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
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
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
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
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,
- 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.
- 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
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
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,
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.