Scratch the surface of any particular debate about public broadcasting and a rash quickly swells up. Private sector broadcasters itch to grab listeners and viewers who would so obviously stream to their channels. Publishers see a fountain of youth, all ready to subscribe. Politicians, splinter and otherwise, are tormented by that "independent" monster waving bad news, robbing them of entitled glory or, usually, shade. It is tempting, then, for public broadcasters to break out in hives.
From the earliest days of broadcasting listeners - and later viewers - in many countries contributed to transmitter and program costs through a tax levy on receiving equipment. Over time public broadcasting emerged in Europe and elsewhere from state operated systems. The household license fee formed, in part, the financial basis for independence from political and commercial influence. Several public broadcasters were able to leverage brand strength from this independence. Neither politicians nor competitors have been pleased.
The most successful business models rise from inspiration. History teaches well and boundaries are essential for creative solutions. Stealing ideas works, too. Itís all fair game and public broadcasters need not be shrinking violets.