Exploring Cross-Media Audience Practices in Two Cases of Public Service Media in Estonia and Finland

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Stemming from the concept of active audiences and from Henry Jenkins’ (2006) idea of participatory culture as the driving force behind the transformation of public service broadcasting into agencies of public service media (Bardoel, Ferrell Lowe 2007), this empirical study explores the attitude and behaviour of the audiences of two crossmedia projects, produced by the public service media of Finland (YLE) and Estonia (ERR). This empirical study aims to explore the behaviour, wants and needs of the audiences of cross-media productions and to shed some light on the conditions that support the dynamic switching of the engagement with cross-media. The study’s results suggest that audiences are neither passive nor active, but switch from one mode to another. The findings demonstrate that audience dynamism is circumstantial and cannot be assumed. Thus, thinking about active audiences and participation as the lymph of public service media becomes problematic, especially when broadcasters seek generalised production practices. This work demonstrates how television networks in general cannot be participatory, and instead, how cross-media can work as a vehicle of micro participation through small acts of audience engagement (Kleut et al. 2017).

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