PSM and the Digital Challenge: Purpose, Value and Funding

The UK is home to a unique and diverse system of Public Service Media (PSM) whose success in serving audiences and supporting the UK’s creative economy is widely lauded but whose future is now under threat due to a changing economic and competitive media landscape, new audience habits and concerns about PSM funding mechanisms.

This three-year project funded by the UK Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC Ref ES/X005690/1) investigates the purpose, public value and funding of PSM. At a time when changes in distribution and in the economics of the media industry have fueled consolidation and the rise of powerful global competitors, it examines the challenges faced by PSM in the UK and how they deliver public value.  New functions such as countering online misinformation and disinformation are not merely additions but rather they re-position PSM as elements of ‘critical media infrastructure’ which is a focus for this project.

The project runs from 2023-26 and is led by Gillian Doyle (Principal Investigator), Professor of Media Economics, working with Co-Investigator Professor Raymond Boyle and Research Associate Dr Kenny Barr, all based at the Centre for Cultural Policy Research (CCPR), University of Glasgow.

At a pivotal moment for the UK in determining the future role of Public Service Media and how it is to be funded, central aims for the research are to build understanding of the value that PSM creates for society and of how it can best be sustained in the face of unprecedented competitive and political challenges.

Using multiple case studies, the scope of the investigation will cover:

  • the changing functions and purposes of PSM organisations in the digital era;
  • how the value that PSM generates for society can be evaluated; 
  • lessons for PSM from alternative critical infrastructure sectors, e.g. in relation to improving resilience in the face of disruptive change and other environmental threats; 
  • the efficacy of alternative funding models for PSM in the UK;
  • implications for public policy.

At a time of concern about how PSM can adjust successfully to technical, organisational, economic and political threats and about how systems of funding for PSM ought to change to ensure that they continue to flourish in the global arena, this project and its outputs are intended to deepen and enhance public understanding of the changing role and value of PSM in the context of a rapidly evolving media ecology.

Project contacts: 

Professor Gillian Doyle (PI): 

Professor Raymond Boyle (Co-I): 

Dr Kenny Barr (RA):


  • Doyle, G (2023), 'SVoDs, new norms and the challenge for public service media', Journal of Digital Media & Policy, 14 (3): 287 - 302
  • Doyle, G (forthcoming, 2024), 'Digital Transformation and the challenge for Ireland's public service media',  Irish Journal of Arts Management & Cultural Management


  • Doyle, G., Boyle, R. & Barr, K. (Forthcoming) 'Public Value in the Digital Era: PSM As Critical Media Infrastructure’, Media Industries 2024: An international interdisciplinary conference, King’s College London 16-19 April 2024