|Title||The Debate over Universal Service in the European Union: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose|
This article looks at the concept of 'universal service' in the European Union (EU). It starts by placing the evolution of universal service policies into their national and EU contexts. The implications of liberalisation are then examined, followed by the more recent factors which have raised questions about the definition and delivery of universal service. Convergence in communication technologies, the prominent position that the vision of 'information society' occupies in the EU and national policy agendas, the internet and its commercialisation have all combined to bring renewed interest in the concept of universal service, in policy rhetoric at least. It is maintained that the focus of 'information society' and 'digital divide' policy frameworks has been misplaced. Drawing from a synthesis of former sector specific approaches, it is argued that the emphasis needs to shift from access to infrastructure (a traditional telecommunications consideration) to content issues. In turn, content regulation will continue to be important whilst intervention for the attainment of public policy objectives has already been proved necessary. Taking into consideration the weakness of the European Commission in dealing with content matters, it is suggested that reliance on the subsidiarity principle can assist member states to effectively perform their universal service policies.
|Journal||Convergence: the journal of research into new media technologies|
|Journal citation||8 (2), pp. 80-98|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.1177/135485650200800205|