This week reading steer us to a different direction: media but on business aspect. The two articles provide the analysis on three things focusing on global media organizations: first, the structures of global media organizations with specific examples, second: the partnerships between such organizations each other and local media organization and third: its role in shaping global media landscape. \
I have to admitted that I have little background knowledge on business aspect of media and journalism so it take me longer to grab a though of how the media morgues are steering the industry.
First, the article, The Structure and Dynamics of Global Multi-Media Business Networks studied the world’s largest multi-media corporations with diversified media-holdings like Time Warner, Disney, News Corp., Bertelsmann, NBC (owned by General Electric), CBS, and Viacom and largest internet company with diversified media holdings — Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Apple . All of them rooted in west. Since local and regional media are incorporating foreign products, it is the chances for global media organizations to pursue local partners to deliver customized contents to local audience. This process is complicated by introduction of new media markets, favorable regulations, proliferation of new media platforms and convergence of internet and telecommunication networks.
According to author, the expansion of global media corporations followed the establishment of World Trade Organization media privatization by IMF and relaxation of media ownership regulations through US’s 1996 Telecommunications Act. But these deregulations allowed the global media like News Corp to expand their reach into the developing world’s media market. As a result, it led the monopoly of world’s media landscape by a handful of global media organization in contrary to intended results of diversification of ownership and increase of citizen’s control over media.
The author’s highlight on the power of global media organizations shed the lights on an emerging trend that all other business has to embraced for their survival today. I like to say this is not just for media. All other local business from retail sales to internet firms today are facing fierce competition from entity of multinational corporation like World Mart or Google. It reminds me of the business landscape in my home country, Burma. There, some local business and state own corporations has grown into national level giants as their growth within national boundary was unrivaled by foreign companies because of economic sanctions posted by Western countries. This situation was changed by unexpected reforms by newly elected government and lifting of sanctions. Today, as the multinational corporations are entering into the untapped market of 60 million people, all local business and corporations fear the losses their strongholds and demands the national parliament to pass the laws for protection of local businesses and introducing mandatory regulations of local-global partnerships for foreign investments.
However, even with these unavoidable market deregulation and foreign competitions, media sector is exception in many countries. In Burma, local media industry is shielded by laws that limit the foreign investment in printed media to less than 50 percent of capital while no foreign investments are allowed so far for broadcast media. Although I am not sure about media laws in other countries, many countries have similar restrictions on foreign entity of local media scene. Especially, in China, despite the massive consumer population of 1.3 billion, the number available media is so minute with dominances of state own CCTV and its branches. Even in the decently democratic country like France, there are regulations that limit the broadcast of foreign music, movies and arts creations to protect the French arts, language and culture. This is despite the France’s leadership role to converge and unite the European countries under the umbrella of European Union.
It is understandable that deregulation of media contents and ownership is always sensitive one since media are uniting or disintegrating forces that can shape and reshape public’s opinions on many issues. Media contents are not just consumer products; it is also a part of national history, a contribution to our knowledge and an entity to the emotions and beliefs. Thus, my ultimate question here is Should media industry be always an exception in as deregulation of markets and lifts of trade barriers has become common in these days around the world?
The reading provides that the diffusion of internet and wireless communication has decentralized the communication network, challenging the monopoly of media ownership. The author refers this as ‘mass self-communication’ since it reaches global audiences and also users individually generate their own contents, chose platform of emission and play an active role in shaping the reception the process. Seemingly, this new hybrid form of media combines the mass communication with individual freedom liberate the media industry from small pool of media owners. But, according to the article, it is apparent that even the internet media still has the concerns for media monopoly. As demonstrated in the mapping, seemingly diversified multi-media contents are still under the control of existing media corporation and a number of internet companies, with crisscrossed partnerships between them.
Besides, since internet and multi-media are technologically enhanced platforms, it is still subject to monopoly and manipulation of those with the most advanced technologies. Although everyone is free to send and receive information on World Wide Web, not everyone has the ability to identify the targeted receivers, send with speed and accuracy, present the content in interactive persuasive way, access the feedback and moderate the traffics. Thus, in my opinion, even the digitization of information and diffusion is not panacea for ultimate media freedom and ownerships. It might be true that the traditional developed world and Western countries are no longer in the position to control the sky of internet and players from emerging countries, like China, India, Russia, Brazil, South Africa and some others from developing countries are also gaining control on the new media. But, the landscape is that the elite and local media of these countries are joining hands with elites and global media of developed world for a new form of monopoly.
Will the digitization of information and the rise of multi-media platforms liberate the media industry from the monopoly of media ownership?