10th EPRA Meeting

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10th EPRA Meeting

    th10 EPRA Meeting

    Ermoupolis, 21-22 October 1999

    Background Paper prepared by the National Broadcasting Council of Poland

    Topic 2: Regulators and Public Television

    In preparation for a discussion on the subject of “Regulators and public television”

    (working group 2) we sent a questionnaire to the EPRA members which contained the

    following questions:

1. How is the mission of public-service broadcasters in your country defined?

    2. What are the specific programming obligations for the public-service

    broadcasters in order for them to fulfil their mission?

    3. How is the compliance of public-service broadcasters with these programme

    obligations monitored?

    4. How do public-service broadcasters account to the public?

    5. What are the sources of finance for public-service television in your country?

    6. Do you have a system of supervising commercial income with a view to the

    implementation of the public-service remit ?

    This background paper compiles the answers of the regulatory authorities which

    replied to the questionnaire. The conclusions are as follows:

1. The definition of public-service broadcasters’ mission was quoted or described

    precisely by U.K., Malta, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic,

    Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands. In the materials provided by Austria, Turkey,

    Sweden, Portugal and Ireland it was not quoted or described very generally. Germany

    and Norway did not formulate any definition. The dominant characteristic of the

    definitions overviewed is a common task of providing a television service for the

    dissemination of information, education, culture and entertainment. As can be seen

    from the replies sent by U.K., Belgium and Germany, the importance of universal

    access to the services was clearly stressed. The respective definitions vary in a number

    of countries the following differences should be noted: reflecting in the programmes

    social and cultural, religious or spiritual movement within society (Netherlands),

    broadcasting of programmes directed at the ethnic or linguistic minorities (Hungary,

    Slovak Republic) intended for youth (U.K.- BBC, Belgium), promoting democracy or

    humanistic values (Slovak Republic, Slovenia), objectivity and balance (Greece,

    Slovenia, Hungary, Germany) promoting national values (Slovak Republic). In some

    countries additional elements are mentioned: promoting works of francophone

    producers (French Speaking Community Belgium), respecting linguistic and

    regional division into cantons (Switzerland).

    It is also worth mentioning that in many cases programming requirements have

    already been included in the definition of the public-service remit, therefore there

    are common answers to the first and second question (the same elements can be


2. In Turkey, Slovenia and the Netherlands, programming obligations are formulated

    in specific quotas:

    Turkey: educational and cultural programmes must not be less than 5% of the

    weekly transmission time; Turkish folk music and Turkish classical music

    programmes must not be less than 10% of weekly transmission time

    Slovenia: at least 50% of programming should be dedicated to information,

    education, culture and entertainment (one fifth of this should be produced by

    independent producers)

    The Netherlands: national broadcasters each programme channel must

    contain 20% cultural programmes per year, half of these must be classified as arts

    programmes, 30% of the programming must consist of informative or educational

    programmes, 50% of the programming must be made by independent European

    producers, 40% of the programming must consist of original programmes in Dutch

    or Frisian

    NOS (educational TV) - at least 15% of the programming should be directed to

    ethnic or cultural minorities

    local broadcasters at least 50% of programming should consist of programmes

    of an informative, cultural and educational nature which bear relevance to the

    municipality for which the programme is intended

    regional broadcasters - at least 50% of programming should consist of

    programmes of an informative, cultural and educational nature which are relevant

    to the province for which the channel is intended

    Further analysis of the programming obligations of public-service broadcasters’ in

    the remaining countries produces the following results:

    genre of programmes

    - entertainment: Austria, U.K., Belgium, Germany, Slovenia, Malta, Slovak


    - culture: the majority of countries

    - education: Austria, U.K. Greece, Belgium, Slovenia, Malta, Slovak Republic

    - information on important events or issues: Austria, Norway, U.K., Greece,

    Germany, Malta

    - programmes intended for linguistic or ethnic minorities: Sweden, Norway,

    Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Hungary

    - programmes intended for youth and children: Norway, Austria, Belgium, U.K.


    - programmes intended for disadvantaged groups (also partially deaf and

    visually impaired): Sweden, Hungary

    - programmes intended for religious entities: Portugal

    - sport: Austria, U.K.

    programme feature

    - balance, objectivity: Sweden, Austria, Germany, Malta, Slovak Republic,


    - pluralism of opinions: Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Malta

    - promotion of national/regional language: Norway, Belgium, Germany

    - variety of content: Sweden, Norway, Austria, Slovak Republic, Hungary

    - promotion of democratic values: Slovak Republic, Malta

    - good/high quality: Sweden, Italy, U.K., Austria

    In Ireland a catalogue of obligations was not been elaborated upon. A few

    countries added some extra requirements to the catalogue: co-operation with

    Portuguese-speaking countries (Portugal), protection of privacy (Italy), promotion

    of Swiss audiovisual production (Switzerland).

3. In a significant number of countries the authorities monitor the compliance of the

    broadcasters’ public-service obligations. However, in some countries monitoring

    falls under the competence of special bodies or the responsibility is divided into

    various institutions.

4. The public service broadcasters are accountable to the public in several ways. In

    the vast majority of countries public service broadcasters are obliged to produce an

    annual report on their activities, which is presented either to the Parliament,

    Broadcasting Commission or Ministry of Culture (Slovenia, Hungary, Ireland,

    Sweden, Norway, U.K., Italy, Germany). In Ireland, in addition, the public service

    broadcaster organises a series of public meetings on a countrywide basis which

    members of the public are entitled to attend.

    In Hungary civil organisations etc. represent themselves in the Board of Trustees of

    public television, as they are elected by a lottery system. Italy and Austria established

    Viewers and Listeners Council in order to safeguard the interest of listeners and

    viewers. In Austria the Council is entitled to question the management of the TV

    station and demand all relevant information on matters relating to their responsibilities.

    The Council is also entitled to demand that public service channels carry out a public

    opinion poll once a year, covering issues decided upon by the council, and to be

    carried out among subscribers in addition to the opinion polls conducted by television


    In Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Slovenia, Malta, U.K. - members of the general public

    also have the right to lodge complaints with the regulatory authorities regarding

    television programmes.

5. The public television service is funded by a combination of licence fee and

    commercial revenue, with the exception of Britain where public television is financed

    by licence fee only. Other sources of income consist of state funds (Belgium, Hungary,

    Portugal, Slovak Republic, Malta) and sponsoring (Belgium, Germany, Greece,

    Sweden, Switzerland).

    6. Most of the answers to this question are very general. There is no division between commercial income and licence fee. The Germans do not see the need to supervise the use of revenue obtained from advertising.

    On the whole we can say that those answers could apply to a question: Who, and in what way, supervises the income of public service broadcasters ?

    In conclusion we can say that this question was misinterpreted. In a view of that question no 6 is still the subject for discussion.

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