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Public service broadcasting as a medium of political socialization: Quo Vadis?

Julia Rozanova

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Recent years have witnessed rising concern about the future of democracy, and the decline of public service broadcasting (PSB) has been named among the challenges. In a global move to neo-liberalism, the territory belonging to public service broadcasting is shrinking with less government investment.
Drawing on the Western and Russian research data about the transformation of PSB, this paper will challenge the libertarian critique of PSB as a medium of political socialization from the Right, which asserts that proliferation of information channels eliminated the need for PSB, and that an individual needs to be left on her own to “freely” process the abundant information. It will also revisit the critique of PSB as a medium of political socialization from the Left, which points out that being in control of PSB, the bourgeois state cannot with necessity ensure that it truly serves the public interest, and moreover, PSB may potentially be a hegemonic tool for ideological control by the state. Bringing in the experience of the Russian TV system this paper will add a new dimension to the study of media as an instrument of political socialization and its implications for democracy.
Keywords: Television – democracy – public sphere – political socialization