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Sociology of the mass media: Media forms, ownership and control


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A presentation on the sociology of mass media; media forms, ownership and control.

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Sociology of the mass media: Media forms, ownership and control

  1. 1. The Sociology of Mass Media Ownership and Control
  2. 2. Media Forms: defining “media” TP p.779 - Print media: newspapers, books, comics, some advertising - Audio-visual media: TV, cinema, radio, various music formats - Huge changes over last 25 years; Pre-1990: all analogue TV, with only 5 channels (max.); These channels free to those paying the “TV license fee”; Today: all TV is digitalized (same tech as K-Plus in Vietnam), and 12 million homes subscribe to premium packages inc. movies and sports;
  3. 3. . • - “New” media: internet-based, interactive etc. - new delivery technologies: e.g. internet (76% of UK adults had access in 2011), laptops, handheld devices like 3G/4G cell phones, iPads, Kindles - convergence of media delivery technologies: cell phones, PCs, laptops, hand-helds etc all deliver numerous services to users - cross-media convergence: companies (e.g. electronics or telecoms/internet service providers) now work in many fields, and often converge with other media companies e.g. Comcast and Verizon (USA) - interpersonal and interactive: more choice in ways to project opinions/identity, communicate, gain/share information etc. e.g. social networking, blogs. OFCOM: 50% UK adults used SN in 2012
  4. 4. Trends in the Ownership and Control of the Media • Crucial information if we value diversity in media output and the avoidance of abuses of power (Doyle, 2002) • Owners/controllers of media organizations have more power than those of other sectors due to power to influence popular opinion ; and this can undermine the democratic process (Doyle, 2002) Concentration of Ownership - CR %= Concentration ratio %; total revenue going to the top media companies - CR4 to top 4 companies, CR8 top 8… if CR4 is above 75%, or if CR8 is above 75%, the ind. Is seen as “highly concentrated”. - Bagdikian (2004) : in “The New Media Monopoly”, states that both CRs have been growing in recent decades
  5. 5. . Ownership of mass media in the USA - Bagdikian (2004): 1983- 50 corporations controlled 90%; in 1992- just 22 - 2013: ownership concentrated in just 7 companies e.g. News Corp, Time Warner, Disney, Sony - New media e.g. SN: traditional media companies e.g. News Corp compete with cyber-media organizations to control social networking (very lucrative advertising). Microsoft owns a $1.36 billion stake in Facebook, for example British print media - 7 individuals dominate ownership and content of most British newspapers: - E.g. News Corp (Rupert Murdoch and family) who own major publications e.g. the Sun, the Times
  6. 6. . • Some newspapers e.g. the Mirror group are owned by companies, not individuals • And the Guardian is owned by the Scott Trust , a Trust founded in 1936 dedicated to preserving the journalistic freedom and liberal values of this very fine newspaper • Unlike newspapers, magazines are a big growth area of the 21st century; and the magazine market is dominated by just two companies • The Bauer group and IPC each publish around 80 titles Broadcasting media in the UK - The BBC is publicly owned and committed to a “centre (wing)” stance Other than BBC, Murdoch’s News Corp and Virgin Media dominate the market The music industry seems to be bucking the trend of centralized ownership; in 2011 six companies dominated, but last year EMI split up into four
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  10. 10. Strategies of media corporations Horizontal integration - - Corporations own a diverse range of media. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp owns newspapers in UK, USA and Australia, HarperCollins books, Fox TV, 20th Century Fox movies, NBC news channel It also has a controlling stake over UK satellite TV giant Sky, and Asian channels Star Sports, Star world and Star Movies
  11. 11. Vertical integration . - Corporations are increasingly trying to control all aspects of a particular industry sector e.g. Time Warner makes its own films and shows them in its own cinemas - News Corp owns not only TV channels but also TV and film studios that makes the products -  “Vertical integration gives media greater economic control over companies their operating environment”. TP p781
  12. 12. . Convergence - Growing range of technologies e.g. powerful laptops, 3G/4G phones, large HD TVs, games consoles - These allow fast, download/streaming of information, almost anywhere, very cheaply…as well as purchasing of consumer goods using credit cards - Also allow access to social networking e.g. FB, Twitter…as well as YouTube and shopping sites…all found using search engines like Google
  13. 13. . • Unsurprisingly these companies are converging; they were previously very separate entities • the smartphone (and laptop) create a media world where internet providers (e.g. Vodafone or Viettel) work closely with TV, music, shopping and photography companies to maximize overall media consumption
  14. 14. . Global conglomeration - Globalization lessens the importance of national boundaries that surrounded media markets - This opens up new international markets and encourages competition between media companies - As a result, most of the big media companies are transnational; present in many countries with no specific ties to any (names of these companies rarely show national allegiance e.g. News Corp, Virgin, Sky, Canal Plus) Branding - Like all transnational corporations, companies use brand imagery to become recognizable, and to create and utilize particular impressions in consumers’ minds e.g. Disney
  15. 15. Summary • 13 companies dominate the UK media industry • 10 of these owned by wealthy, powerful and influential individuals, not shareholders of trusts • The concentration of ownership is increasing • Vertical/horizontal integration, convergence, global conglomeration, and branding are key strategies used by media giants