iVision and the BBC: Building Public Value

Michael Klontzas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Breaking with conventional wisdom that sees public service broadcasters as conveyors of content in line with historically shaped socio-political ideals, centred on quality, access, diversity and independence, evidence suggests that PSB is often the driving force behind key technological innovations serving public policy aims. In the drive towards wholesale digitalisation and the accelerated introduction of an information society, this hitherto understated function is now deemed critical and comes to the fore. More specifically, recent public policy initiatives in the UK, culminating to the 2006 White Paper, openly assign the mission of contributing to the process of ‘building digital Britain’ to the BBC, the flagship public service broadcaster. This vision of digitalisation is defined in
broad terms in the policy discourse, as involving all platforms indiscriminately. The BBC’s contribution, designed to entice users to a digital future and simultaneously cement the continued relevancy of the institution in the 21st century, finds expression in a variety of implemented and proposed digital services deliverable over a range of digital platforms, including television and radio, the internet and mobile networks. This paper seeks to interrogate the host of controversial and closely scrutinised internet services offered by the BBC in the light of the digital vision articulated in the public policy discourse. These services shift the emphasis away from the time-honoured broadcasting paradigm to a more interactive approach. Through widespread application of emerging Web 2.0 practices, the users are now invited to participate, and generate and share their own content. The imminent iPlayer, the on-demand television and radio catch-up online facility (pending regulatory approval), promises to free users from the straightjacket of linear, scheduled
programming, allowing them to time-shift and possibly space-shift their viewing and listening experience around their personal choices and needs. These initiatives are not developed in a vacuum. They are not merely part of an evolutionary process. They are expressions of a certain policy agenda
and historically situated conceptualisations of the public interest and ‘public value’. Their appropriateness is evaluated on this basis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-55
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


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