbilical cord” linking the media and political elites.

This will be followed by an examination of political system development in post-Communist countries, its impact on media policy orientations adopted in these countries, and what this has meant for the transformation of state into public broadcasting. The process has been fraught with difficulties, given that introduction of PSB was part of a “mimetic media policy orientation” and has involved transplantation of legal and institutional structures of PSB into social contexts which failed to provide an enabling environment for them.

The lecture will conclude with an examination of the situation of PSB in Poland, one of the “leaders” of the transition period, which has nevertheless experienced many of the same problems as other countries and could be treated as a case study, illustrating all the issues typical also of other post-Communist countries.