The use of international television formats by public service broadcasters in Australia, Denmark and Germany

Andrea Esser, Pia Majbritt Jensen

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Today, the use of internationally licensed television formats, developed in one market and sold for local adaptation, is a widespread practice amongst commercial broadcasters around the world. But how has this trend impacted on public service broadcasting? Public service stipulations include the provision of content that informs and educates, helps imagine the nation, enriches the lives and culture of its citizens and provides an inclusive public sphere to support democracy. Can internationally franchised programmes fulfil these remits? And to what extent are they employed by public service broadcasters? Responding to criticisms of the international, commodified character of formats in general and their staple, reality TV and lifestyle entertainment more specifically, this article provides a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the use of international formats by Australian, Danish and German public service broadcasters. The article hopes to contribute to media policy debate and concludes by arguing that, even in the relatively few instances where formats have been employed, the benefits outweigh the concerns raised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-383
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2015


  • television formats
  • public service broadcasting
  • reality TV
  • popular entertainment
  • citizenship
  • cultural value
  • democratization of public sphere
  • scheduling analysis

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