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Do ‘we’ really matter? An analysis of user motivations for online interaction with public service radio

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In public service media (‘PSM’) literature and policy documents, many assumptions are being made about the increasingly active relationship users have with the media that they ‘consume’. Moreover, in recent years public broadcasters have adopted a more consumerist logic, often conceptualizing users as consumers and not as citizens. This study aims to bring in a user-centred approach in PSM theory and empirical research. More specifically, we study the motivations and thresholds for people to actually interact with online PSM content, asking questions such as: ‘What drives users to share or comment upon PSM content online?’ and ‘How do these motivations and thresholds relate to their role as citizen?’. To answer these questions, we focus on innovative public service radio formats more specifically, a field that is largely understudied. In the theoretical part, we differentiate between personal, social and altruistic motivations to interact with PSM content. For the empirical part, we conduct ten focus groups with radio listeners between the age of 15 and 34. In conclusion, we argue that media users are very often aware of their different roles as both consumer and citizen and that the latter is especially manifested in their motivations to share public service radio content.
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Keywords: Facebook; VRT; citizen; interaction; public service media; radio; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Vrije Universiteit Brussel – imec-SMIT

Publication date: April 1, 2017

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  • The Radio Journal is committed to high-quality, diverse research in the arena of radio and sound media, from broadcast to podcast and all in between. We look for articles that explore the production, circulation and reception of radio and creative soundwork, addressing historical and contemporary issues in sound-based journalism and media studies from a wide range of national and transnational perspectives.
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