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Yle 90 years research seminar: New outlook on public service broadcasting in the era of online communications

Tutkijaseminaari Mediapoliksessa, Lauri Kivinen
Tutkijaseminaari Mediapoliksessa, Lauri Kivinen yle 90

Online services will dominate the use of media services in the future. How will this transition affect public service broadcasting in Finland and the rest of Europe?

This was the question that was discussed at the Yle 90 years research seminar at Mediapolis in Tampere on 3 June.

The key question was how extensively and in what ways will public service depend on distribution platforms in the future. Public service media aim at high-quality content and journalism and to serve all citizens. How will distribution-related decisions affect these goals? Distribution solutions play a central part as European public service companies are planning their operations.

“The success of public service broadcasting cannot be taken for granted. The media field is in a tumult: major international corporations are taking part in the competition, a new type of media use is becoming more popular, business models are leading the use of media services towards subscriber services and, in many cases, few operators are dominating the market. I'm certain, however, that public service companies will survive the new technology and the political decisions that challenge traditional operations,” said Ingrid Deltenre, Director General of EBU.

“Technologies, the ways of distribution and the role of media companies are changing all the time. Foreign social media platforms signify a gateway to the Internet for many. We need to more closely consider what type of content to do by ourselves and what to acquire from other sources, and how to distribute them using our channels and external platforms,” said Lauri Kivinen, CEO of Yle.

Traditional media services are holding on

Preliminary results of Broadcasting in the Post-Broadcast Era, a research project of the University of Tampere, were announced at the seminar.

The research project analyses the future outlook on public service broadcasting as online communications are more clearly dominating the technological and political operating environment. In addition, researchers are identifying how the perspectives and practices of public service broadcasting could be applied to online communications.

In Europe, key stakeholders of the communications policy believe that traditional broadcasting will maintain a significant position for a long time. However, estimates of general development in the field and the rapidity of changes vary from one country to the next. Nevertheless, broadband distribution is seen as the likeliest option for the distribution of broadcasting services.

The political and financial pressure to re-divide frequencies has increased. The aim is to transfer the frequencies used by public broadcasting companies to the use of the mobile network. Then again, media companies are reshaping their service ranges as they are attempting to adapt to the changes in the use of media services and the presence of new operators. The initial assumption of the study is that the joint effect of these factors may lead to a decrease in freely available TV content in Europe.

The Yle 90 years research seminar was organised by the University of Tampere and Yle. The research project (changes in communications policies and technologies) presented at the seminar is led by Marko Ala-Fossi, researcher and lecturer at the University of Tampere. In addition to Finland, the study involves Spain, Ireland, the UK, Austria, Norway, Germany and Denmark.

Online research presentations