PODCAST: Negotiating public value and commercial sustainability – Broadcasting and the arts

This presentation will examine the negotiation of public value and commercial sustainability by key decision-makers within UK broadcasting. It analyses the relationship between broadcasters and the arts, a genre that has been a feature of schedules since the earliest days of television, and is often associated with cultural democratization and the construction of taste and visual literacy.

Using interviews with senior executives at the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky Arts, this paper will consider how this constituency is responding strategically to multi-platform developments and how leveraging partnerships with certain cultural institutions is now a vital strategic manoeuver both for commercial and public service broadcasters. Findings suggest that changes in the provision of arts television in the UK highlight wider commercial, cultural, and technological forces that have impacted the sustainability of genres traditionally associated with public value, and that many are at risk of disappearing from our screens.

The presentation will conclude by reflecting on research fieldwork conducted in Australia over the preceding weeks in this area in order to develop a comparative framework of the systems in which arts content is commissioned, produced and transmitted.

Caitriona Noonan is a lecturer and researcher at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture (JOMEC), Cardiff University, UK. Her research interests are on television labour, public service broadcasting and cultural production. She has published in journals such as the Journal of Popular Television, International Journal of Cultural Policy, Media History and the European Journal of Cultural Studies. She is currently preparing a monograph on the BBC and its relationship to arts programming.