Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

Public Broadcasting Crisis as Management Crisis: A Case Study of Radio Television of Vojvodina

Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

Public Broadcasting Crisis as Management Crisis: A Case Study of Radio Television of Vojvodina

Article excerpt

1. On the crisis of public media organizations

European PSB companies are large and structurally complex organizations with decades of experience, and approximately all of them went through evolutionary changes - from the stage of monopoly in either market or managed economy, to multichannel, multimedia, convergence and digital switchover (Suter 2005). Public broadcasters are relatively well-resourced and positioned in their target markets, with large audiences and rather firm credibility. However, in the contemporary "new media situation" (Moe/Syvertsen 2007) they have reached "an inflection point" and disrupted traditional balance (BBC 2010) so they should be modernized in many ways not only technologically. Their exceptional institutional history and still défendable political legitimacy can only partly help them justify their economic position, which is regarded as a privilege by the opponents, or assure the public of the importance of social and cultural functions that PSBs perform. Accountability and economic efficiency of PSB companies can only be achieved through socially responsible business strategies stemming from the model of sustainability in dynamically changing societies (Hermida/Ash 2010). But defining this PSB strategy in quickly changing socio-economic environment is unprecedentedly difficult as well; according to Jakubowicz (2006) there is no such strategy, and even if there is, in any of European public media companies, its success is hard to guarantee.

The position of public broadcasting companies in the so called transitional countries is even more complex. Most of them operate on the severely competitive media setting which itself reflects the broader environment, strongly shaped by political clientelism, inadequate regulation, weak institutions and disoriented economy. Hence the crisis of public broadcasting in each particular country experiencing the slow process of transition to market capitalist economy has some specific features, apart from common ones. Over the last two decades public broadcasting organizations in these countries have experienced intense alterations like no PSB in the western European countries have. There was no universally applicable strategy to "copy" or "inherit" for a successful transition of state-owned broadcasting organizations to public service media organizations, just as the country on the whole was unlikely to simply "adopt" the rules and laws (for media policy or cultural policy) of the West European countries.

Consequently, a new type of management in public service organizations was required by inevitable structural changes, redefining business models and strategies (Jakubowicz 2008), organizational adjustments in order to deliver the required level of service. The overall performance of these organizations has been closely related to and hence marked by the type of management as their leading team. Thus, it is up to leaders to articulate new goals and tactics in the rapidly changing environment.

2. Criticism and defence of public service broadcasting

Diversity of PSB models stems from different historical, cultural and political traditions of European nations (Levy 1999, according to Brevini 2010:349). However, in all countries the major centres of political power inclines towards direct control over the largest television and radio stations. Many public service broadcasters in transitional countries in Europe have had to deal with an existential crisis, even in those countries which rapidly advanced in terms of liberal and civilian reconstruction in the 1990s (a striking example is the Hungarian national broadcaster21). Laws, requests and referrals, both national and European, aimed at reforming public media were sometimes unsuccessful so they are still marked by high level of clientelism and political nepotism (Splichal 2001; BajomiLázár 2002; Hallin/Stylianos 2002; Hallin/Mancini 2004; Jakubowicz/Sükösd 2008).

As pointed out in literature (Owen 1996; Steemers 1999; Picard 2003; Nissen 2006a; Kivikuru 2006; Lowe 2007; Lowe/Bardoel 2007; Car 2007; Jakobowicz 2008) even European public broadcasters with remarkable history have been facing the crisis of identity as well as financial and other problems for years. …

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