Public broadcasters may not receive their funding from an obligatory television licence fee, individual contributions, government funding or commercial sources. Public broadcasters do not rely on advertising to the same degree as commercial broadcasters, or at all; this allows public broadcasters to transmit programmes that are not commercially viable to the mass market, such as public affairs shows, radio and television documentaries, and educational programmes.
One of the principles of public broadcasting is to provide coverage of interests for which there are missing or small markets. Public broadcasting attempts to supply topics of social benefit that are otherwise not provided by commercial broadcasters. Typically, such underprovision is argued to exist when the benefits to viewers are relatively high in comparison to the benefits to advertisers from contacting viewers. This frequently is the case in undeveloped countries that normally have low benefits to advertising.
Additionally, public broadcasting may facilitate the implementation of a cultural policy (an industrial policy and investment policy for culture). Examples include:
The Canadian government is committed to official bilingualism (English and French). As a result, the public broadcaster, the CBC employs translators and journalists who speak both official languages and it encourages production of cross-cultural material. Quebec separatists argue that this is also a policy of cultural imperialism and assimilation.
In the UK, the BBC supports multiculturalism and diversity, in part by using on-screen commentators and hosts of different ethnic origins. There are also Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic language programmes for the home nations, an Asian Network broadcasting in English and five major languages of South Asia, and the BBC World Service broadcasts in 31 international languages, also funded independently of government.
In New Zealand, the public broadcasting system provides support to Māori broadcasting, with the stated intention of improving their opportunities, maintaining their cultural heritage and promoting their language.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is legally required to ‘encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia’ and ‘broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity’ with specific emphasis on regional and rural Australia’. Furthermore, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) is intended to reflect the spirit and sense of multicultural richness and the unique international cultural values within Australian society.British Broadcasting Corporation—an organization widely trusted, even by citizens of the Axis Powers during World War II—was widely emulated throughout Europe, the British Empire, and later the Commonwealth. The public broadcasters in a number of countries are basically an application of the model used in Britain.
Modern public broadcasting is often a mixed commercial model. For example, the CBC is funded by advertising revenue supplemented by a government subsidy to support its television service.
State presence in television had a strong history, not in the way of European style public service radio or television. The private sector has taken an active role in the development of television in Buenos Aires. In opposition, state broadcasters tend to be federal and technical innovative, such as the Televisión Pública Argentina, the first national TV station, 68 years old.
In Brazil, the two main national public broadcasters are EBC (Empresa Brasil de Comunicação, Brazil Communication Company) and the Fundação Padre Anchieta (Padre Anchieta Foundation). The EBC was created in 2007 to manage the Brazilian federal government’s radio and television stations. EBC owns broadcast networks such as TV Brasil (launched in 2007, being the merger of Rio de Janeiro’s TV Educativa (1975–2007) and Brasília’s TV Nacional (1960–2007), and the stations Nacional and Radio MEC in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro. The Fundação Padre Anchieta was created by the government of the state of São Paulo in 1967 and includes a television station (TV Cultura, launched in 1969 in São Paulo), and two radio stations (Rádio Cultura FM and Rádio Cultura Brasil). The Padre Anchieta Foundation is a privately held company which maintains autonomy.
Many Brazilian states also has a also has regional public radio and television stations, all of them members of the Brazilian Association of Public, Educational and Cultural Broadcasters (ABEPEC). This is the case of the state of Minas Gerais, which has the Empresa Mineira de Comunicação (EMC, Minas Gerais Communication Company), a public company created in 2016, formed by Rede Minas, the public television channel and the two stations of Rádio Inconfidência (which also broadcasts in shortwave). The state of Espírito Santo also has its own public radio (Rádio Espírito Santo) and television (Televisão Educativa do Espírito Santo – TVE-ES, Educational Television of Espírito Santo). In Rio Grande do Sul, the public television station is the TVE-RS (Televisão Educativa do Rio Grande do Sul, Educational Television of Rio Grande do Sul) and a radio station (FM Cultura). The regional public television channels in Brazil are affiliates and broadcast part of TV Brasil or TV Cultura programming.
Currently, EBC undergoes several critics by some conservative politicians for having a supposed left-leaning bias. The current president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, intends to extinguish the EBC.
See also: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
In Canada, the main public broadcaster is the national Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC; French: Société Radio-Canada), a crown corporation – which originated as a radio network in November 1936. It is the successor to the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC), which was established by the administration of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett in 1932, modeled on recommendations made in 1929 by the Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting and stemming from lobbying efforts by the Canadian Radio League. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation took over operation of the CRBC’s nine radio stations (which were largely concentrated in major cities across Canada, including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa). The CBC eventually expanded to television in September 1952 with the sign-on of CBFT in Montreal, the first television station in Canada to initiate full-time broadcasts, which initially served as a primary affiliate of the French language Télévision de Radio-Canada and a secondary affiliate of the English language CBC Television service.
CBC operates two national television networks (CBC Television and Ici Radio-Canada Télé), four radio networks (CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, Ici Radio-Canada Première and Ici Musique) and several cable television channels including two 24-hour news channels (CBC News Network and Ici RDI) in both of Canada’s official languages – English and French – and the French-language science channel Ici Explora. CBC’s national television operations and some radio operations are funded partly by advertisements, in addition to the subsidy provided by the federal government. The cable channels are commercial entities owned and operated by the CBC and do not receive any direct public funds, however, they do benefit from synergies with resources from the other CBC operations. The CBC has frequently dealt with budget cuts and labour disputes, often resulting in a debate about whether the service has the resources necessary to properly fulfill its mandate.
As of 2017, all of CBC Television’s terrestrial stations are owned and operated by the CBC directly. The number of privately owned CBC Television affiliates has gradually declined in recent years, as the network has moved its programming to stations opened by the corporation or has purchased certain affiliates from private broadcasting groups; budgetary issues led the CBC to choose not to launch new rebroadcast transmitters in markets where the network disaffiliated from a private station after 2006; the network dropped its remaining private affiliates in 2016, when CJDC-TV/Dawson Creek and CFTK-TV/Terrace, British Columbia defected from CBC Television that February and Lloydminster-based CKSA-DT disaffiliated in August of that year (to become affiliates of CTV Two and Global, respectively). The CBC’s decision to disaffiliate from these and other privately owned stations, as well as the corporation decommissioning its network of rebroadcasters following Canada’s transition to digital television in August 2011 have significantly reduced the terrestrial coverage of both CBC Television and Ici Radio-Canada Télé; the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) does require cable, satellite and IPTV providers to carry CBC and Radio-Canada stations as part of their basic tier, regardless of terrestrial availability in an individual market. Of the three major French-language television networks in Canada, Ici Radio-Canada Télé is the only one that maintains terrestrial owned-and-operated stations and affiliates in all ten Canadian provinces, although it maintains only one station (Moncton, New Brunswick-based CBAFT-DT) that serves the four provinces comprising Atlantic Canada.
In recent years, the CBC has also expanded into new media ventures including the online radio service CBC Radio 3, music streaming service CBC Music, and the launch of online news services, such as CBC Hamilton, in some markets which are not directly served by their own CBC television or radio stations.
In addition, several provinces operate public broadcasters; these are not CBC subentities, but distinct networks in their own right. Most of the provincial services maintain an educational programming format, differing from the primarily entertainment-based CBC/Radio-Canada operations, but more closely formatted to (and carrying many of the same programs as) the U.S.-based Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which itself is available terrestrially and – under a CRTC rule that requires Canadian cable, satellite and IPTV providers to carry affiliates of the four major U.S. commercial networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) and a PBS member station – through pay television providers in Canada via member stations located near the U.S.–Canada border. These educational public broadcasters include the English-language TVOntario (TVO) and the French-language TFO in Ontario, Télé-Québec in Quebec, and Knowledge Network in British Columbia. TVO and Télé-Québec operate through conventional transmitters and cable, while TFO and Knowledge Network are cable-only channels. Beyond these and other provincial services, Canada does not have a national public educational network.