Bureaucrats in the European Union try to interfere with the rules for state owned public service radio and television in member countries. Their capitalist dream is to reduce those services to a minimum, with a first step to prohibit public service broadcasters from producing types of programs that commercial corporations at all can do. The rationale is to prevent states from distorting competition by more or less invisible subsidies.
The problem is that commercial television stands for quite bad quality and taste in most of Europe, and certainly in Sweden. As audience research here shows: of the 20 most viewed TV-programs in 2010, two (in places 9 and 19) were made by the largest commercial corporation (TV4), the rest 18 by our state controlled public service company, SVT. All the other private broadcasters were not in the vicinity of the list at all.
It’s of course remarkable that the private broadcasters have failed so completely when it comes to their only objective: to produce programs that attract many people. The reason is however rather obvious for a lot of observers with their brains functioning. The companies have made the false assumption that people would like simple, superficial and sometimes stupid programs. They really didn’t understand the ordinary TV viewer in their own country. Perhaps they had been to the US to learn the basics, and didn’t notice that there is a large differences in our cultures, who knows?
Dagens Nyheter revealed the viewer statistics today, together with an interview with the head of TV4. He obviously approved of the restrictions for public service proposed by EU, and bragged somewhat about his company’s good economy and profitability, but had no comments on the bad statistics.
The reader’s comments to the interview in the web version of DN was filled with patronizing critique of TV4, their long and frequent commercials and their terrible programs. Not a single positive word so far. This is the depressing reality that EU bureaucrats and the Swedish government will meet by restricting their highly competent public service competitor. There is indeed a call for a reborn Jonathan Swift!