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Yle and BBC, public service pioneers in digital development

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A recent study of European public service companies commends the ability of Yle’s news programming to develop in the rapidly changing field of digital media.

The study, Public Service News and Digital Media, was conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. It compared the news operations of six European public broadcasters in the increasingly digital media environment. The countries included in the study were Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the UK.

The study indicates that Yle and the BBC have performed best; they have focused on digital development, whereas the rest have attempted to adjust to changes.

New digital approaches

Yle and the BBC have introduced innovative digital services in their news operations, developed mobile services and promoted the development of new digital approaches. They have also demonstrated a desire to experiment and accepted the possibility of failure.

According to the study, European public broadcasters typically face both internal and external challenges in going digital. It might be difficult for organisations to adjust to changes in their operating environment. The funding of many public service companies has been cut. The political climate and the juxtaposition with commercial media are resulting in pressure. In many countries, social media is the main source of news, rather than news provided by public service broadcasters.

Social media strategies

Yle and the BBC both have powerful social media strategies. Both are in a technically advanced media market, their funding is sufficient, and compared to other public service companies, they are protected against lobbying.

Both extensively reach their audience with their online news content. In addition, people in Finland and Britain are more likely to read their news on the public broadcasting company’s site than in social media.

Public media service companies should be capable of adjusting to media environment changes much more rapidly. The study says that if that does not happen, they will lose their relevance and will not reach a wide, varied audience.