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Assessing the British Public Value Test: Benefits, limitations and challenges ahead

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Abstract:

This article provides a critical assessment of the practical implementation of the Public Value Test (PVT) in Britain, the first European country to introduce it in 2007. Britain therefore has substantial experience with this regulatory tool from which other countries could benefit. The intention of the PVT has been to allow the BBC to assume new media activities only if their public value outweighs their potential adverse market impact. The article argues that the BBC’s experience with the PVT points to practical problems not originally foreseen. These problems coupled with new challenges for the BBC call for a refinement of the process. Still, the evidence suggests that overall the PVT has worked well. It has allowed the expansion, though conditional, of the BBC into new media whilst the greater degree of economic and evidence-based regulation that the BBC is now subject to has made it a credible scrutiny process in the eyes of industry stakeholders. The article maintains that the PVT has served primarily to articulate industry concerns rather than the public interest. Indeed, the emphasis on outcomes and impact together with the piecemeal approach of the PVT present a threat to the PSB ethos. It is finally argued that the main advantage of the PVT has been enhanced regulatory certainty and the establishment of delineated spheres of activity for public and commercial media organizations.

Keywords: BBC; Public Value Test; market impact assessment; non-service; public service broadcasting; public value assessment

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/macp.8.1.13_1

Affiliations: University of Westminster

Publication date: 2012-04-23

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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