Skip to main content
Journalism Fellows' Papers
Practice of Journalism

A comparison of arts and culture television programmes between the BBC and KBS

Reuters Institute Fellow's Paper

In many parts of the world, arts programming on television has lost ground to more popular genres (such as entertainment and drama), and its broadcasting times have been pushed to after midnight on weekdays or somewhere during daytime TV. 

Youngsuk Song, a Senior Producer and Director for Arts and Culture at the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), who was a FBC fellow during 2013/4, asks whether this is the inevitable fate of arts and culture on television.

In his paper, ‘A comparison of arts and culture television programmes between the BBC and KBS’, Young analyses the various challenges for public broadcasters, and identifies practical and detailed solutions through which they can contribute to the ‘democratisation’ of enjoyment, including bridging the cultural gap between specialist audiences and general audiences in the media environment of the 21st century. Young finds that even though arts and culture programmes are crucially important for maintaining and legitimising core values of public service broadcasters, they have been marginalized in the highly-competitive media environment where ratings say everything. They have been challenged by the declining quality of production, modest viewing figures, weak scheduling, and the advent of online television. But Young is optimistic about the future. 

He concludes that ‘despite the proliferation of new media and the appearance of new content providers, television content itself and its leverage still remains very important in the market because the creation of compelling and original arts content, fortunately, still belongs to primarily to terrestrial broadcasters. In that sense, the ability to build powerful brands (e.g., BBC Arts, KBS Arts) and to explore various areas of arts with more diversified innovative approaches will be as relevant in the 21st century’s media landscape as they are today.

As with all Fellows’ research papers, any opinions expressed are those of the author and not of the Institute.

Image: From Television Demonstration Film. Original transmission not publicised, BBC Television Service, 1937