In the context of the Three-Step-Test for its teleservices, the ZDF (second channel of German television broadcasting) has assigned the Hans-Bredow-Institut with an academic expert report on as yet discussed criteria for the determination of public value and the requirements for measuring these criteria.
A public value orientation involves distinction from the market principle as well as from hierarchic governance; instead social involvement in public institutions and their democratic governance is emphasised. Literature, however, shows very diverse notions of public value.
In the light of legal restrictions and peculiarities of the public discourse on the mandate and functions of public broadcasting, it is suggested to name those functions public value, which prove themselves, more specifically, relevant to public and society or contribute to the fulfilment of democratic, social and cultural needs. The entertainment value within the concept of public value represents a means to achieve the intended effect. The evaluation has to involve society’s perspective, i.e. the users themselves and representatives of relevant social groups: a media offering may be attested public value when users and/or relevant social groups credit this offering with relevant social functions.
In order to determine the public value of a media service, four main criteria were identified: first the effect; to what extent the service fulfils the intended functions for society, secondly as a requirement the accessibility and coverage of the offering, thirdly as further requirement five essential quality objectives (comprehensibility, professionalism, innovation, relevance, value-orientation), fourthly on a meta level the transparency of the determination process of public value. One round through the various discourses on public value of teleservices shows that the different perspectives can be allocated sufficiently to these criteria, but they differ in which criteria are given priority.
The biggest challenge for the evaluation of public value as it is understood here, is to capture the “effects” of the respective offerings. In view of the required practicability it is suggested to develop auxiliary criteria, which can be integrated in as many surveys as possible. In doing so, the users’ self-assessment on the functions of the experienced services can be included. It is also conceivable to develop a module to cover the perceived democratic, social and cultural functions of online offerings, which can be used in various surveys.