Institutions operating beyond direct control of government, such as central banks, constitutional courts and public broadcasters, enjoy guarantees of de jure independence, but de jure independence is no guarantee of de facto independence. This is especially so for public broadcasting, where cultural variables are often assumed to be decisive. In this article, the de jure and de facto independence of thirty-six public service broadcasters world-wide are operationalized, and de jure independence is found to explain a high degree of de facto independence when account is taken of the size of the market for news. Other variables considered in previous literature – such as bureaucratic partisanship and the polarization of the party system – are not found to be significant.
(Online publication November 17 2009)
* Department of Social and Political Sciences, European University Institute (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). The author wishes to thank Adrienne Héritier, Michaël Tatham, Alexander Trechsel and the anonymous reviewers of this article, whose comments and criticism greatly improved the argument. He also thanks Niki Yordanova, Elias Dinas, Jeppe Olesen, Lúcio Tomé Féteira, Peeter Vihalemm and Katie De Noël (European Broadcasting Union), all of whom provided data, and Kristen Kufel, who helped with German legal texts.