The Development of the Public Sphere in Estonian Broadcasting (ETV-ER/ERR) and a Comparison with Britisch Experience (the BB)
PSB (Public Service Broadcasting) has been in relative crisis for last 20 years, since the emergence of the dual broadcasting system. As a new step in its development, PSB is now redefining itself as PSM (Public Service Media). This raises the question of the extent to which developing PSM retain the values of PSB, the public service and the public sphere and highlights the characteristics and events influencing the choices. Thus there is a need to establish the initial position and the values, mentalities and principles used to shape PSB. The characteristics have specific features in different countries following the principles of path dependency – historical legacies, conditions, continuities and dynamics of domestic policies (Moe 2010). In the ‘new democracies’ of Eastern and Central Europe, the development has been more rapid than in Western Europe, but it has also been shaped by the specific historical experience of strictly ideologybased regimes (Voltmer 2008). In my article-based PhD project, I ask what the influencing factors were behind the choices made in developing PSB; whether the choices made at the beginning of the transition are having a favourable or adverse effect on current choices, as PSB changes into PSM; which events are characteristic of and determine the future of PSM. Using Estonian Public Service Broadcasting as a case study and comparing the data and value system with Latvian and Lithuanian, Finnish and British experience, I distinguish the events and viewpoints as critical junctures and analyse to which extent these cause a paradigm change and where previous experience is being replicated. In my study I have distinguished six characteristics – legislation and political expectations; the financing of PSB; PSB self-image and autonomy; programme content and quality; audience ratings and expectations; the reliability and influence of PSB – through which the development and significant values of the PSB system can be brought out. The trust and values prevailing in the public sphere of a society are the aim and reason for PSM production. Through comparison of the three Baltic States’ normative PSB documents I show what is present and what is missing in the mental field of PSB shaping and deduce the critical junctures affecting the choices. I show that the apparently similar starting-point and historical experiences of two decades ago have not resulted in similar paths being followed, due to differences in critical junctures. I also plan to deduce, from the analysis of choices and development, the size of the necessary critical juncture for different paths.