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Free Content The governance of digital switchover of terrestrial television in the European Union: The role of policy framing

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Digital switchover of (DSO) of terrestrial broadcasting constitutes one of the most critical moments of policy change in Europe because it offered a unique opportunity of reconceptualising public media space for the next era of communication. The promise of a plural and public service oriented broadcast policy legitimized efforts of citizens investing in digitization, provided public acceptance and approval to the changes set to terminate analogue television. This article explores the policy framing of the switchover process in the European Union. It finds that DSO was constructed around overly technical and economic frames in the policy, a strategy, which allowed building an argument of neutrality of technology and hence of the steps policy-makers were making. This construction did not address the exclusion and side-lining of the social and political consequences of free-to-air reduction. The article argues that this practice provided a low-conflict policy process led by the European Commission between 2005 and 2015 and showcased a paradox on European spectrum policy. The article further argues that the governance of digitalization of Europe’s screens presents a case of highly complex low-salience regulatory policy, which means muted participation of citizens and limited public debate. Ultimately, this strategy undermines democratic practice and meaningful transparency in European policy-making as it eliminates deliberations on what constitutes public interest in the 21st media context. The analyses of communication DSO policy as a matter of polity situate well with European media governance scholarship.
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Keywords: European media governance; digital switchover; media pluralism; policy framing; public service broadcasting; spectrum policy paradox

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • The Journal of Digital Media and Policy (formerly known asĀ International Journal of Digital Television) aims to analyse and explain the socio-cultural, political, economic and technological questions surrounding digital media and address the policy issues facing regulators globally. This double-blind-peer-reviewed journal brings together and shares the work of academics, policy-makers and practitioners, offering lessons from one another's experience. Content is broad and varied, ranging from a mixture of critical work on technology, industry and regulatory convergence, to the emerging wider socio-cultural and political questions such as the application of online networks, the rise of cloud computing and the Internet of Things. We intend to examine critically emerging wider questions such as the role of 'digital citizens', the regulatory environment for the new platform industry and the role of state regulation in an increasingly global media industry.
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