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Comunicar Journal 36: Television and its New Expressions (Vol. 18 - 2011)

The transformation of public TV companies into digital services at the BBC and RTVE


Mercedes Medina-Laverón

Teresa Ojer-Goñi


Some authors question the existence of public television companies in the new environment of digitalization, Internet proliferation, growing competition and audience segmentation. However, others believe they should act as a driving force in the process of convergence and even that the new media present an opportunity to redefine the public broadcasting service (PBS) remit. The current challenge for the public media companies is to deliver their content through the maximum number of devices, not only via television sets but also broadband and mobile devices. Over the years, the BBC has adapted to new market situations and has implemented solutions that have been adopted by other public and private broadcasters around the world. The objective of this article is to show how the BBC has taken up the leadership of transforming public TV companies into online services in order to maintain market share; and how it has influenced Spain’s public TV broadcaster, RTVE. The methodology is based on internal and external documents of both corporations, and the findings are complemented by interviews with online service managers at RTVE. We conclude that these public companies have adapted their activities to the new technologies and have developed interactive services to reinforce their public service mission.


Online services, digital services, innovation, transformation, public television