Structural changes brought about by liberalisation policies ended public service broadcasters (PSB) monopolies. Consequently, the context in which European PSB operate is considerably different than when they were first introduced. They now face increased competition, while government funding is being threatened, spaces for democratic involvement are decreasing, and audiences increasingly expect on-demand and participatory media. PSB’s legitimisation now has to be based on its role in society and its added value concerning the public service mandate. Scholars have recognised the importance of innovation in advancing the current media landscape and especially in maintaining the relevance of PSB. Drawing upon these premises, this research investigates what innovation activities PSB undertake and how these contribute to their societal objectives. The NPO and BBC have been selected as case studies to answer the research question: What strategies do PSB have in place to face today’s innovation challenges? To answer this question, this study analysed 100 innovation projects published by NPO and BBC. The analysis is based on data immersion and coding in order to develop a framework to assess innovation within PSB by bringing innovation and societal impact together, which can inform innovation strategy for PSB in the future. Drawing upon literature on innovation management, media innovation and public value, this research argues that currently widely adopted frameworks are not able to fully capture innovation strategies at PSB. The newly developed framework goes beyond existing frameworks and includes objectives such as audience interaction, the reaching of new audiences, empowering audiences, improving production through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, stimulating innovation, as well as sustainability. The main findings show that incremental innovation within production and distribution prevail and that traditional public values such as universality of availability are still leading in PSB’s innovation strategies.

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Dr Marlen Komorowski
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Stephanie Shoulder. (2022, July 25). Innovation in public service media A multiple-case study analysis of innovation projects at the NPO and BBC. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from