Media Ownership and Concentration in America
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Generally speaking, this scholarship can be divided into two groups: research that focuses on media ownership structures themselves, and research that focuses on the history and politics of media ownership policies. Research on media ownership structures he study of media ownership patterns demonstrates that many media sectors are marked by concentration, and in many cases markets can be described as duopolies or oligopolies.
A number of scholars have documented how a handful of corporations dominate the American media landscape. Ben Bagdikian arguably has done the most to draw attention to media monopolies, with the last iteration of the work that he began in the s showing how concentration of ownership also characterizes new digital media. More recent scholarship has shown how old media irms continue to dominate within new digital environments. Another important strand of global communication he International Encyclopedia of Political Communication, First Edition.
Edited by Gianpietro Mazzoleni. DOI: Much media ownership research falls within the subield of political economy, which focuses on how media are owned and controlled and how these structures igure within larger power relationships. Political economists look at how concentrated media mar- kets perpetuate power hierarchies and foreclose on democratic potentials. Whose interests are being served? What is the basis for ownership and control, terms of access, production, and dissemination of media?
Media Concentration | About ALA
Key American digital media markets have come to resemble what many would con- sider to be duopolies. While he inds that overall media industries are in rapid lux, he presents a nuanced view that sees some sectors concentrating while others are expanding, depending on the time period and a variety of other factors. The politics of media ownership Considerable research attention is directed toward the politics of media owner- ship structures and policies.
In particular, much of this scholarship focuses on the policy battles around media concentration, especially those involving the leading American regulatory agency, the Federal Communications Commission FCC. Some scholarship argues that as media ownership concentrates, commercial pres- sures intensify, oten leading to cost-cutting and disinvestment in news-gathering operations.
Scholarship showing these relationships is beginning to emerge, like the comparative research of Curran, Iyengar, Lund, and Salovaara-Moring that indicates how the lack of hard news in US commercial media leads to a poorly informed public relative to other democratic countries with stronger public media systems. Other scholars have looked at how digital convergence and technological disruptions have afected media ownership, or how concentration has changed over time.
A related vein of media ownership research focuses on the history of media ownership policy Pickard, Together, this scholarship contextualizes and historicizes contemporary policy debates by showing how media ownership patterns are not natural and inevitable, but rather stem from explicit arrangements—otentimes media ownership policies that received little public input or consent. A major focus has been on how ownership concentration limits the diversity of voices in the news media Baker, Accordingly, a growing body of research has focused on FCC policy and various means of measuring and evaluating media diversity.
Over the last decade, many scholars have worried that, even if further media consolidation and syndication might cut costs and pay short-term dividends, in the long term it might also lead to less original, in-depth news and information, as well as less creative enter- tainment media. Nonetheless, struggling US media organizations have called for more mergers even as media reform activists argue that the disinvestment in news, combined with rampant consolidation in radio, TV, and newspapers, has led to debt-saddled news organizations with fewer journalists.
Critical scholars like McChesney suggest that policy-makers should instead restore regulations like local ownership caps, break up conglomerates, and discourage new megamedia mergers. Future trajectories Even as media ownership becomes increasingly complicated by new digital media technologies, it will remain an important area for scholarly attention as long as media exist. For example, Rod Benson, Mattias Hesserus, and Julie Sedel forthcoming show how diferences in media ownership structures lead to diferent kinds of media content, with implications for democratic practices.
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However, much more research that connects media ownership structures with media content and efects is needed, especially scholarship that foregrounds normative considerations. Even in our new digital age, diferent structures of ownership deeply afect the contours of our media systems. Boston, MA: Beacon. Baker, C.
Media Ownership and Elections
Media structure, ownership policy, and the irst amendment. Southern Cal- ifornia Law Review, 78, Benson, R. How media ownership matters. Blevins, J. A political-economic history of FCC policy on minority broadcast ownership.
Media Ownership and Concentration in America
Media and Democracy: Resources for alternative news and information , by Kathleen D. Democratic Sens. See if they own your station Vox, April 4, Who Owns the Media? Free Press.
Media Consolidation Free Press. Media Ownership , by Pew Research Center. Concentration of Media Ownership Wikipedia. Testimony of Dr. Mark N.