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Media Ownership, Political Economy And Media Content

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  1. Introduction
  2. The mass media as a form of capitalist enterprise
    1. The first filter
    2. Ben H. Bagdikian's book 'the media monopoly'
  3. Advertising
  4. The need for sources of information
  5. Attacking the media by the generation of a negative response
  6. Conclusion
  7. Launching the debate

Mass media has undoubtedly become the main medium used to distribute information among the population. The functioning of the mass media is complex and the influence it bares on shaping the audience's opinions and attitudes colossal, making its control a great source of power. This ensemble of institutions and methods is interrelated with political, economical and social institutions and has therefore been studied in great depth. The aspect that will be examined in this presentation is the functioning of the mass media as large corporations, profit oriented organizations. To understand media functioning it is necessary to have knowledge of who owns those organizations, the pressures and influences they are subjected to, and what affect those elements bear on media content, the information audiences have access to. One of the main sources we used is the book ?manufacturing consent, the political economy of the mass media? by Edward S. Herman & Noam Chomsky that proposes a ?propaganda model? to explain how media ownership is at the root of what information and messages the audience has access to. The definition of propaganda focuses on the unrestrained process and most specifically on the purpose of the process: propaganda is the intentional and organized attempt to shape perceptions, control and direct behaviour to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist. Propaganda is an attempt to impose a message with an objective that has been established a priori.
The model proposes an explanation, of how media content is used to uphold the dominance of the ruling elite. According to the authors, all news goes through a variety of filters before we, as audiences, have access to them. By the end of this ?filtering? process, only what is considered ?newsworthy? by the ruling elite reaches us.
The mass media are a form of capitalist enterprise whose owners aim at maximizing their profit. They have evolved similarly to other enterprises undergoing processes concentration including integration, both vertical and horizontal, diversification and internationalization. In the case of vertical integration, media enterprises have expanded into different kinds of businesses in an attempt to control either the sources allowing production or the distribution. Horizontal distribution involves expanding within the same market. Through the processes of internationalization, vertical and horizontal integration, those corporations are no longer simply media corporations, but have become global enterprises involved in a wide variety of sectors of the economy. As with other industries, the media is governed by economy, promoting commodities to consumers, namely the audience, having to deal with competition in order to maximize profit? In his article: ?He Who Has the Gold Rules? (February 13, 1996), David Morris points out the fact that the increasing concentration of print and electronic media into mega corporations such as General Electric, Time Warner, Walt Disney Company or CBS Corporation reinforces the basic law of money and politics. The mass media is governed primarily by capitalism.
Ownership of the media has traditionally been in family or State hands and despite the diffusion of share ownership, control remains highly concentrated among a small number of share holders that have interests in a variety of other organizations as a result to a great extent, of the processes of concentration examined in the previous paragraph. Some of those ?media giants? are the Cox, Murdoch, and Turner families

[...] Relations of interdependency are established between the media industry and those bureaucracies. Costs are reduced for the media organizations in the production of news through the actions of those other bureaucracies that make available, facilitate the supply of or simply provide the information required. The government and other organizations use their position to get their ideas to reach the masses; they use their power to influence media content, and therefore public opinion to their interest. An example of the media used by the government to influence public opinion is the case of the alleged illicit supply of arms from Nicaragua to Salvadoran rebels, in the 1980's[5]. [...]


[...] As with other industries, the media is governed by economy, promoting commodities to consumers, namely the audience, having to deal with competition in order to maximize profit In his article: Who Has the Gold Rules? (February 13, 1996), David Morris points out the fact that the increasing concentration of print and electronic media into mega corporations such as General Electric, Time Warner, Walt Disney Company or CBS Corporation reinforces the basic law of money and politics[1]. The mass media is governed primarily by capitalism. Ownership of the media has traditionally been in family or State hands and despite the diffusion of share ownership, control remains highly concentrated among a small number of share holders that have interests in a variety of other organizations as a result to a great extent, of the processes of concentration examined in the previous paragraph. Some of those ?media giants? are the Cox, Murdoch, and Turner families . [...]


[...] It was always a porous wall, and now, self righteously they run a bulldozer through The content of the media is influenced by a large variety of processes that are the product of the political economy of the media and the profit orientation of those organizations, by the willingness of owners to increase their profits to the detriment of the quality of the content and regardless of the how true a picture of reality is conveyed to audiences. There seem to have been attempts to move towards changing the functioning of the mass media, shifting the focus from exclusively financial priorities as it is reported in an article written by Lawrence K. [...]

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