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Submission Dates for Essay

and Reading Log

 Reading Log – Now due on
the 17 of Jan 2005
 Essay – Now due on 7 Jan
Media as an Organisation
LM 124
Lecture 3
Definition of Media
“The mass media comprise the
institutions and techniques by which
specialised social groups and
organisations disseminate symbolic
content to large heterogeneous and
geographically-dispersed audiences”
(Curran 1977:9)
Media: From the angle of
demand and supply
‘The growth of mass communications
is a dual process. On the on hand it
describes the development of an
industry, on the other, the evolution
of an audience. The relationship
between the two is one of supply
and demand for two basic social
commodities: leisure facilities and
information.’ (Golding 1974: 14)
Social Power and
Commercial Intentions
 Mass media always have an industrial and
political perspective to their activities.
 The ‘policies and professional routines’ are
‘located within the political, economic and legal
structures of society.’ (Corner and Hawthorne
 The media has to be studied at two levels;

-Economy – concerned with product and

distribution of materials goods and wealth
Politics –concerned with the power and processes
of social regulation.
Social Power and
Commercial Intentions
This means that media organisations
function within a society which
accepts the legitimacy of financial
gain, regard the profit motive as
‘natural’ and allows the media to
generate quite extensive social
Media message as a
 Features of media as a commodity means
that they, ‘ are not unique, variable and
unpredictable, but often manufactured,
standardised, always multiplied in some
way.’ (McQuail)
 Media form a significant part of the
everyday cultural life of modern industrial
 In this sense, media institutions can also
be seen as being involved in the
production, exchange and reproduction of
How do we study media
Three Approaches;
2. Economic/industrial perspective – looking at
the distinctive features of media as economic
3. Political Economic theory-looks at the
processes of concentration and the powers of
ownership but also the cultural and social
implications of commercialisation.
4. Public Interest – examine media structures
according to a public interest perspective
against the kinds of expectations imposed on it
from a national and political perspective.
Political-Economic thoery
 This theory looks at the relationship
between economic structure and media
organisation and the ideological content
of media.
 Media institution has to be considered as
part of the economic system with close
links to the political system.
 Media content produced is influenced by
the pressure to expand markets and the
economic interests of owners and
decision-makers (Garnham 1979).
Demand for media
Demand for media has been influenced by;
- The amounts of time available.
- The growing affluence of social groups.
- Differential styles and patterns of media
consumption and use – larger divisions of
social class, gender, age or occupation.
Features of Media
 Has to cater to different markets – consumer
market/revenue vs advertising market/revenue.
 Concerned about the social composition of the
market – income and education levels, whether
it is homogenous or concentrated geographically.
 Competition between media and uniformity in
terms of product.
 High ‘first’ copy cost – dependent on economies
of scale and hence vulnerable to demand and
advertising revenue.
 Ownership and control – how are the powers
Economic Consequences
 Like most commercial industries – there is a
tendency towards concentration of ownership(i.e
horizontal or vertical).
 Rise of International conglomerates.
 Reliance on advertising and circulation.
 Driven by profit.
 May promote its own political ideologies.
 Reduction of independent sources
 Concentration on largest markets
 Avoidance of risks
 Reduced investment in less profitable genres.
 Minority audiences often neglected
The Role of Media
 The autonomy of media professionals in
an organisation is constrained by two
main factors;
- Profitability – all producers are to an
extent vulnerable to commercial
- Regulations – media professionals operate
within codes of practice designed to
prevent unacceptable standards of
production or irresponsible behaviour.
External Regulations
 Besides internal codes of ethics, media
organisations are also subjected to external
regulation by government (I.e.official secrets act
passed in 1911, ‘prevention of terrorism act’ in
1988 to prevent IRA from accessing media)
 Legislation is also used to maintain fair
competition in the market place. This is mainly
evident in Broadcasting where laws prevent any
one company from owning more than one ITV
franchise or owning both a national newspaper
and TV station.But these boundaries have been
continuously eroded and modified especially with
satellite and digital technologies.
 TV and Radio are subject to the strongest
controls mainly for technological and
political reasons.The BBC’s licence is
renewed after ten years, the licence fee is
set by the government which also
appoints the board of governors.
 Their role is to ensure that BBC fulfils its
obligations. Non-BBC television services
including ITV, Channel Four, Cable and
Satellite are licensed and regulated by the
Independent Television commission (ITC).
Why is Broadcasting
 In the name of ‘public Interest’
 This meant providing locally relevant
information, balance on political issues
and diversity in terms of programming.
 In 1986 the Peacock Commission
endorsed the ‘public service idea’ – I.e.
keeping the quality and diversity and
national political and cultural interests.
Case Study – Broadcasting
in Britain
 Development of broadcasting from
1920s till today is characteristed by
significant technological and cultural
 The development of broadcasting
represents the relationship between
the state as regulator and the public
as consumers.
Principles of the BBC
 Funded by people who own a set.
 Two key ideas that shaped the BBC was the
licence fee and the notion of a monopoly.
 Through a royal charter the BBC was changed
into an Independent national organisation.
 It would not be directly controlled by the
government but still receive a licence fee and be
free from the entertainment led popularism of
other media.
 It also inherited a board of governors (12
 The governors would then appoint a Director-
general who would be responsible for the day-to-
Development of the BBC
 John Reith(1st general manager of the
 Reith’s philosophy, ‘ to inform and to
 Believed that the BBC had the objective
to ‘unify the nation.’
 Till world war 2- BBC tended to think of it
audiences as living in a ‘suburban Utopia’
– middle class with high cultural interests
like poetry, classical music, drama and

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