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Media Ownership and Funding in the New Communication Environment

Sun, May 27, 11:00 to 12:15, Hilton Old Town, M, Haydn

Session Submission Type: Panel

Abstract

A transformed media environment - including the crisis in the funding of high-quality journalism and public service media - requires new combinations of theoretical, normative and empirical insight into media ownership. This panel shows that ownership remains a central issue for understanding the contemporary media, by presenting theoretical and empirical research on different modes of ownership and funding, including corporate, private, non-profit foundation, state and “arm’s length” public service modes, and drawing on a wide range of international case studies. It brings together eminent analysts with early-career scholars, and combines consideration of news and journalism with discussion of entertainment media. Political economist and policy scholar Victor Pickard kicks off the panel by explaining why questions of ownership matter more than ever in the era of platform giants, showing how policy laid the way for the current oligopoly, and outlining what reforms are necessary for containing new forms of media power. Media industries analyst David Hesmondhalgh continues on this theme by discussing the specific problems associated with the corporate form of media ownership, as opposed to other forms of ownership, an issue which is discussed surprisingly rarely in debates about media power. Two papers then attend to more specific conjunctures of ownership and funding. Maria Repnikova and Kechen Fang analyse Chinese local government interventions in journalism which seek to encourage entrepreneurial behaviours associated with commercial systems. Efrat Nechustai throws light on issues of public service versus corporate and private ownership by showing how positive socio-cultural dimensions of an entertainment format developed by public service broadcasters were affected as the format was adopted by privately-owned and more commercially-driven organisations around the world. Finally, eminent journalism scholars Benson and Sedel compare modes of ownership and funding of journalism in three countries, bringing the much-needed comparative dimension offered by the panel into sharper focus, by showing great variance between different forms of “non-profit” activity in different countries.

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