1 School of Communication and Culture - Media Studies, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University2 School of Communication and Culture - Media Studies, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University
The use of television formats, developed in one market and sold internationally for local adaptation, has become a widespread practice in international television (Oren & Shahaf 2012). In what could be termed a case of ‘creative destruction’ (Schumpeter 1942), the format trade’s acceleration has brought about major changes in both production and scheduling. This paper evaluates the impact that format adaptation has had in Denmark on public service broadcasters (PSBs) compared to commercial broadcasters. To illustrate transnational differences, references are made to Germany and Australia. First, a quantitative analysis of PSB and commercial schedules in Denmark is presented to establish the extent to which PSBs have employed formats between 2000 and 2012, and how this compares with commercial broadcasters. Secondly, a qualitative analysis looks into genre and the nature of the individual formats employed to assess any important differences between the formats in the two sectors. Most formats fall within entertainment and is well suited to providing the consumption friendly environment that commercial broadcasters seek to offer their advertising clients (Brennan 2012). Broadcasters also favour internationally tried formats over original content because formats satisfy the key management objective of ‘de-risking’ (Esser 2013). But PSBs historically have different objectives. The overall idea that viewers should be addressed as citizens, not consumers, still applies, and one could argue that formats ‘contradict[s] almost everything public service broadcasting [stands] for’ (Bourdon 2012). Nonetheless, Danish PSBs employ quite a few formats compared to PSBs in Germany and Australia, and also when compared to their commercial competitors within Denmark. Yet, there are important qualitative differences between the two sectors that give PSB formats a distinct public service skew. Consequently, criticism about the quantity and proposed lack of formats’ public service value is not justifiable.