The choice of advanced TV standards in the United States, Europe, and Japan was strongly influenced by preexisting institutions, and especially by the broadcasting systems. Each region had its own pattern, with private broadcasting dominating in the United States, public broadcasting prevailing in Japan, and a mixture of private and public (tending toward further decline of public broadcasting) in Europe. The desire of public broadcasters to hold on to their niche in Europe and Japan played a very important role in the domestic and international politics of advanced TV.
Governmental regulation of broadcasting: general issues
Broadcasting systems are by their nature likely to be regulated by governments for a variety of reasons. First, there were historical precedents for state monopolies over postal and telegraphic systems. In many countries, the postal and telegraphic monopolies were simply expanded to include first radio and then television broadcasting as part of their mandate. There were a variety of political rationales for maintaining a public broadcasting monopoly, such as the transmission of elite-defined cultural values. But these political rationales were probably secondary to simple institutional inertia.
Second, the news and public affairs content of broadcast media made them important for the expression of ideas, and therefore susceptible to regulation because of the role of the media in the protection of free speech in a democratic society.