In social democracies it has been the norm for the entertainment airwaves to be controlled and utilized by the national government. First radio and then television broadcast over-the-air were, everywhere outside the USA, managed by a government-sponsored and publicly-funded broadcasting authority. Even when private broadcast networks became legal and began offering their own programming to owners of receiving equipment, public broadcasting continued. Thus the major Commonwealth countries all still have a public broadcaster - the BBC, ABC, CBC, and so on.
These state-managed broadcasting authorities were initially organized around what has often been called the Reith Doctrine, after Lord Reith, the first Director-General of the BBC. Reith summarized the BBC's purpose in three words: educate, inform, entertain; this remains part of that organization's mission statement to this day. This credo has also been adopted by broadcasters throughout the world, notably the donation-funded Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States. The term 'Reithianism' speaks to equal consideration of all
viewpoints, probity, universality and a commitment to public service. This contrasts with a free-market approach to broadcasting,
where programming aims to attract the largest audiences or advertising
What we have had in Canada since the turn of this century is the worst of all broadcasting worlds, a publicly-funded national broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), that has been ruined by managers who have attempted by abandoning Reithianism to compete unsuccessfully with our nation's private broadcasters. Recently control of the broadcasting of our national sport, ice hockey, whose professional teams were a mainstay of CBC television, has been lost to a private network. This has prompted a long overdue howl of outrage over how badly the CBC is being managed and how far from quality broadcasting it has strayed.
While, as in the links above, much of the current umbrage is focused around televised programming, the same sins are true for the radio programming of the CBC and Radio Canada (its French language operation). It can be argued that radio is still as or more influential than television in cementing a sense of national identity across such a vast country (one only exceeded in size by the Russian Federation). On CBC broadcast radio, talk has been dumbed down and professionally knowledgeable presenters replaced by 'celebrities', many of whom are barely articulate. Quality music like classical and jazz, once the mainstay of public radio, has largely been sloughed off to a morass of cheap and unexplained internet channels. Advertising commercials, long a mainstay of CBC TV, are now also appearing on CBC radio broadcasts, which used to brag they were 'commercial-free'.
Locally here in Southern Ontario educational and commercial-free TV is available still through a provincial government and donation-funded channel (TV Ontario) and from a PBS broadcaster just across the US border, one that also provides commercial-free and well-curated classical music radio programming. What a shame that Canada's largest urban region should have to rely solely on our province's government and a US-based station for material that doesn't treat us all as airheads with virtually no attention span!