Danish Public Service Broadcasting in transition: From monopoly to a digital media environment – a shift in paradigms
Poul Erik Nielsen
(University of a Aarhus, Denmark)
ABSTRACT: Danish Public Service Broadcasting has gone through two consecutive transitions. The first in the late 1980s and early 1990s was a transition from a paternalistic public service monopoly, Danmarks Radio, to a so-called Danish model with two dominating non-profit public service stations in a competitive television system. The second is an ongoing transition from public service broadcasting in an increasingly politicised and competitive television system to public service media in a com- plex digital media environment. The article analyses the transition processes in a media system and media policy approach with focus on political, juridical, economic, and institutional perspectives. The article presents two main arguments. Firstly, the institution Danmarks Radio, the politicians, and most of the national cultural elite experienced the first transition as revolutionary, and in respect to agenda setting, mode of address, and institutional changes the transition was revolutionary, but the ‘real’ revolutionary transition is the current transition to a digital media environment where the original idea of broadcasting is challenged by fundamental changes in the relation between media institutions and media users. Hence the whole concept of public service has to be reconsidered, and the public service institutions will have to reinvent new positions for themselves. Secondly, Danish media policy in general and public service broadcasting in particular has historically been dominated by a national cultural and political paradigm, but in the current situation are (national) cultural issues marginalised and the media policy is governed within international economic and legal paradigms.