Measuring the Impact of Public Service Media in Europe

Measuring the Impact of Public Service Media in Europe


Everyone working in public service media knows that PSM make tremendous contributions to society. Yet, measuring PSM’s impact remains complex because impact manifests itself in different ways (changes in knowledge, attitudes, behaviour) and at different levels (individual, group and society at large). 

With commercial media becoming increasingly sophisticated in tracing and communicating their societal contributions, the pressure on PSM from citizens and governments to better demonstrate that public investments (in the form of the licence fee or tax contributions) return value to society is mounting. 

This e-Master Class is designed to help EBU Members better understand if and how much their organisation’s activities contribute to society. For this, you will embark on an impact journey with faculty member Malinda Wink during which you will explore different models of PSM purposes and how they relate to changing audience engagement. Using case studies and group activities you will also learn how to plan, evaluate and track the societal change that your stories aim to spur. 

Who it is for:

  • Executives responsible for designing social impact strategies
  • Researchers responsible for assessing the social impact of media content
  • Journalists and content makers interested in creating stories that inspire societal change.

Skills Learnt:

Audience Needs: For PSM to measure impact allows them to better serve the needs of the audience.
Business: By being more relevant to its audience, PSM ensure their long-term survival.  
Strategy: Using impact measurement to help PSM design a new vision for the future.

Topics covered:

  • PSM purposes: defining ‘public service’, the public interest and the public
  • Traditional modes of engagement: ‘inform, educate and entertain’ 
  • Traditional modes of measurement: ratings, charter reviews, evaluations, metrics
  • Changing audience engagement: agency, co-creation and new forms of measurement. e.g. big data, deep listening, sentiment tracking, biometrics, collective storytelling models.
  • Partnerships and impact models: issues-driven interactions - from likes to legislation
  • PSM relevance and new forms of audience engagement: user-centred design, ‘produsers’, tailored services and global audiences.

Course Outline:

Session 1: PSM purposes and modes of engagement

  • PSM purposes: defining ‘public service’, public interest + the public
  • Traditional modes of engagement: ‘inform, educate and entertain’
  • Group Discussion:
    • EBU PSM model case studies
    • Examples of PSM purposes
    • Assumed relationships to audiences
  • Session 1 activities:
    • Identify a useful source of audience information + Be prepared to discuss how it frames the audience

Session 2: Measurement in the new public sphere

  • Traditional forms of measurement
    • e.g. ratings, surveys, focus groups, appreciation scores
  • Changing audience engagement: agency, cocreation and new forms of measurement.
    • e.g. big data, deep listening, sentiment tracking, biometrics, collective storytelling models.
  • Group Discussion:
    • Changes in audience practices
    • Changing mediaworlds and the place of PSM
    • Impact and genre: news, documentary and entertainment.
  • Session 2 activities: Identify a change in audience behaviour that has disrupted the way PSM operates. Was it anticipated? How did the organization respond?

Session 3: Social impact and partnerships

  • New forms of engagement: ‘produsers’, tailored services and audience agency.
  • Partnerships and impact models: issues-driven engagements - from ‘likes’ to legislation
    • Discussion + Case Studies
    • Case studies of social impact content and campaigns
    • Discussion of partnership models
    • Linking measurement to objectives
    • Forms of measurement (building communities, attitudinal, behavioural and  structural change)
  •  Session 3 activities: Choose a real or fictional example of PSM content and prepare evaluation of its attitudinal behavioural, community, and structural impacts drawing on a range of metrics.

Session 4: PSM relevance and audience engagement

  • Presentations of PSM content impact evaluations 
  • Group Discussion:
    • What questions do new understandings of impact raise about PSM relevance and accountability?
    • How might we use these new forms of evidence to make the case for PSM investment to Government?


For this e-Master Class, trainees will be asked to develop the following project:

  • Develop a two page evaluation of the public impact of a real or fictional case study of PSM content (it will help if the content chosen is directly related to a social issue).
  • The evaluation should speak to some key benefits to publics of PSM and provide a strong evidence base using a range of measures of impact. (N.B. the content of these may be or approximated or invented where data/ evidence is unavailable.)
  • Ensure that attitudinal, behavioural, community building and structural impact in the evaluation are considered.
  • Five minute presentation in session 4 to present key learnings to the group.