(Source: everythingisaremix.info)

I delivered this statement as a panelist at the RIPE@2022 conference “Between the Fourth Estate and the Fifth Power: Conservation and Innovation in Public Service Media Journalism”, September 19, 2022.

Facing competition from large platform giants, from Facebook to TikTok, how should, how could nationally embedded legacy Public Service Media providers ever even hope to compete with those global competitors?

One way to do so would require embracing digital remix culture with its three foundational pillars: copy, transform, combine.


There is indeed a lot to be learned from the large social media platforms’ successes. Aside of being ad-funded, all the dominant platforms feature user-generated content, allow for comments and discussion directly connected to content hosted. Public Service Media need to match the openness vis-á-vis their audience that digital technology enables and the commercial platforms spearheaded. Not just because it is at the heart of the commercial platform’s success, but also because it is the right, democratic thing to do.


Of course, Public Service Media could not and should not just copy and paste from digital platforms. Since all those platforms share being advertisement funded, which leads to algorithms solely optimized for those very ad revenues. Public Service Media platforms, instead, ought to primarily follow a democratic mandate, which requires new recommendation algorithms that privilege diversity and civility of reporting over sensationalist clickbait. Since Public Service Media are publicly funded, they also need to come up with a different approach to content, embracing open content licenses, which make at least some content compatible with the hidden and only non-profit new media giant out there, Wikipedia.


Embracing open licenses is also what brings us to the third pillar of digital remix culture. One of the most common criticism of Public Service Media platform endeavors is that these locally and regionally scattered players could never compete with the scale of global counterparts. And to some degree, this is true: if Public Service Media merely copy the proprietary and centralized strategy of commercial counterparts, they can and will never succeed. The good news is: they don’t need to.

By re-building digital infrastructures based on open source software, open standards and open protocols such as already happening in the Fediverse, each and every Public Service Media broadcaster in Europe can unilaterally contribute to the emergence of an open and decentralized Public Service Media Ecosystem that includes universities, libraries, archives, museums, citizen media, Wikipedia and the blogosphere.

Is it realistic to challenge proprietary platform giants? I am convinced that it is. For example, in Germany, Public Service Media streaming portals have already overtaken Amazon Prime and caught up to Netflix in terms of viewers. Millions of users regularly log into their streaming portals. The audience is already there but not invited to contribute, to create to remix and to re-use. Public Service Media providers can develop viable and relevant public service infrastructures based on open source software, open standards and open protocols. The question remains, whether they will.