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Spilling Over and Crowding Out: The Effects of Public Sector/Private Sector Convergence and Competition, in the Provision of Public Goods


  • Diana Barrowclough


This paper develops an original model of product differentiation, to contribute to the debate about the regulation and finance of public television. It goes beyond the conventional analysis in this topic, by showing the spill-over effects that a public broadcaster can have upon commercial broadcasters. It shows how the existence of a publicly-financed, free-to-air channel (such as the BBC) can affect the behaviour of advertiser-financed, free-to-air channels (such as the ITV). In particular, it shows what happens if the output of the public channel converges with that offered by private firms, so that it becomes less distinctive; and or it introduces advertising. These are timely issues, given the extent to which public broadcasters are increasingly criticised for seeking popularity, losing distinctiveness, and in many cases, introducing advertising. These tensions are being felt in the television sectors of virtually every country of the world. To illustrate these and other questions of this nature, we develop a model that clarifies the interplay of the key issues. Moreover, the model has wider parallels to other sectors where services are also offered free at the point of access, but financed by advertising. The most obvious example is the internet. The following pages therefore develop an original model of product differentiation in two dimensions, following the tradition of Hotelling and Cournot competition. The horizontal product attribute is programme quality or type, and the vertical attribute is level of advertising. Broadcasters compete for viewers by altering their levels of advertising. The second novelty of this model is its pricing scheme, which captures the unusual nature of television advertising markets. Channels sell quantities of airtime to advertisers, the unit price of which is determined by the number of viewers. Relative demand therefore plays the role of price in a Cournot model, except there can be different prices for diff

Suggested Citation

  • Diana Barrowclough, 2001. "Spilling Over and Crowding Out: The Effects of Public Sector/Private Sector Convergence and Competition, in the Provision of Public Goods," CESifo Working Paper Series 569, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_569

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tore Nilssen & Lars Sørgard, 1998. "Time Schedule and Program Profile: TV News in Norway and Denmark," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(2), pages 209-235, June.
    2. Nilssen, Tore, 1997. "Sequential location when transportation costs are asymmetric," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 191-201, February.
    3. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Goodman, Robert P, 1973. "Private Demands for Public Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 280-296, June.
    4. Nilssen, T & Sorgard, L, 1996. "Time Schedule and Programme Progile : TV News in Norway and Denmark," Papers 14/96, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
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