Governing the country through the public broadcasting corporation

Authors: Nordberg, D. and Muridzo, S.

Start date: 16 February 2018

Public service broadcasters are a peculiar form of organisation, corporations in name but extensions of the state that call them into being. They share that distinction with other firms, long since privatised: the PTTs of yore – post, telegraph, and telephone providers – or what were once seen as natural monopolies: water and electricity. But they differ in a crucial and paradoxical regard: Among their functions is to hold the state to account. It is, therefore, a corporate form with the agency problem as part of its reason for being. It is a governance mechanism over its own governors. In liberal democracies, states have come to accept that paradox and tolerate its ambiguities as a condition of state legitimacy. In this paper we ask the question: How does a state broadcast retain its legitimacy when the legitimacy of the state in under question?

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