Public Service Narrowcasting

What we need and
can now have is some genuine plurality.

The above quote comes from Bazalgette’s Public Service Narrowcasting article (2009, p.40). I was so excited reading this article because I really believe that niche markets with special and smaller audiences is the way forward. When was the last time any of us watched a PBS program? Why is there so much concern for the “broad” in broadcasting? Bazalgette (2009, pg.38) believes the internet is killing public service broadcasting especially with the wonderful phenomenon that:

…Organisations in the
world of the arts, media, education, museums and
so on, who can now create and distribute their own

These organizations should be the leaders paving the way for the move to public service “narrowcasting”. Narrowcasting has to do with tailoring and disseminating information to a narrow (I prefer the word niche) audience. The idea of narrowcasting should be one we embrace with open arms especially when it comes to public service programs as many of them are specialized and specific so really do end up attracting this narrow audience more often than the mass audience television companies would prefer. Narrowcasting can also be an easy and first step someone like CBC can use to set themselves up in the world of digital media and the internet. The possibilities for narowcasting are endless, this can actually lead to even stronger audience engagement in the programs and their content. The spiral video ME showed us in class brought back the idea of creativity for me and how everyone has their own creative capabilities and so can be given the opportunity to express and play around with that capability.

I am in no way saying that PBS or PSB (as Bazalgette (2009) refers to it in his article) should be completely thrown out the window, but just like Bazalgette I am advocating for us to identify and take advantage of the new opportunities afforded us by the internet. Another idea that can be used to employ a form of narrowcasting is the Second Screen. Give the audience the chance to not just sit and be spoon fed information but to actively take part in the discussion while the program is on and maybe even direct a few programs as they are happening and have questions answered in real time. An opportunity for citizen engagement which will enrich the experience of PBS and in turn maybe even attract a bigger audience.

Bazalgette (2009, pg. 40) talks about the fact that most PBS programing is decided by a select few, with narrowcasting that decision is spread out especially if the interactive possibilities are fully employed and content is fluid and includes creations by the audience. Narrowcasting might actually bring the “broad” into reality for PBS.

What do you think about narrowcasting and programing for niche markets? Do you agree with my thoughts about the possibilities for citizen engagement?

Bazalgette, P. (2009, February). Public service narrowcasting. Prospect Issue 155: 38-40.
Retrieved from Prospect Magazine


About oluwatofealadeadeyefa

A Masters student in Public Relations at MSVU. Bachelors in International Development and Political Science from Mcgill University. Interested in Internal Communication and Change Management.
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