From broadcasters to open ecosystems On the reform and future of public service broadcasting

By Leonhard Dobusch | In the age of digital platforms, democratic public discourse is increasingly being structured by private, primarily profit-driven companies. While the dual media system in Germany persists, this context presents public service media with the challenge of establishing a relevant public discourse in line with alternative logics that primarily center around a democratic mandate. If they are to tackle this challenge successfully, public service media must themselves become platform operators – opening up their communication infrastructure to their own audience in particular, as well as to other non-profit and, in certain areas, even commercial media. In contrast to the narratives that dominate the media, public service broadcasters in Germany are already very advanced in the development of services like this. A public service ecosystem strategy based on open software, protocols and platforms would thus not mean radical upheaval, but primarily the logical further development of digitalization pathways that have already begun.