Thursday, October 1, 2009


Regulation is when a nation state guides the content and general direction of mass media. Photo by French photographer René Maltête, 1960.

PAPATHANASSOPOULOS: 1. The Effects of Deregulation
The author explains that his research concerns the early 1980’s in Western Europe. He begins by outlining the general changes in television broadcasting:
-uncertainty over new technology and “new media”
-increasing costs for programming, administration and licensing
-demand for liberalization of old monopolies, especially in telecommunications

-transforming broadcasting to marketplace rather than cultural entity
-concern over inward and outward investing

The overall direction of European media during the 1980’s was toward deregulation. This meant a gradual decrease of state controlled media, to the point that the very idea of state media was becoming a thing of the past. Papathanassopoulos explains that “with deregulation, one sector of the economy after another is ‘liberated’ to capital’s unmonitored authority.” The idea of media as “public” is deceased as people are willing to pay for cable and technology services that provide more options.

An understanding of the historic process of deregulation is the essential starting place to understanding European media today. One reason for deregulation was the increasing diversity of technology with satellites, cable ad telecommunications such as mobile phones.
Papathanassopoulos explains that new technology
-required new regulations
-had a ripple effect across sectors
-created new global markets

With deregulation, the liberal environment allows companies to respond to new technology but can result in bigger monopolies that later need government intervention.

Public Service Broadcasting in Europe had a greater presence than in the US. It has provided
-universal service, free and in all locations
-balanced programming
-balanced political agenda
-independence from commercial entities and some government bodies (there was variation between stations in public and private funding)

5 challenges in the television sector were

-organizing and controlling media in countries with political instability

-increasing competition

-funding problems and advertising driven budgets

-language diversity, especially within counties like Belgium or Switzerland

-limited frequencies

Deregulation is a much larger practice of creating “enterprise culture” around the globe, essentially spreading a competitive market into every area of life. Papathanassopoulos suggests that the idea for deregulation came from the US and then to Europe.

-governments were supporting private channels

-television was at a saturation point with little licensing profits
-broadcasters were now responsible to diversity
-country to country competition

-television was expanding to lager questions about communications

Numbers of European channels

1989: 90

1996: 220

2000: 580

There were also “injudicious” deregulations happening in Italy, Luxembourg, France, Germany followed by Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium then Scandinavian countries, Spain and Greece and finally in the 1990’s in Eastern Europe.

Summary of Effects of Deregulation

Digital television and services also offer a yet unmeasured influence on all areas but these are some observations by the author.

Programming: Increased needs created an increased dependency on the US, purchasing $2.5 billion in content in 1995 alone. Yet there is evidence the Europeans want to keep their local channels which amount to 70% of their viewing.

Programming Imports: The US is the leader in media exportation. The EU trade deficit in the entertainment sector is approaching 7 billion Euros with US exports amounting to 60-90% of revenues (movie ticket sales etc) while the European share of the US market is about 1-2%. A program introduced in 2001 called “Media Plus” supports European media within and outside the EU.

Inglorius Basterds, 2009, is an exception to the rule by using a multi-language format, making it more export friendly. Most American films are dubbed in export.

Commercialization and quality: Competition for audiences meant a general increase in entertainment, especially with sex and violence.

Tabloidization of the news: Ratings driven news means more international content and human interest stories creating infortainment. Papathanassopoulos suggests that news seeks out scandals and political crime for the audiences. Even the BBC has been accused of sensationalism.

Financing: Competition means competing for advertisers. Sponsorship and subscriptions are other revenue generators.

Public broadcast: General audience decrease and an effort on their part to offer thematic channels.

Media Ownership: The diversity of channels is combined with cooperation between broadcasters that eventually leads to convergence and possible oligarchies in media that may eventually be an uneven control of the system.

Proximate television: Regional channels try to reach neighboring communities by extending the broadcast territory.

Authorities: Regulations are enforced by governments or courts. The actual regulating bodies vary country to country.

Consumption: In 1999 the average European TV viewing was 199 minutes a day. There are arguments over the accuracy of numbers and the internet will likely cause a decrease in the number of hours spent at home viewing TV.

Smaller states: Smaller emerging countries model themselves after the larger countries and depend on larger countries for guidance.

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