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Public Value Report
One of the key distinguishing features of Public Service Media from commercial media is defined by its orientation toward the common good, its Public Value. PSM does not achieve commercial revenues, but remits supporting the democratic,
social, and cultural cohesion of society. For the concept’s originator, Mark Moore, Public Value is linked to the nature of public institutions generating Public Value. Moore described the Public Value concept in 1995 with the help of four essential questions:
→ How much do citizens trust an institution?
→ How does an institution improve society?
→ How is the value of the service assessed?
→ How efficient is the institution?
The BBC transformed the concept during the 9th Royal Charter in 2004. The
ORF followed 2007, establishing the “Public Value Competence Center”, focusing
on all challenges affecting the Public Service mission. Since then, ORF
has documented the fulfillment of its core mission annually in the Public Value
Report, addressing the regulatory authority, parliament, the science community,
and other relevant stakeholders. It is published in print and online and
available at zukunft.ORF.at. The multiple award-winning Public Value Report is – according to ORF’s
Public Value structure – divided into five quality dimensions and 18 performance
categories, which are derived from the regulations valid for ORF media production.
For example, the mandate of objectivity (“ORF shall ensure the objective
selection and communication of information in the form of news …”) results in
the performance category “trust”. The performance category “diversity” results
from the diversity requirement mentioned several times in the law and programme
guidelines (“diversity of the interests of the entire audience”; “respect
for diversity of opinion”). The performance category “added value” results from various regulations on stimulating the creative industries (“As a commissioner
and frequent first publisher of artistic works and scientific findings, ORF shall
make a contribution to cultural events.”) etc.
The report summarizes the 18 performance categories in five dimensions.
These express the “individual value” – i. e., the benefit of ORF for the individual
citizen – as well as its value for society, for Austria, for European integration
and – in the sense of Austrian broadcasting subscribers or households as clients
– the “corporate value”. The overall dimensions and categories are:
→ Individual Value (trust, service, responsibility, entertainment,
→ Social Value (orientation, diversity, proximity to citizens,
→ Nation (Austrian) Value (identity, federalism, value creation)
→ International Value (European integration, global perspective)
→ Corporate Value (transparency, innovation, competence)
All categories focus on the distinctiveness of media content, quality and impact
of programs. The report documents ORF’s performance as comprehensively
as possible, both quantitatively and qualitatively. For example, the number
of broadcasting hours of factual TV, the number of radio news items and the
number of stories on ORF.at are published annually in the performance category
“Trust”. The category “Responsibility” presents ORF’s performance on
accessibility with the help of figures. In the category science&education”, as
in other categories, the number of contributions or programes on a certain
keyword is published, the category “value creation” documents, for example,
competitions, public events, concerts which, among other things, are organized
by ORF to stimulate intellectual and economic value creation in Austria.
In addition to figures and a selection of other data, e. g., awards won by ORF
staff, award-winning films and series, training courses designed to strengthen
the competence of ORF staff, ORF also documents the fulfilment of its mandate
in qualitative terms. To this end, the Public Value Competence Centre
invites representatives from ORF departments every year who have created
high-quality productions, to explain motives and backgrounds of their work.
These ORF employees, mostly editors, often managers, explain their understanding of Public Service quality to provide the recipients with information
on editorial enhancement. The selection of authors reads like a Who’s Who of
award-winning media work: Armin Wolf, Martin Thür, Dieter Bornemann, Zoran
Dobric and Hanno Settele are among them, as are Sabine Weber, Elisabeth
Scharang, Barbara Battisti or Christa Hofmann and many more.
But the Public Value Report also repeatedly publishes external voices commenting
on Public Service Media quality. The scientific community is represented
by various experts, like Matthias Karmasin, Larissa Krainer, Thomas
Steinmaurer and Corinna Wenzel from Austria as well as Graham Murdock,
Gabriele Siegert, Werner Weidenfeld, Mark Eisenegger, Christian Fuchs and
Kurt Imhof and many others from international research institutions. Numerous
media experts and journalists, such as Anna Maria Wallner (“Die Presse”),
Armin Thurnher (“Falter”), Hubert Huber from the “Kurier” or Amy Goodman
(“Democracy Now!”) have contributed to the understanding of Public Service
Media quality, as have prominent representatives of Austrian civil society, such
as Cornelius Obonya, Michael Landau or Martin Schenk. The list of authors
who provide their normative or evaluative contribution to public service quality
grows each year, reflecting the fact that questions of media quality are of
increasing importance in a market subject to disruptive change. Ultimately,
each contribution provides its own answer to the question of who in particular
benefits from Public Service Media, how trust in Public Service Media can be
ensured, how efficiently ORF acts, and finally: what are the values supporting
the democratic, social and cultural cohesion of society in various media-related
ways – thus ensuring that the discourse on public service quality helps to
create the Public Value of tomorrow.