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Useful Notes / State Broadcaster

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What happens when the government gets involved in television; or indeed how many of the biggest networks got started.

State broadcasters are the "official" government-created TV station, typically the first created for a country (as the governments have the cash to set up the transmitter networks) and operating under varying degrees of governmental control. Typically funded by a license fee and/or commercials (sometimes exclusively the former), these organisations have a strong public service ethos - being obliged to represent parts of a country that commercial networks would not bother with or demographic groups that might be ignored entirely.

There is always the danger of a state broadcaster turning into a Propaganda network (although many state broadcasters have legal requirements to retain impartiality) - indeed many active broadcasters originate from periods where their countries were not democracies and have dark pasts in which they aided autocracy.

Real Life examples:

  • The BBC — the originator of them all
  • The ABC — Australia's equivalent to the above
  • SBS — Australia's multilingual public broadcaster to service migrant communities. It is partially commercial, with some ads between shows.
  • DR (Denmark)
  • SVT (Sweden)
  • NRK (Norway)
  • Yleisradio, or Yle (Finland)
  • Eesti Television (Estonia), which actually goes back to the days of the Estonian SSR.
  • Channel One, Russia-1, and Zvezda (Russia), with the notorious Russia Today being more geared toward the international market.
  • RTS (Serbia)
  • NHK (Japan)
  • KBS (South Korea)
  • CBC (Canada)
  • ARD and ZDF (Germany)
  • TVNZ (New Zealand) — although Network Decay has made it more a broadcaster owned by the state than an actual state broadcaster.
  • United States:
    • PBS and NPR are the closest thing the United States has to a public broadcaster, though stations are largely independent and are heavily reliant on grants and the donations of Viewers Like You.
    • The Voice of America is the US government's state broadcaster. It's pretty much unknown among Americans, however, as it is against Federal law for it to advertise to Americans. This was done specifically to prevent the Federal government from having an easy way to propagandize to its own people.
    • C-SPAN are a group of channels that show activity such as congressional sessions and White House news conferences. The channels were created early in the days of city cable systems and early satellite systems so they could have the ability to be used to provide general common interest in the same way as local broadcast stations.
    • Fox News zig-zags the trope, in that it is privately-owned by the Murdoch family yet is so closely aligned with the Republican Party that GOP politicians, including congressional and presidential candidates, raise their profile with the party's base just by making regular appearances. During Donald Trump's presidency, the sycophantic coverage given to Trump by Fox (and Trump's decision-making sometimes being influenced by what he watched on Fox) was described as a propagandistic "feedback loop".
    • NASA TV stands as the only TV network run by the Federal government for domestic audiences. As the name suggests, it mostly covers missions to space, with educational programming to fill time in-between.
  • TVE in Spain, as well as several smaller ones in the individual Communities, under the global name of Forta Network.
  • IRIB (Iran) is the only official governmental news agency in the country, and supplies channels such as PressTV, which broadcasts internationally. The chairman is selected personally by the Ayatollah, and as such, IRIB has not much in the way of impartiality.
  • CCTV, CNR and CRI (People's Republic of China) are the nation's three main broadcasters, the first and third being aimed at the international market as well as domestic. The staff is appointed by the state, and the news is subject to rather rigorous censorship.
  • TRT (Turkey)
  • Rai (Italy)
  • France Télévisions (France)
  • TVN (Chile), which is funded by ad revenue (except for NTV, their cultural channel, which receives special public funding and does not have commercial breaks).

Fictional examples

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four: Not just broadcast media, but all media - newspapers, books, even songwriting - are completely under the control of the State, and telescreens are omnipresent - and capable of spying on you.
  • V for Vendetta: The comic book has the government branch called the Mouth, which airs NTV (Norsefire Television) and the Voice of Fate radio broadcasts. The film has the BTN (an apparent replacement for the BBC), where Evey initially works.