Universalism in Public Service Media
Since the start of telephony and later in broadcasting, the pursuit of universal service has legitimated the ownership and operation of media as a public trust. Until the 1980s, this principle was the bedrock for the broadcasting mission and is still a mandated requirement for public media companies today. But in practice, the universalism ideal was largely abandoned in the 1980s as media deregulation promised more competition, innovation, and vigorous economic growth. Some of this came true, but at a worrisome cost. Growing distrust in media today is partly rooted in the illusion that more media in more platforms would inevitably ensure better media in all platforms. There is now more of everything on offer except social responsibility.
This collection interrogates the historic universalism mission in public service broadcasting and explores its contemporary relevance for public service media. Taking a critical perspective on media policy and performance, the volume contributes to a much-needed contemporary reassessment that clarifies the importance of universalism for equity in access and provision, trustworthy content, and inclusive participation in the context of advancing digitalisation and globalisation. The collection situates universalism as an aspirational quest and inspirational pursuit. Researchers and policy makers will find the collection valuable for conceptualisation and strategic managers will find it helpful as a principled basis in the pursuit of improved reach and value.