Ownership and control of the media

  • Created by: Joanna R
  • Created on: 09-03-17 12:57

Key Terms

Concentration of ownership

British newspaper industry

British broadcasting media

Horizontal integration

Vertical integration

Lateral expansion

Global conglomeration


Technological convergence

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Theories of media ownership and control


Instrumental Marxist

Hegemonic Marxist


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Has a platform for everyone

Wide range of products; consumer gets to decide what they want

Companies want a large audience; they will do what the audience wants

Democratic mirror

Policies and legal obligations put against them to prevent bias

Restricted by state control

Journalists do not like to compromise their independence

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Pluralist - evaluation

Curran - owners choose their employees to suit their opinions and values. Those who conform to these opinions will get big rewards 

Ignore that many journalists rely on official sources

Trowler - when 500 journalists visited soldiers in Iraq; all their articles were one sided because each journalist had a personal attachment with a soldier

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Instrumental Marxists (1)

Miliband - media is a key role in justifying and reproducing class inequality. Media does this through transmitting conservative and conformative ideology in the form of news and entertainment. The role of the media is to convince the general public that ruling class idelogy is truthful and factual. The media does not encourage people to be critical of the capitalist system. Representations of wealth and the Royal Family are always positive.

Ethnic minorities are represented as criminals and migrants. Castles and Kosack argue that this suits the capitalist system so that the WWC are distracted from the real cause of inequality.

Media ensures that the audience only gets a narrow range of 'approved' views, and that critical views are rarely heard of.

Media is happy to transmit ruling class ideology because the owners are part of the ruling class. Mr Berusconi owned three tv stations in Italy, and these stations were instrumental of his win of becoming Prime Minister.

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Instrumental Marxists (2)

Curran - conducted a systematic experiment on British Press. Found high levels of ownership interference and manipulation.

He found that in 1920 - 1950 = Express Newspaper owner said, "I run Express Newspaper merely for the purpose of propaganda".

In 1951 - 1974 = investigative journalists were very common but they still had to favour a political party.

In 1975 - 1992 = profit was the main focus.

Since 1992 = papers were based on political ideology 

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Instrumental Marxists - evaluation

Rarely explains how an owners’ media manipulation works in practice.

Only interested in how media ownership and control relates to social class relationships and inequalities.

Feminists would say that they ignore the role of media owners in transmitting patriarchal ideology.

Assumes that ruling-class ideology has an effect on its audience in the form of false class consciousness. Gramsci argues that the working class are likely to experience ‘dual consciousness’ which is where they may agree with the aspect of ruling-class ideology, but their experience of everyday life and work means that they have the ability to see through and reject the ideology that is transmitted to them.

They fail to acknowledge that may journalists still see themselves as the guardians of the public interest and dedicate their careers to exposing member who abuse their powers.  

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Hegemonic Marxists

Hegemonic - the economic, social and cultural dominance of one group or another

Glasgow University Media Group (GUMG) - media content supports ruling class ideology but this is an accidental by product because of the social backgrounds of journalists

Journalists have a 'middle of the road' view, and this appeals to the majority

Journalists have the desire to make profit, not to transmit capitalist ideology

Agenda setting - media only presents a narrow agenda. Does not provide really important information that affects our choices on society. 

Jones - media owners, editors and journalists are part of the 'Establishment'. This is an alliance of unaccountable powerful groups that are bound together through common economic interests and shared mentalities. Instead of the media criticising this establishment; it has become part of it.

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Hegemonic Marxists - evaluation

Vague about what constitutes ideology and the effects it has.

GUMG implies that owners have little or no input into media production which is unrealistic.

Does not include that agenda setting is a patriarchal exercise that serves to limit women's role in production and content in the media.

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Strinati - countries like UK have transformed into a postmodern and post-industrial society with service economies.

A postmodern society has 3 characteristics: 

1) its media saturated

2) underpinned by globalisation

3) lack of truth; knowledge, ideas and lifestyle is considered most reliable and important.

These characteristics mean that sociologists can no longer claim that owners, editors and journalists can influence audiences because media messages are polysemic (can be interpreted in multiple ways). 

Therefore, power of knowledge is given to consumers rather than controlled by media owners.

Leverne argues that members in today’s society have a greater choice so they can challenge meta narratives. For example, they can use social media to organise riots.

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Post-modernism - evaluation

Often vague and frequently based on anecdotes rather than research based evidence.

Probably exaggerate the impact of media saturation.

Fail to acknowledge the existence of structural inequalities.

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