Governance of Public Broadcasters and Television Consumption


Recent literature emphasizes the importance of independent media for beneficial political, economic and social outcomes. Although the media are generally considered free, there exists a long-standing tradition of public service broadcasting in many European countries. This paper investigates how media consumers react to this kind state ownership of TV stations and to the different regulatory regimes public broadcasters are subject to. The empirical results show that a higher share of public TV stations is associated with lower TV news consumption on average. The negative effects of state ownership are larger when the public stations are regulated directly by a Ministry as opposed to a more independent regulatory body. When public broadcasters are subject to a self-regulatory regime, there is even a positive association between the share of public stations and TV consumption. The results are consistent with the view that political influence leads to lower news quality in general, but some countries manage to provide a regulatory environment that keeps public TV stations independent.

Revised Working Paper (former CREMA Working Paper No. 2010-18)