Trends in the Ownership and Control of the Mass Media.
Ownership and Control
Bagdikian (2004) points out that,
in 1983, 50 corporations
controlled the vast majority of all
news media in the USA. However,
by 2004, media ownership in the
USA was concentrated in 7
Curran (2003) suggests that concentration of ownership of
British newspapers is not a new phenomenon. By 2002, just 3
publishers controlled 2/3 of national newspapers sold in the UK.
refers to media
aspects of their
when firms diversify into
new business areas in
order to spread risk.
Global conglomeration is the trend
for media corporations to have a
presence in many countries and
operate in a global market.
Synergy is a
where two or
to promote or
sell a product
refers t the trend
Why Should We Study Ownership and Control?
Doyle (2002) suggests that there is a need for societies
to have a diverse and pluralistic media provision so that
all points of view can be heard and abuses of power can
However, Pluralists may
argue that these
exaggerated. They argue
that media owners
manage their media in a
because content is largely
determined by the
demands of the
However, Pluralists may argue that these concernsa are exaggerated. They argue that media owners manage their media in a responsible fashion, because content is largely determined by the demands of the consumer market.
The Pluralist Theory of Media Ownership
The behaviour of media owners is constrained by the market. The consumer is the
real power holder because the exercise the right to buy or not to buy. Concentration
of media ownership is aims at maximising audience sizes in order to reduce costs.
Vertical and horizontal integration reduce costs because media companies no longer
have to contract services out to other media companies. It is practically impossible
for owners to interfere in the content of newspapers and TV programmes because
their businesses are economically far too complex for them to take a regular interest.
Whale (1977) argues that media owners have global problems of trade and
investment to occupy their minds and so do not have time to think about the day to
day running of media.
A range of media products are available and, as a result, all points of view in a democratic
society are catered for. If some viewpoints have a greater range of media representing
them, this is not necessarily biased.
A significant share of the media market in the UK is
taken up by PSB which have a world wide reputation
The power of the media is also restricted by state and
government controls. For example, OFCOM monitors the content
and quality of TV and radio output on both the BBC and
commercial channels . This combination of audience and
regulator prevents unscrupulous media owners imposing biased
content upon the general public.
The professionalism of journalists and editors means they
would never allow owners to compromise their
independence. Journalists have too much integrity to be
biased regularly in favour of one particular perspective. The
media also have a strong history of investigative journalism,
which has often targeted those in power.
Audiences do no passively accept what is
being fed to them. Audiences are
selective and often critical of media
The Marxist Critique of Media Ownership and Control
The Glasgow University Media Group
The journalistic desire not to rock the boat is mainly motivated by profit. Curran argues
that jounalists are now only a moderating influence. their objectivity and impartiality has
been undermined by the fact that journalists are not immune to the way the labour market
has changed in the UK over the past 10 years. Unemployment has grown considerably
among journalists and there is an increasing tendancy for media employers to take on staff
on temporary contracts. Compliancy with the ethos of the owner is therefore more likely to
secure a journalist a permanent position.
The result of journalistic
consensus is that the media
decide ehat issues should be
discussed by society and which
ones should be avoided - this is
known as agenda setting. The
media present us with a fairly
narrow agenda for discussion.
We do not get presented with
the really important information
and this results in cultural
The Fallacy of Choice
Barnett and Weymour (1999) argue that the quality of TV has been undermined by commercial pressures. they argue that the main aim of TV companies, including the BBC, is to achieve the largest audience. They argue that this has had a hegemonic cultural effect in the sense that education, information and news have
been increasingly side lined. Despite hundred of TV channels, we do not have more choice, just more of the same thing. Curran notes the same pressures in the popular press as the rising costs of newsprint in the 1990s led to a major decrease in serious and political news stories.