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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Andrew Graham’s defence of the public service ethos argues for the social good of not-for-profit media. David Elstein doesn’t disagree with the premise, but with the idea that the BBC is beyond criticism or reform. The debate develops with contributions from leading media theorist Jean Seaton, Steve Barnett and Channel 4’s David Lloyd. Taking in the global lessons from New Zealand, India, Latin America and Italy, the main protagonists move toward a shared vision of the landscape, if little agreement on the priorities.

Ebola and global health politics: an open letter

The human toll from the Ebola outbreak is all too evident. A more proactive global health policy is needed to avoid its repetition.

Justice in the UK: back to the 1930s?

Proposals to cut legal aid and judicial review in Britain will make it harder for people fighting for their rights to challenge the government's cuts agenda, and will remove one of the few lifelines to justice for asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented workers, says Kate Blagojevic. 

Double standards: dispersal and pregnant asylum seekers in Britain

The NHS prides itself on its high standard of maternity care, yet by transporting pregnant asylum seekers between cities, removing them from partners, support networks and trusted midwives, the UKBA is sending the message that these principles don’t apply to asylum seeking women

Philanthropy towards asylum seekers: friend or foe?

Due attention must be given to the decision-making processes and rationales that underpin and politicise philanthropy towards asylum seekers in the UK. There is a danger that philanthropy may become complicit in sealing the borders of the state of exception in which asylum seekers are already positioned, says Emily Bowerman.

When nowhere is safe

No woman, no matter what her immigration status, should have to choose between violence in her country and violence in Britain, says Anna Musgrave

Turn on, tune in - pay up?

Democracy needs probing and accessible broadcasting news sources which commercial stations are unlikely to provide. David Elstein’s strong case for marketplace virtue remains at the level of potential. But, concludes the media co-editor, the shadow of audience tune-out threatens us all.

Purpose first, value second - but only if you mean it

Social purpose is indeed essential to broadcasting – something ignored in the recent “market farces” of the UK sector. But funding sources and methods are still crucial in judging performance and value when the public’s money is being spent. The emotional preference for the public over the commercial sector inhibits the rational assessment of either.

Money can't buy you broadcasting value

The old David Elstein understood what the new one has seemingly forgotten, that an obsession with cost leads to the worst of both worlds – inefficiency as well as an erosion of the creative spirit. It is time to rethink.

Neither history nor mystery but reality

The core arguments against the way public sector broadcasting operates in the UK are restated by the media section co-editor: excessive cost, inefficiency, and (in the context of a fragmenting audience) anachronism. By the valid criterion of good value for public money, BBC and Channel 4 simply do not cut the mustard.

The Indian media: a response to Page and Crawley

Those who have endured decades of perverse Bollywood fantasies bombarding their own besieged cultures will point to darker shades cast by India’s pretensions to world power status.

Hybrid media helps democracy breathe

Latin America has been stony ground for public broadcasting. In the era of privatisation, political timidity in the face of business has facilitated “state capture” by media moguls. But can local, democratic vitality and imaginative use of new technology add diversity to the media landscape?

Brass monkeys

By the logic of New Labour “Absolutely Fabulous” promotes drunkenness and child abuse, and “Fawlty Towers” is offensive to Britain’s hoteliers.

Italy's television, Italy's democracy

Silvio Berlusconi’s victory in the Italian general election returned the TV mogul to political power. But the Italian people were not brainwashed by his television stations. Rather, the skills and resources of his corporate machine allowed him to construct the right wing alliance which now dominates Italian politics.

New Zealand television picks up the pieces

After the single-channel conformism of the 1970s and the free market typhoon of the 1980s, New Zealand is trying to establish a public service culture in a commercial broadcasting environment. The head of news at Channel 4 went there to learn, advise – and report.

Public service television: Bohemian decline and fall

The inner politics of Czech television itself became the news last December, as staff protested another managerial change in the public broadcasting system. But was this a principled challenge to political interference, or a case of programme-makers run wild?

The real world of public service

While it is attractive to toy with the idea of broadcasting left to a free market it is clear that this cannot maintain diversity of output.

Public broadcasting: imperfect but essential

The British experience shows that the public service model can offer a foundation of excellence across the broadcasting spectrum – as well as keeping us all honest. The story of Independent Television News reveals how commercial invention and imaginative regulation once worked in concert. Can they do so again?

Bringing oxygen into the magic circle

The debate about public service broadcasting has been conducted in a pre-web frame. The whole argument is being altered by the experiences of new forms of public information as we go digital, says the British Film Institute’s head of education.

Swedish public service - for seniors only?

Public service TV goes hand in hand with established, nationally based political systems. It is the medium for the nation not for the network society.

Enlightened regulation: the future Indian way?

India’s broadcasting media, driven by advertising and international business, has exploded into diverse life in the last decade. The public broadcasters, once so powerful, are drifting. Is there a role for regulation?

Taxation without representation?

The licence fee for out-of-touch public service: taxation without representation?

Not good enough

We need public service broadcasting to be protected more than ever. The commercialisation of the BBC and C4 are reasons to fight for them.

He who pays the piper...

McKinsey's report on public service funding is an useful read and very supportive of the BBC - I wonder who paid for it?

The public service commonwealth

Public-interest media regulation has never been needed as much as it is today. But let’s not just think globally here: let’s act locally – make the BBC a commonwealth.

Portugal: a media story

A change in Portugal's media landscape has not been for the better, says Eunice Goes.

Beyond sleepwalking

The new media landscape demands fresh, undogmatic thinking. Three wise men launch the media debate on an unsuspecting world.

The BBC no longer washes whiter

Andrew Graham’s argument is seductive but wrong. The British experience shows public service broadcasting is wasteful, patronising and too close to power. A diverse, efficient future is coming – thanks to the market.

Quality not profit

A leading British economist takes on the free market argument, and insists public service broadcasters are as necessary for a healthy society as fresh air.
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