Soft governance promoting policy coordination the case of psb
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Soft Governance Promoting Policy Coordination: the Case of PSB. Dr. Maria Michalis University of Westminster University of Exeter, July 1st workshop : ‘ Public Service Broadcasting in Europe in the Digital Age. ’. Outline. Questions:

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Soft Governance Promoting Policy Coordination: the Case of PSB

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Soft Governance Promoting Policy Coordination: the Case of PSB

Dr. Maria Michalis

University of Westminster

University of Exeter, July 1st

workshop: ‘Public Service Broadcasting in Europe in the Digital Age.’


  • Questions:

    • 1) are soft policy measures attempts to close the gap between negative & positive integration?

    • 2) can such voluntary measures promote policy transfer and harmonisation?

  • Case study:

    • 2009 Broadcasting Communication of the European Commission : application of State aid rules to PSB

EU approach towards PSB

  • Challenge:

    • How to reconcile the long established national PSB institutions with the predominantly economic provisions the EU Treaty

  • Solution: division of responsibilities

    • E.g. 2007 [1989] Audiovisual Media Services Directive

    • EU: economic policy

    • Member States: public service objectives

Prominence of competition decisions

  • EU regulatory framework = minimal

    • Subsidiarity as bulwark against pro-liberal intrusions

  • But minimal EU regulatory framework has left PSB exposed to competition law arguments

    • Series of State aid investigations

    • The Commission, though often critical, has generally supported PSBs in its decisions

    • Market failure has progressively become a key concept

But gradual In tandem...

  • Gradual recognition of public interest and democratic considerations, e.g.

    • 1997: public services = core shared value

    • 1997 Amsterdam Protocol: PSB = national responsibility

    • 2000 Charter of Fundamental Rights

    • 2001 Broadcasting Communication : clarifying application of State aid rules to PSB

2009 Broadcasting Communication

  • Strengthens the 3 main criteria set by its predecessor that make State aid admissible:

    1) definition of the remit 2) entrustment and monitoring 3) proportionality

  • Ex ante test of major additions to or changes in remit

    • Public value vs market impact

  • Strengthens subsidiarity. Member states to determine

    • What ‘significant new services’ are

    • Details of ex ante test

    • Regulatory institutional structures

Soft policy used to close regulatory gap

  • EU policy: more about liberalisation (negative integration) than harmonisation (positive integration)

  • Still, markets are predominantly national

  • Liberalisation: vertical and coercive Europeanisation mechanisms

  • Content and cultural issues: national level

  • Harmonisation has become less-directive driven; emphasis on soft instruments, socialisation (e.g. Audience share – media ownership), reputational enforcement (e.g. Quotas)

Public Value Test: Policy Transfer

  • Argument:

    • Soft policy measure (2009 Broadcasting Communication) has contributed to policy transfer (PVT is being introduced throughout the EU) and has promoted harmonisation in the governing structures of PSB

    • Indirectly coercive policy transfer

    • Impact upon

      • 1) public policy

      • 2) cognitive and normative structures

    • But national variations

      • In terms of processes, institutional structures, actors ...

      • Policy adapted to domestic conditions (new institutionalism)

National Variations

  • Germany:

    • ‘three-step’ approach (PVT test) explicitly incorporates qualitative criteria (e.g. Pluralism)

    • Carried out by internal broadcasting councils of PSBs

    • Market impact: external consultants

    • Concerns existing as well as future activities

    • No opportunity for direct audience involvement

  • UK:

    • Carried out by BBC Trust

      • BBC Trust: public value. Ofcom: market impact

    • Concerns significant changes in remit

    • Extensive public consultation

Conclusion and Observations

  • Paper suggests that soft policy measures may trigger domestic policy adjustment and promote harmonisation

  • this proposition rests on a single case study

  • The potential of a soft measure to trigger policy change was conditioned upon its strong association with the EU’s competition powers

    • indirectly coercive transfer

    • ‘shadow of hierarchy’

Thank you!

Dr. Maria MichalisUniversity of

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