A new article finds that people living in countries with public service broadcasting are better informed about government and politics, are more trusting of other people, and have more positive civic attitudes. They also have greater confidence in democratic institutions and are more likely to engage in democratic politics.
The Political Quarterly article, which provides an overview of relevant research, also found that social trust is higher in countries with a significant public service element in their media systems.
Watching TV news is still the main way in which most people keep up with current affairs, and public channels are more highly trusted than commercial channels for the accuracy, reliability, and impartiality of their news coverage. Watching public service channels and listening to public radio stations are associated with a broad array of public attitudes and behavior that underpin democratic politics.
The findings have important implications for policy discussions about the future of public service broadcasting in an increasingly commercialized world.
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Ken Newton. Public Service and Commercial Broadcasting: Impacts on Politics and Society, The Political Quarterly (2015). DOI: 10.1111/1467-923X.12214