Different Strokes: Public Broadcasting in America and Australia

By Glyn Davis

A paper by Glyn Davis, fall 1988 fellow, compares the United States’ decentralized public broadcasting system to its Australian counterpart, which was built on the British government monopoly model. Starting with a historical analysis of how the two different systems developed from their early radio days, Davis documents the various political assaults and supports for each system and evaluates which is better organized for serving the public interest. He addresses such questions as: Should public broadcasting seek to be an alternative voice to programming provided by the commercial networks – or should it be expected to provide a sense of nation, a comprehensive range of material including the kind already provided by commercial radio and television? Which system – the loose federation or the centralized monopoly – involves the public more effectively, and better resists partisan political pressures? What difference does the organization of the system make in its relationship to the audience?

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