Public space

The enemies of public service broadcasting always want to atomise it, to split so-called market failure genres which may deserve public funds from so-called commercial ones which definitely don’t. They say it’s all about the programmes. Yes and no. The clue actually is in the title – public service broadcasting. It’s about services as well as individual programmes. At its best – and, of course, we don’t always succeed in delivering at its best – public service broadcasting is woven of whole cloth.

And, just like the wicked old British Library, it’s founded on the idea of public space – in other words, on the belief that there is room for a place which is neither part of government or the state nor purely governed by commercial transactions, which everyone is free to enter and within which they can encounter culture, education, debate, where they can share and swap experiences.

– BBC director general Mark Thompson giving the James MacTaggart memorial lecture on public broadcasting (and libraries). Full text at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/aug/27/mark-thompson-mactaggart-full-text

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