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Is There a Role for Economic Analysis When Deciding on State Aid to Public Broadcasters?

DOI https://doi.org/10.21552/estal/2017/4/5

Caroline Buts, Mychal Langenus, Karen Donders


By means of text analysis, this article examines the use of economic concepts and tools in State aid decisions regarding public broadcasters. We find that broad and general concepts are most frequently used and that more specific economic terms that can be found in the Broadcasting Communication surface rather seldomly in the public version of decision texts. Furthermore, we do not observe a substantial difference between the use of these terms before and after the adoption of the v2009 Broadcasting Communication suggesting that economic concepts are not more frequently used in recent years. We believe that economic analysis could bring additional clarity and support in several of the studied decisions, especially in cases where, for example, it is quite debatable which tasks fall under a public service obligation and which do not. Economic analysis would foster the evolution to a stricter and more rational State aid control in this exceptional sector preventing potential spillover-effects of aid into new activities.
Keywords: State Aid; Media; Public Service Broadcasting; Economic Analysis.

Caroline Buts is professor at the Department of Applied Economics. Mychal Langenus is PhD student at the Department of Business. Karen Donders is professor at the Department of Communication Sciences and heads the Media unit of research center imec-SMIT. All authors are at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Suggestions made by José Luis Buendía Sierra are gratefully acknowledged. The authors remain of course solely responsible for the views expressed.

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