With competition from online streaming platforms, many broadcasters have viewed the idea of providing some form of personalisation of their services as a necessity to remain competitive.
However, the idea of introducing personalisation in the context of a public service media organisation presents some unique challenges. This paper presents an outline of the challenges posed by personalised services for PSBs, proposes means of measuring and evaluating them, as well as presenting a novel system for personalised radio services which attempts to address some of these challenges by design.
Our algorithm extends existing approaches, using historic editorial decision making to afford recommendation diversity, as well as automatic explanation and user refinement of decisions taken by the recommendation algorithm. Finally, we will present the results of an audience-facing evaluation of this system and outline areas for future development of this work.
In recent years, there has been increasing interest in providing personalised services, driven by demand from consumers and increased competition from new entrants to the marketplace.
As a result, many public service media organisations, including the BBC, have been keen to incorporate personalisation into their services as a response to this. There has been renewed interest in the technical challenges associated with personalising audience experiences of broadcast services, most notably the EBU’s PEACH project.
The personalisation of media services is not without its difficulties. Many have warned that media personalisation presents a challenge to social cohesion and public discourse, notably Pariser, who coined the term ‘Filter bubble’ to describe the way in which opaquely personalised media services can lead to a partial and biased view of the world on the part of their users.
These issues are of particular importance to public broadcast organisations, who are committed to diversity in their output. We argue that this also presents an opportunity for PSBs to differentiate themselves from their commercial competitors and to provide compelling and novel services with the public interest in mind.
This paper presents the results of a project to design a personalised radio service with public service values embedded within it. We review the relevant literature to identify the ways in which public service values are challenged by personalised services and then identify normative criteria for evaluating how well a personalised service serves public service ends. We describe a prototype developed with these criteria in mind, and present a user-facing evaluation of it, as well as indicating directions for future work.
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