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Media Politics – Chapter 2

Media Politics – Chapter 2

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Media Politics – Chapter 2

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  1. Media Politics – Chapter 2

  2. Comparative Analysis of Media Systems

  3. Functions of News Media • Deliver information on the issues of the day and provide exposure to a wide range of political perspectives (“public sphere”) • Provide candidates, parties, and other groups opportunities to make political presentations before a mass audience (“electoral forum”) • Monitor the actions of government officials (“watchdog function”)

  4. Preview of Findings • American media are preoccupied with consumerism and audience size; reduced levels of public affairs programming and pervasiveness of “soft” news • Access to the electoral forum based on ability to pay (for TV advertising) • Erosion of watchdog function, and increased manipulation of the press

  5. Informed or Misinformed Citizens? The U.S. Case Poll: Barack Obama was born in the United States • True 58% • False 24% • Not sure 18%

  6. Informed or Misinformed Citizens? The U.S. Case, continued Poll: Barack Obama is not a socialist • True 40% • False 36% • Not sure 25%

  7. Informed or Misinformed Citizens? The U.S. Case, continued Poll: Sarah Palin is less qualified to be president than Barack Obama • True 54% • False 34% • Not sure 12%

  8. Informed or Misinformed Citizens? The U.S. Case Poll: Barack Obama is a racist who hates white people • True 12% • False 70% • Not sure 17%

  9. Foreign Affairs as “Dark Areas of Ignorance” (four-nation study) US(%) UK(%) FI(%) DK(%) Tamil Tigers 24 61 46 42 Kyoto Accords 37 60 84 81 Darfur 46 57 41 68 Taliban 58 75 76 68 Britney Spears 93 90 88 87

  10. The “Knowledge Gap”

  11. Explaining Levels of Information • Differences in media systems lead to differences in the production and supply of “civic” information • Market-oriented, unregulated media systems systematically under-produce “serious” news • Differences in political culture and civic norms lead to differences in consumer demand for information

  12. Differences in “Demand” for News • 39% of American respondents report that they watch national TV news more than four days a week; 78% in Denmark; 76% in Finland; and 73% in UK • 37% of American respondents say that they read a newspaper more than 4 days a week; 58% in Denmark; 71% in Finland; and 44% in UK

  13. Properties of Media Systems • Ownership: public versus private • Regulation: weak versus strong • Party Parallelism: tradition of “objectivity” versus expression of partisan views • Journalism: professionalized versus politicized

  14. Principles of Public Broadcasting The presence of a publicly-owned broadcaster ensures the provision of certain types of “welfare-enhancing” programming that the market alone would not provide Commercial broadcasters seek to deliver the largest possible audience at the lowest possible cost Private broadcasters therefore deliver programs with shallow but wide appeal

  15. Public Broadcasting • Public broadcasting” refers to television and radio networks funded by the government either in the form of “license” fees or general revenues • Some public broadcasters (for example, Raidio Teilifís Éireann and Korean PBS also run advertising to supplement their revenues • Germany €193; UK €178; France €116; Italy €94; No license fee in Spain

  16. Public Broadcasters Deliver Public Goods • Example of Switzerland: constitution specifies that programming must “promote mutual understanding and exchange between the various parties of the country, linguistic communities, and cultures” • In 2005, news, public affairs, and educational programs accounted for 38 % of the programs aired on Swiss public broadcasting

  17. Revenues of Major Public Broadcasters, 2005 (in Millions of UK Pounds)

  18. Public Broadcasters as Market Leaders • In most European systems, prime-time ratings are won by public broadcaster; their entertainment fare is highly popular • Public broadcasters are also given exclusive rights to cover major national sporting events • Over time, public broadcasters in Europe have developed loyal audiences

  19. The “Inadvertent” Audience • Public broadcasters are required to deliver frequent news bulletins during prime time, e.g. during halftime of soccer matches • News coverage therefore reaches people uninterested in politics • The size of the inadvertent audience is a major explanation of the smaller knowledge gap in Europe

  20. Broadcasting in Europe • Overall, European governments continue to treat broadcasting “not simply as a private commercial enterprise but as a social institution for which the state has an important responsibility”

  21. Role of Journalists • Professionalized journalism in the US, with well-developed norms and codes of conduct (“social responsibility”) • Autonomy from political movements/groups; “objectivity” in the US, “commentary” in Europe where newspapers are affiliated with parties (note: dominance of partisan press in the US, 1800-1850) • Mediated versus unmediated coverage of political actors: interpretive coverage in the US, descriptive reporting everywhere else

  22. Print Media: Tabloids versus Broadsheets • European tradition of tabloid journalism: high circulation, entertainment-oriented newspapers • UK’s three tier system: “quality” broadsheets (Times, Guardian, Independent), mid-market tabloids (Daily Mail, Daily Express), and popular tabloids (Sun, Daily Mirror) • Circulation figures (2005): • broadsheets: 6 million • mid-market tabloids: 8 million • popular tabloids: 15 million

  23. Why Regulate News Media? • Regulations designed to ensure delivery of civic performance: broadcasters as “trustees” granted exclusive rights over a scarce public resource in exchange for programming in the “public interest” • Regulations designed to promote the industry: FCC originally created as a “traffic cop” to address the problem of frequency congestion (originally with radio), DoD funding instrumental in development of Internet

  24. Forms of Regulation • Mandating frequency and timing of news broadcasts • Diversity of perspectives • Equality of coverage across parties (case of equal time in the US) • Ownership restrictions (i.e., ban on “cross ownership”) • Subsidies

  25. The Regulatory “Double Standard” • Print media less subject to regulation than broadcasters • Operation of a printing press does not interfere with any other press. Television and radio sets receive signals on a fixed number of channels, which have to be sufficiently far apart to avoid interference among the signals. Unlike newspapers, "one person's transmission is another's interference.” • Broadcasters given access to a public resource

  26. Important Court Cases Regarding Regulation • Red Lion v. FCC: “because of the scarcity of frequencies, the Government is permitted to put restraints on licensees in favor of others whose views should be expressed…” • Miami Herald v. Tornillo: “the choice of material to go into a newspaper, and treatment of issues and public officials—whether fair or unfair—constitute the exercise of editorial control. It has yet to be demonstrated how government regulation of this crucial process can be exercised consistent with First Amendment guarantees of a free press…”

  27. First Phase of US Regulatory Policy Early regulations aimed at promoting competition and programming diversity; “one to a market” rule and ban on “cross-ownership;” no cable operator could control more than 30% of a market “Fairness doctrine” required stations to air balanced treatment of controversial issues; extended to “right of reply” (Red Lion case); no longer in force

  28. Toward Deregulation • In 1987, the FCC repealed the “fairness doctrine” on the grounds that access to the airwaves was no longer a scarce resource; cable and satellite TV, VHS tapes, etc, are all seen as “substitutes” for basic TV. Market approach and “regulatory forbearance.” • Time Warner challenged the cap on cable ownership; court ruled that the cap violated TW’s 1st Amendment right to reach new audiences

  29. The Demise of “Equal Time” • The equal-time rule was designed to ensure that the public would have equal exposure to opposing candidates. The FCC rendered the rule meaningless by requiring that broadcasters only make available time to candidates on equal terms • Candidates who cannot afford to buy the same amount of ad time as their opponent are denied access to the public

  30. Limits on Ownership • Limits on cross-ownership eased (in cities with >4 TV stations a single owner can control a daily newspaper and two TV stations) • In 1976, stations were required to air at least 5% community programming and 5% informational programming (defined as news and public affairs) for a total of 10% non-entertainment programming. • In 1984, the FCC abandoned these requirements; it was now sufficient for stations to “air some programming that meets the community’s needs.” • Local news as “public affairs” programming

  31. Easing Restrictions on Concentration • In 1946, the Dual TV Network Rule prohibited one major network from buying another • In 1964, the Local TV Multiple Ownership Rule limited a broadcaster to one local station per market and prohibited cross-ownership of TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers in the same market • In 1985, FCC raised the maximum number of TV stations that could be owned by one entity from 7 to 12 • In 2003, the FCC eliminated all restrictions on cross-ownership within a single market, so long as that market had 9 or more TV stations

  32. Impact of Deregulation • “In radio, the top twenty companies operate more than 20% of all the radio stations in the country; in local television, the ten biggest companies own 30% of all television stations reaching 85% of all television households in the United States. In network television, the owners are all giant corporations…” • The result: homogeneity of program content

  33. Print Monopolies • Between 1910 and 2000, the number of dailies fell from 2,202 to 1,483. The number of cities with competing dailies dropped from 552 in 1920 to just 25 in 1987 • The percent of total circulation attributable to the ten largest newspaper chains in the United States now stands at 51% for weekday and 56% for Sunday newspapers

  34. Delivery of “Public Sphere” • Absence of “serious” programming in the US is attributable to a weak regulatory framework and strong economic incentives • Weekly supply (in hours) of non-entertainment programming in the Philadelphia market fell from 58 in 1976 to 24 in 1997

  35. Diversity in News Content: European Media • Despite significant deregulation in Europe, ownership rules remain stringent. In Germany, individual ownership of television stations is capped at a combined 30% of the national audience; in France no one owner can exercise more than 49% control of a national television network. • European countries impose strict programming requirements that apply even to commercial broadcasters. In Germany, any broadcaster with at least a 10% market share must allocate a minimum of 260 minutes of air time per week to minor political parties. • Again, the European approach is to treat broadcasting “not simply as a private commercial enterprise but as a social institution for which the state has an important responsibility”

  36. BBC Versus American Networks • BBC1, the flagship public station in the UK, devoted 22.1% of its 2002 peak hour broadcasts to current affairs, compared to only 9% by the commercial channels • BBC1 airs an average of 2.2 hours of news and public affairs programming during primetime on weekdays; NBC, CBS, and ABC average only one hour each

  37. BBC Versus CNN: Africa Coverage

  38. Party-Press Parallelism • European tradition of “polemics;” newspapers affiliated with political parties • In Italy parallelism extends to broadcasting; emerging trend in US with Fox News • Measures of parallelism based on media preferences of party supporters; when partisans read the same sources, the measure takes on a higher value • Parallelism in the US blogosphere

  39. A Typology of Media Systems: Liberal Model (US, UK, Aus) Mass circulation and dominance of privately owned media Minimal regulation of media Professional journalists autonomous from political parties, but subject to subtle government influence Weak political parties, no connections between social groups and media

  40. Democratic Corporatist Model • Coexistence of strong public and commercial media, the latter subject to regulation • Some traces of party parallelism (Scandinavia, Benelux, Germany)

  41. Polarized-Pluralist Model (Italy, Spain) • Press as an extension of political movements (Aftonbladet: #1 circulation daily paper partly owned by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation) • Active state intervention: dominant public broadcaster, subsidies for newspapers • Lack of professional norms or codes of journalistic conduct • Strong political parties

  42. Convergence of Media Systems • Since 1985, media systems worldwide are moving in the direction of expanded commercial broadcasting (increased audience share of private networks) and progressive weakening of government regulations over news programming

  43. Summary • News media in democratic societies are more likely to make good on their civic responsibilities when: • Society adopts a relatively stringent regulatory framework that requires minimal levels of public affairs programming • Broadcasters are given some protection from the market. Publicly-funded television networks have the necessary cushion to deliver a steady flow of substantive, “hard” news • Among modern democracies, the US media system ranks as the most commercialized and unregulated; news organizations are free to “shirk” their civic responsibilities • Consequences include uninformed and misinformed citizens

  44. Strength of Political Parties American parties weak; European parties strong Mass membership versus party identifiers Party organizations control recruitment of elected officials in Europe; in US, “free agent” candidates contest elections on their own with party organizations playing a minor role Party-based campaigns; no messages on behalf of individual candidates (changing nature of PEBs)

  45. Why are Political Parties Necessary? Aggregate political interests into electoral coalitions Nominate candidates for elective office, mobilize citizens to vote Reduce information costs of voters Deliver policy benefits following election (control votes of elected representatives)