In 2010, the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI), a representative body for the sector, complained to the Irish government that RTÉ ‘has gone far beyond the proper limits of its public service remit’. They argued that by providing publicly funded news content on its website and on mobile apps free of charge, RTÉ distorts the market and creates unfair competition for the newspaper sector. Based on a case study of the NNI submission, this presentation will consider the strategic management and policy implications of the transition from radio and television to a multi-platform public service model.
Defining the limits of RTE’s digital public service remit is no easy task in a converged media landscape. For public broadcasters the move online is a natural progression; at the very least it allows them to follow the audience and deliver content in ways that are more relevant to contemporary lifestyles. However, allowing public broadcasters to expand into digital media activities poses a major threat to online newspapers, since they often occupy a dominant position in the market and can deliver publicly funded content free of charge. Policy makers must now decide where the boundaries between public service broadcasting and the commercial press sector should lie, and how far public broadcasters’ digital media activities ought to go. Ultimately, this will rest on a choice between forcing public service providers to languish on the old media platforms and allowing them to embrace digital media to deliver an enhanced, more innovative service and enrich the online landscape.