Date submitted: August 29, 2013
Ownership of Media and Its Implications
The Issue of Media Ownership
Media ownership has been a hot topic for quite some time. In the Philippines, where private-ownership of the media is more common, the issue now is whether or not foreigners can own more than 40% of a media company. This is a country that has also experienced dominance of state-owned media under martial law and during that time, and Filipinos did not accept that sitting down but they fought hard for press freedom. Now, with the balance of privately owned and state-owned media companies, credibility is now being questioned for some private newspaper companies with owners that are also taking part in other business ventures, and the credibility of some local TV networks are also under scrutiny for being more careful on how they report issues connected to their sponsors and advertisers.
In other countries, media ownership has also sparked major debates. In the US, for example, last year there was a huge debate regarding the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) consideration of lifting the ban on newspapers owning radio stations in the same town and to also adjust its longstanding media ownership rules. According to Freepress.net, in reaction to this, more than 100,000 people signed a petition asking the FCC to not push through with the reforms, more than 600 people called members of congress to ask them to fight the reforms, and ten senators wrote letters to the FCC to fight more media consolidation. Also, more than 40 local and national civil rights groups voiced their concerns for the reforms.
It's obvious that media ownership is not something that is taken lightly by the general public of the mentioned countries. But why make a big deal about who owns the media? Simple: because media is powerful. A study done by the World Bank in 2002 regarding media ownership describes Demsetz and Lehn's insight, which is that whoever owns the media wields the ability to influence public opinion and the political process. They call this large amenity potential or control benefits. The ability to influence public opinion and the political process can either be used responsibly or for self-seeking purposes. One example of a responsible use of media is the toppling of the corrupt Fujimori administration in Peru. It was a small private network, the only one not under the unofficial payroll of the administration that leaked videos proving corruption in the government. This action single-handedly led to the demise of the administration. (Coyne & Leeson) This researcher believes that in the debate of private ownership versus state ownership, there are expected and proven implications, but these do not always apply. One cannot simply say that one kind will automatically lead to one result.
Development of Media and Its Ownership
According to Jeremy Norman's study on the history of information started in 2004, the development of media has spanned centuries tracing back as early as 131 BC with the Romans' Acta Diurna, or daily announcements by the Roman government. It was around 1450 though when the first newsletters started circulating in Europe, and in the 1500s, Avvisi or hand-written letters have been documented to be in circulation. Eventually, newspapers came to be with many of the first newspapers privately owned, being established by writers, journalists, bankers, etc. Although majority of newspapers were privately owned, censorship was quite common throughout the years. An 18th century Englishman, Dr. Samuel Johnson justifies this by saying "Every society has a right to preserve public peace and order, and therefore a good right to prohibit the propagation of opinions which have a dangerous tendency." (iml.jou.ufl.edu) State ownership of the media grew with the rise of Communism in places like the Soviet Union and China. It was also present wherever there was an authoritarian government.
References: Government Controlled Media . (n.d.). The Interactive Media Lab at the University of Florida. Retrieved August 28, 2013, from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/STUDENTS/McCormick/govern.htm
BBC News - Myanmar profile - Media
Camus, M. (2012, November 6). SEC rules on foreign ownership. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved August 29, 2013, from www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/11/05/12/sec-rules-foreign-ownership-out
Coyne, C., & Leeson, P
Djankov, S., McLiesh, C., Nenova, T., & Shleifer, A. (2003). Who Owns The Media?*. The Journal of Law and Economics, 46(2), 341-382.
(2009). State versus private ownership: A look at the implications for local media freedom. Article 19, -, 1-10. Retrieved August 28, 2013, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jfi.2008.09.005
Please join StudyMode to read the full document