From rhetorics to practice: implementation of technological innovation within Spanish public service media


  • David Fernández-Quijada European Broadcasting Union
  • Montse Bonet Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Roberto Suárez Candel European Broadcasting Union
  • Luis Arboledas Universidad de Granada



innovation policy, media innovation, public service media, media policy, media management, Spain


In the context of media and information society policies, there has been deep controversy in Europe with respect to the legitimate use of new technologies by public service media. Through qualitative interviews and policy documents analysis with a case study, this article illustrates how three Spanish public service media organizations apply technological innovations in order to successfully achieve its public service remit and provides one of the first examples of innovation management in this field. Lessons from this study include the difficult accountability of innovation, the non-formal nature of its practice, the central role of techno-enthusiasts and the bureaucratic problems of developing open innovation practices.

Author Biography

David Fernández-Quijada, European Broadcasting Union

I’m Senior Media Analyst at the Media Intelligence Service of the European Broadcasting Union, in Geneva (Switzerland). Previously, I was Lecturer at the Department of Audiovisual Communication and Advertising of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain). This is the same university where I got my BA in Audiovisual Communication (2001) and my Ph. D. (2008) with a dissertation about the Spanish TV industry. I’ve also been a visiting scholar at the Institute of Communications Studies of the University of Leeds (UK) and at the DTT-Lab / CSP in Torino (Italy). My research projects focus on public service media, media industries and policies and communication technologies. When I was a scholar I also published on scientific communication.

I’m a member of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), where I am currently vice-chairing its Media Industries and Cultural Production Temporary Working Group.


ACT, EPC, & AER (2004). Safeguarding the future of the European audiovisual market: White paper on the financing and regulation of publicly funded broadcasters. Brussels: Association of Commercial Television in Europe.

Ariño, M., & Ahlert, C. (2004). Beyond broadcasting: The digital future of public service broadcasting. Prometheus, 22(4), 393-410.

Baumann, S. (2013). Adapting to the Brave New World. Innovative Organisational Strategies for Media Companies. In T. Storsul & A. H. Krumsvik (Eds.), Media Innovations. A Multidisciplinary Study of Change (pp. 77-92). Göteborg: Nordicom/University of Gothenburg.

Bech J., Molina T., Vilaclara E., & Lorente, J. (2010). Improving TV weather broadcasts with technological advancements: two cases from a 20 year perspective. Meteorological Applications, 17(2), 142-148.

Benavides Velasco, C. A., & Quintana García, C. (2008). Generación de conocimiento tecnológico y políticas de innovación: dimensiones e interrelaciones [Technological knowledge generation and innovation policies: dimensions and interrelations]. Revista de economía mundial, 18, 283-297.

Bonet, M., Arboledas, L. & Fernández-Quijada, D. (2013). Innovación tecnológica y servicio público: el abismo entre políticas y realidad. Derecom, 14. Retrieved from

Bonet, M., Fernández-Quijada, D., & Ribes, X. (2011). The Changing Nature of Public Service Radio: A Case Study of iCat FM. Convergence: the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 17(2), 177-192.

BOE (2006) Ley 17/2006, de 5 de junio, de la radio y la televisión de titularidad estatal, Boletín Oficial del Estado, 134, 6 June. Retrieved from

BOE (2009) Ley 8/2009, de 28 de agosto, de financiación de la Corporación de Radio y Televisión Española. Boletín Oficial del Estado 201, 31 August. Retrieved from

BOE (2010) Ley 7/2010, de 31 de marzo, General de la Comunicación Audiovisual. Boletín Oficial del Estado, 79, 1 April. Retrieved from

Brevini, B. (2010). Towards PSB 2.0? Applying the PSB ethos to online media in Europe: A comparative study of PSBs’ internet policies in Spain, Italy and Britain. European Journal of Communication, 25(4), 348-365.

Chesbrough, H. (2006). Open Innovation. The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Cunningham, S. (2009). Reinventing television: the work of the ‘innovation unit’. In G. Turner & J. Tay (Eds.), Television studies after TV: Understanding television in the post-broadcast era (pp. 83-92). New York: Routledge.

Cunningham, S. (2012). The new normativity: the innovation imperative. Paper presented at RIPE@2012 conference, 5-7 September, Sydney (Australia). Retrieved from

De Vaus, D. A. (2001). Research Design in Social Research. London: Sage.

Debrett, M. (2009). Riding the wave: public service television in the multi-platform era. Media, Culture & Society, 31(5), 807-827.

DOGC (2005) Llei 22/2005, de 29 de desembre, de la comunicació audiovisual de Catalunya, 4543. Retrieved from

Dogruel, L. (2014). What is so Special about Media Innovations? A Characterization of the Field. The Journal of Media Innovations, 1(1), 52-69.

Donders, K., & Moe, H. (Eds.) (2011). Exporting the Public Value Test. The regulation of public service broadcasters’ new media services across Europe. Göteborg: Nordicom.

Donders, K., Ranaivoson, H., Lindmark, S., & Ballon, P. (2012). Public broadcasters and innovation: A contested combination in Flanders. Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, 14(2), 265-277.

EBU (2012). Empowering Society. A declaration on the core values of public service media. Le Grand-Saconnex: European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved from

EBU (2014). Funding of Public Service Media 2014. Le Grand-Saconnex: European Broadcasting Union.

European Commission (2004). Innovation Management and the Knowledge-Driven Economy. Brussels: European Commission. Retrieved from

Fagerberg, J., Mowery, D.C., & Nelson, R.R. (2005). The Oxford Handbook of

Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fernández-Quijada, D., & Arboledas, L. (2013). The Clientelistic Nature of Television Policies in Democratic Spain. Mass Communication and Society, 16(2), 200-221.

Fernández-Quijada, D., & Fortino, M. (2009). Servicio público y patrimonio audiovisual: el proyecto VideoActive [The VideoActive project: Television as public service and audiovisual patrimony]. El profesional de la información, 18(5), 545-551.

Goodman, E. P. (2013). Public service media narratives. In. M. E. Price, S. G. Verhulst & L. Morgan (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Media Law (p. 193-215). Abingdon: Routledge.

Harrison, J., & Wessels, B. (2005). A new public service communication environment? Public service broadcasting values in the reconfiguring media. New Media & Society, 7(6), 834-853.

Jacka, E. (2003). “Democracy as Defeat”. The Impotence of Arguments for Public Service Broadcasting. Television & New Media, 4(2), 177-191.

Jakubowicz, K. (1999). Public Service Broadcasting in the Information Society. Retrieved March 12, 2012 from

Lewis, P. M., & Booth, J. (1989). The invisible medium: public, commercial and community radio. London: Macmillan.

Medina, M., Herrero, M., Llorens, C., & Miralles, S. (2011). Implementation of innovation strategy: The case of CCRTV Interactiva. In Z. Vukanovic & P. Faustino (Eds.), Managing Media Economy, Media Content and Technology in the Age of Digital Convergence (pp. 89–120). Lisbon/Podgorica: Media XXI/International Academy for Media Management Podgorica.

Moe, H. (2007). Commercial services, enclosure and legitimacy. Comparing contexts and strategies for PSM funding and development. In G. F. Lowe & J. Bardoel (Eds.), From Public Service Broadcasting to Public Service Media (pp. 51-69). Göteborg: Nordicom.

Nissen, C. (2006). Public service media in the Information Society. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

OECD (1995). The measurement of scientific and technological activities. Proposed guidelines for collecting and interpreting technological innovation data. Oslo manual. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Prado, E., & Fernández, D. (2006). The role of public service broadcasters in the era of convergence. A case study of Televisió de Catalunya. Communications & Strategies, 62, 49-69.

Raisch, S., & Birkinshaw, J. (2008). Organizational Ambidexterity: Antecedents, Outcomes, and Moderators. Journal of Management, 34(3), 375-409.

Raisch, S., Birkinshaw, J., Probst, G., & Tushman, M. L. (2009). Organizational Ambidexterity: Balancing Exploitation and Exploration for Sustained Performance. Organization Science, 20(4), 685-695.

Rogers, J., & Sparviero, S. (2011). Understanding innovation in Communication industries through alternative economic theories: The case of the music industry. The International Communication Gazette, 73(7), 610-629.

RTVE (2007) Mandato-marco a la Corporación RTVE. Retrieved from

Storsul, T., & Krumsvik, A. H. (2013). What is Media Innovation? In T. Storsul & A. H. Krumsvik (Eds.), Media Innovations. A Multidisciplinary Study of Change (pp. 13-26). Göteborg: Nordicom/University of Gothenburg.

Suárez Candel, R. (2012). Adapting Public Service to the Multiplatform Scenario: Challenges, Opportunities and Risks. Working Papers of the Hans-Bredow-Institute, (25). Hamburg: Hans-Bredow-Institute.

Tracey, M. (1998). The Decline and Fall of Public Service. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Van den Bulck, H. (2008). Can PSB stake its claim in a media world of digital convergence? The case of the Flemish PSB management contract renewal from an international perspective. Convergence: the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 14(3), 335-349.

Whittle, S. (2004). Public service broadcasting in the new media age: The BBC’s experience. Trends in Communication, 12(1), 3-13.