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Public service media, civil society and transparency

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The contribution looks at a recent decision of the constitutional court in Germany according to which the number of politicians represented within the television council and administrative council of the ZDF (the second nationwide public service broadcaster [PSB] in Germany) should be limited to one third of the whole council with more representatives of civil society coming in, and the councils should act with more transparency. It is argued that the concepts of civil society and transparency are interrelated. It reviews the role of civil society in modern democracies and looks at how and with which benefit public service media (PSM) can relate to it. It is shown that two different interpretations of civil society – a moderate one and an emphatic one – are at the base of the German case regarding the reform of the broadcasting council. The emphatic one – and this is the normative argument – is the present need in order to bring public service broadcasting closer to the public sphere and sustain its existence. In a second step the contribution looks at the value of transparency as one important instrumental element of democratic governance and how this is implemented by different European PSBs. Thus, with the example of the German case, civil society and transparency are discussed in relation to normative orientations for PSM in Europe.
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Keywords: Constitutional Court; Germany; ZDF; broadcasting council; civil society; public service broadcasting; transparency

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ruhr-University

Publication date: 2016-09-01

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  • The International Journal of Digital Television will describe and explain the transition to digital TV and wider trends in television. As switchover happens across the globe and television's operations and audiences are transformed, the International Journal of Digital Television will be at the forefront of efforts to understand the changes and developments.
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