Media in Sociology Topic 1 Ownership and control of the media


Topic 1-Relationship between ownership and control of the media 

Traditional and New Media-

  • Traditional Media refers to mass media that communicate uniform messages in a one-way, non interactive process to very mass audiences eg traditional radio and TV broadcasting, print newspapers 
  • New Media refers to interactive digital technology and media products, and social media, which enable people o create, share and exchange information and delve social networks
  • the distinction between traditional and new media is becoming blurred as mass media companies are increasingly using new media, including social media

Formal Controls on the media-

  • The law-eg liberal laws, laws against inciting religious or racal hatred
  • Ofcom(the Office of Communications)-official media regulator
  • The BBC Trust, together with Ofcom regulated the BBC and seeks to ensure the BBC remains independent of any pressure and influence from any source
  • The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) monitors standard of journalism in newspapers and magazines eg issues such as accuracy and invasion of privacy

How governments influence and control media output-

  • By official government press conferences and beings of journalists
  • leaks and off-the-record briefings to journalists 
  • the use of government spin doctors, who try to manipulate the media and news stories 
  • Refusal to issue broadcasting licences to those whom it deems are unfit and unsuitable 
  • the use of filtering and surveillance software to black access to some internet sites
  • electronic surveillance of email, monitoring of websites and intercepting of mobile calls 

Ownership of the media-

  • Features of media ownership-
  • Bagdikian highlighted that a handful of global media companies and moguls-what he called ‘Lords of the global village’-dominated the worlds mass media. The features of media ownership include: 
    • Concentration of ownership-of all kinds of media in the hands of a few very large companies
    • Vertical integration-ownership of all aspects of a single medium eg a film production company that also owns the cinema chains showing the films
    • Horizontal integration-media owners have interests in a range of media
    • Diversification-media companies have interests in a wide variety of products besides the media eg Virgin media have trains planes and banks
    • Global conglomeration-owners have global media empires
    • Synergy-media companies package and sell their products in different forms to mutually promote sales and maximise profits eg a film may alsoinvolvu a book, a music CD or download, a computer games, toys, etc
    • Technological convergence-several media technologies are combined in a single device eg a smartphone used to make called, text, watch film, surf the web etc
  • Bagdikian suggests this raises three questions: 
    • Are the media simply spreading a limited number of dominant ideas (the dominant ideology) that protects the interests of the dominant class in society 
    • do the owners of the media control the content of the media 
    • what affects do the media have on the audience they aim at 

Ideology, control of the media, and media content-

  • Instrumentalist Marxist Theory-
    • Mass media is an instrument used to justify class inequality:
      • owners transmit conservative and conformist ideology
      • convince general…


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