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Photo: “The Guardian Building Window in London“, by Bryantbob licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Hue modified from the original

Holtz-Bacha, Christina. “The kiss of death. Public service media under right-wing populist attack.” European Journal of Communication (2021): 0267323121991334.


With the surge of populism in Europe, public service broadcasting has come under increased pressure. The established media are considered part of the corrupt elite not serving the interests of the people. The public service media, for which pluralism is at the core of their remit, are a particular thorn in the side of the populists. Therefore, they attack the financial basis of public service, which is supposed to guarantee their independence. The populist attacks on the traditional broadcasting corporations meet with the interests of neoliberal politics and of those political actors who want to evade public scrutiny and democratic control and do no longer feel committed to democratic accountability. The assaults on the public service media are thus an assault on freedom of the media and further increase the pressure on the democratic system.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.