Tuesday, February 23, 2010

European Media Subsidies

by Caroline Waters

Paul Murschetz: State Support for the Daily Press in Europe: A Critical Appraisal: This article warns that there needs to be a change in the current method of providing subsidies in Austria, France, Norway, and Sweden to newspapers when the market conditions are becoming more commercial. Murschetz begins his argument by describing these countries’ choice for more interventionist public policies into press economics (292).

Murschetz then analyzes the two types of subsidies: direct and indirect. Subsides are “cash injections accordance with selection criteria of size measured by circulation, competitive position in defined markets, frequency of publication or disadvantaged financial position on the advertising market” (294). The governments in Norway, Sweden, Austria, and France provide direct selective subsidies to secondary dailies “helping second position newspapers improve their market position, thus reducing the risk of local monopolies” (294). Austria introduced a general subsidy. In other words, it would operate across all newspapers (295). Although direct cash subsidies are provided for national daily newspapers with low advertising, in France, indirect help is more common (295). Forms of direct financial subsidies include “support for cooperation in distribution and printing, government loans on preferential terms and government insertions…grants for press research and education, and grants for press exports” (296). Governments in Norway and Austria “give financial support for training of journalists and research on the press” (297).

On the other hand, indirect subsidies include “tax concessions and discounts on various types of tariffs” and most importantly “telecommunications support to newspapers” (297). Telephone charges and news services subscription fees can be reduced (297). Additionally, the government can lower import duties or advertise in the daily press (298). Austria and France offer tariff reductions for newspapers delivered by national post offices (299).

Next, Murschetz describes the problem newspapers face with a changing, more commercial market. Publishers have to change their selling tactics by taking more cost-cutting measures, “revitalizing circulation through relaunch,” or they are “forced to sell to larger groups” (300). One common trend is for publishers to try and make their newspapers international. However, this can be deemed “unfettered competition” and can make selling newspapers internationally difficult (301). With the decline in advertising and newspaper sales in general, it is difficult for smaller, secondary newspapers to stay in business. Hence, they rely on subsidies as a more stable source of income (302).

Murschetz then discusses the politics of subsidy by breaking it down into two concepts: general subsidies and selective subsidies. General subsidies, like those mentioned about Austria, “go to all newspapers irrespective of their individual needs.” On the other hand, selective subsidies are “made to specific papers to help cover their costs” (303). This can be tricky for governments to choose while still seeming to be impartial to the public. In order to solve this problem, the Nordic choose based on economic criteria (303). The French system does not do this, and has actually “created anomalies, with an inherent bias favoring the already economically better-off newspapers, so harming competition and diversity” (304). The next point Murschetz addresses is the desire to secure a “diverse press landscape” (304). All of the countries discussed rely on government subsidies to achieve press diversity.

Finally, Murschetz establishes the problems of economic concentration and homogenization of editorial viewpoints are manifested through “declining circulation and readership, closures of small newspapers and single ownership of markets” (305). Murschetz thinks that the reason for this is that “too little commercial information on the daily press is available” (305). One possible solution calls for “professional, cost-efficient management, a skilled staff and a much lower salary level for journalists” (306). Murschetz concludes with his own idea that it would be more effective for subsidies to be awarded after operating is calculated instead of beforehand (307).

About the Author: Paul Murschetz is head of the Media Management Department at the Cologne Business School. At the time this article was written, Murschetz was “affiliated to the Departmnet of Language and Media at Glasgow Caledonian University” (291). This article was published in 1998.

Monday, February 22, 2010

North Atlantic Countries

by Caroline Waters

Jamie Reid, for the Sex Pistols, 1977

HALLIN & MANCINI: Definition of North Atlantic / Liberal Countries: The purpose of this chapter is to describe common general traits within the North Atlantic (the United States, Britain, Ireland, and Canada) by comparing and contrasting the four countries. The major themes Hallin and Mancini provide are literalism tied to a commercial mass-circulation press, press freedom, political parallelism, journalistic professionalization, the role of the state in public broadcasting, strong rational-legal authority, moderate and individualized pluralism, and majoritarianism.

Hallin and Mancini argue that, like the Democratic Corporatist countries, the North Atlantic countries also saw a large expansion of literacy due to Protestantism as well as the expansion of the market and of the social classes (199). However, setbacks included Britian’s “fear of the propertied classes that expansion of the press would lead to political rebellion by the poor,” and the “conflicts over the meaning and limits of freedom of the press” in the First Amendment of the United States (201). Nevertheless, with the help of the development of industrial capitalism, the commercial revolution occurred in the 1870s to 1890s (202). This was slowed in Ireland, though, due to its “relative poverty” and “competition from British imports” after Ireland’s Civil War (209). This meant more politicized newspapers remained for a while longer to help form a more democratic system.

The United Kingdom has long issued taxes on knowledge which was one divide over the American colony. The UK continues to tax households with televisions in order to support the BBC.

This promotion was designed by and is named after the "Tea Party" American General Christopher Gadsden who fought against the knowledge taxes.

Commercialization changed the roles of the government as well as business. It freed the newspaper “from dependence on subsidies from politicians and the state” and led to independent journalism (203). It also marginalized everything else, meaning there is less diversity of kinds of newspapers. However, in Ireland, “party papers have continued through the late twentieth century” (205). Hallin and Mancini continue to characterize commercialization of papers by comparing their market structures. In Britain, there is a sharp class distinction between middle to upper-class readers of “quality” papers and the more mass appeal of the tabloids. The United States and Canada have a cross-class readership, and Ireland, although having a tabloid market, is less stratified than the British market (206-7).

Newspaper magnet William Randolph Hearst, 2nd from left

Australian Rupert Murdoch built his experience in British media

“Fact-centered discourse” tends to dominate the written media of North Atlantic countries. However, the political neutrality in newspapers is characterized in the United States, Canada, and Ireland, while “party-press parallelism” prevails in the British press (208). Those tabloids are also “intensely partisan” (211). British quality papers too have “distinct political identities” and with that “political affinities of their readers” (212). This “greater ideological diversity” helps explain the reason political parallelism is higher in the British press (240). However, “all four countries have strong traditions of political neutrality” in terms of broadcasting.

In terms of journalistic professionalization, it tended to develop relatively strongly in the Liberal countries. With the increased educational levels of reporters and the North American shift to objectivity, owners of newspapers tended to turn day-to-day management tasks over to professional journalists (219). This gave journalists more freedom and responsibility. However the idea of objectivity was threatened by the need for journalists to be cautions in what they write so that political tensions won’t disrupt business (221). In comparison to North America, in Britain, specialized professional education developed later, but journalists were more strongly protected by the four national directors “whose sole function was to ensure editorial independence” (223). Formal organizations of journalists are not common in the Liberal countries, except in Quebec, “where virtually all journalists belong to the Syndicat des Journalistes” (224). Similarly, Quebec has a “relatively strong press council” while the United States and Ireland do not have one; Britian recently created the Press Complaints Comission (PCC) in 1991 (224). Limiting journalistic freedom are the “extensive editorial hierarchies” (225). There is a push for the “production of market-friendly news” (227). Thus, there is a link between business and editorial operations.

The commercialization of news and the rise of infotainment can be seen not only in the UK but across Europe. Looking at the winners of Europe's Cannes Lions advertising awards in the print and news category for 2008 show very nostalgic themes for an older newspaper audience.

Volkswagen's "product recall" ad campaign, PON's Automotive Handel - DDB Amsterdam

Vintage cars, Mattel Germany, Matchbox, Ogilvy Frankfurt

James Brown record album, Radio Nova, Paris, Y&R France, Boulogne Billancourt

The role of the state in the Liberal countries tends to be limited by the role of the market and private sector. However, the state plays a central role in broadcasting by setting up its ground rules (230). Public broadcasting in Britain, manifested by the BBC, believes that in order to “serve a pluralistic society, it must be separated from party politics and managed by neutral professionals without party ties” (235). Canada and Ireland modeled their public broadcasting systems after the BBC, but in the United States, public broadcasting is decentralized. There is a “reliance on private donations as well as public funding” (236).

The development of rational-legal authority - bureaucracy - is very important for the Liberal countries. It establishes the ideology that neutral professionalism is considered “both plausible and desirable” (244). Also, it provides politically neutral authoritative sources that help bring about fact-based journalism (244). It also “reduces the tendency for media owners to form partisan alliances” (245). Moderate pluralism triumphs in the Liberal countries, due to their catchall commercial media and neutral professionalism qualities (238). Also, since the Liberal countries tend to be associated with “the accountability of government to individual citizens” as opposed to organized social groups, they are said to be exemplary of individualized pluralism (241). All four are also majoritarian. This means that “rather than proportional representation, all have relatively small numbers of political parties, and each system is dominated by two broad, catchall parties” (242). However, in the United States and Canada this is modified by federalism (242).


The BBC Motto: Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation

The BBC is a classic model of successful “broadcast governance,” meaning government controlled media. It's the world’s oldest and largest broadcaster, founded in radio in 1922.

BBC Worldwide concerns the global exportation of BBC to America, Canada and other places. It is the only government media business with an aggressive global agenda as profits benefit the UK government. BBC World News runs on Virgin Media and several US public stations. BBC Publishing and BBC Records often promote materials related to shows. The DVD’s of Doctor Who have been top sellers.

The BBC was a founding member of the European Broadcast Union, started in the 1950’s

After deregulation in the 1980’s, Independent Television and Channel 4 brought competition in Britain. BBC currently controls BBC 1 (regional) and BBC 2 (national), BBC Sport, BBC Childrens (CBBC and Cbeebis), several radio channels and BBC Online. BBC 3 & 4 are digital broadcast only.

BBC correspondents David Dimbleby and Brian Barron in the early 1980s

BBC journalists are considered civil servants.

There is less of an idea of the political body interfering and more of an idea of responsible journalists who observe the political limits. In the past Thatcher clashed with the BBC and BBC journalists have striked on certain issues. A 2004 review of the BBC called the Hutton report led to several resignations for issues in bias. Read a speech by BBC reporter Richard Sambrook, given at Columbia University entitled:America, Holding onto Objectivity

Because it is a government agency the BBC makes public how spends its budget.

North Central European Countries

by Caroline Waters

In the sixth chapter of Hallin and Mancini’s Comparing Media Systems Hallin and Mancini categorize the northern and central countries of Europe as the democratic corporatist model, and they characterize the elements of this particular model. These countries include Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the low countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands), and the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland) (143). Hallin and Mancini build their argument from three coexistences, or “three sets of media system elements that in other systems do not appear together,” found in North and Central Europe (144).

Most theorists separate Central Europe and Scandinavia in part because of limited cultural understanding however Central Europe and Scandinavia share the transformation of the Protestant Revolution.

The first coexistence combines a high degree of political parallelism with a strong mass-circulation media. The book explains that with the Protestant Reformation came a heavy print culture; this encouraged the spread of literacy, particularly within the middle class (151). Also contributing to the spread of mass-circulation press were “the beginning of industrialization and the growth of market institutions” (149). There was thus an increased need for the spread of information and voicing opinions. The importance of political parallelism can be seen through local patriotism. Citizens had a “high level of civic involvement in local communities” and “wanted to have their own local newspapers” (150). Related to the concept of local patriotism, Hallin and Mancini describe the presence of segmented pluralism in Northern and Central Europe. This was a tendency for there to be a “strong division into political and cultural subcommunities” (151). Secularization weakened the relationship between media and national political systems, but this led to an increase in independent newspapers coming from a more concentrated newspaper market (178-9). Mass-circulation of news in Northern and Central Europe also comes in the form of tabloids. Less sensationalist than the tabloids of Britain, these tabloids are read by more of the middle class and often read in addition to quality papers (159). Yet another contributing factor to the mass-circulation of media is the rise of the omnibus commercial paper. To appeal to readers of other papers, some newspapers would diversify their content (159). Often, the omnibus paper would “become the market leader,” while the weaker paper “strengthened its political affiliation to hold on to its remaining market share” (159). Thus, there is a dual existence of political parallelism and strong mass-circulation media.

German Martin Luther in early 1500’s on the left and French theologian John Calvin in Switzerland in the mid to late 1500’s on the right. The early development of literacy in Northern Europe was a result of the principle that “every person should learn to read and see with their own own eyes what God bids and commands in his Holy Word.” The result was overall higher education in the northern countries. Guttenberg is also a factor here as “Protestants and printers had more in common than Catholics and printers.” The protestants used religious propaganda and debates of reason that created segmented pluralism.

The second coexistence involves the presence of political parallelism and journalistic professionalism. Along with the political parallelism described above, there is also a high level of journalistic professionalism in Northern and Central European countries. With the mass appeal of newspapers, organizations could afford to hire journalists as full-time employees (170). Soon came the custom for a formal education in journalism (174). The first unions of journalists appeared in Scandinavia in 1883, and they are still very influential today (171). There came to be a high level of journalistic autonomy from political interference, but journalists clearly have political orientations. However, there is a general understanding that “political orientations are manifested more in patterns of selection and emphasis in news reporting than in explicit commentary” (183).

The North Central countries are balancing both value and language differences. In Germany for example each party is given equal media representation. After elections, the losing party often supports the winning party.

Germany's Christian Democratic Party

The segmented pluralism of Northern countries resulted in subcultures. Those subcultures may be faith based or language based. Both Switzerland and Belgium have sub-communities under one nation. The press was essential to unite these subcultures.

Switzerland balances 4 official languages

2007 Miss Belgium speaks several languages — French, English and Czech — but it seems that doesn't count for much when she doesn't speak Dutch. At a media event in Antwerp, she failed to answer a question in elementary Dutch and was booed by an audience of 3,000 people.

Finally, the third coexistence Hallin and Mancini describe is that of liberal press freedom and a strong state intervention. The status of the liberal state involvement is brought forth through moderate pluralism. In other words, there are political differences within political cooperation (191). The Dutch system is based on external pluralism, “with separate broadcasting companies representing different social groups; other Democratic Corporatist countries prefer internal pluralism, in which “an attempt is made to represent the different organized voices of the society within a single organization” (166). Strong state intervention is manifested by granting direct state subsidies to some press organizations, bargaining among social interests to expand the welfare state, and by spending relatively large amounts of money on social causes (160-1). Most importantly, however, state intervention is found through its funding of public broadcasting. However, with the allowance of the self regulation of the press, press councils, and the “general attitude that the media are social institutions for which the state has a responsibility, and not purely private businesses,” there is a coexistence (191).

After detailing the three coexistences, Hallin and Mancini provide reasons for the birth of democratic corporatism. These were that there was a weak and divided political right, the existence of independent peasantry due to a lack of a feudal system, and the lesser degree of an urban-rural split (186-7).

The North Central countries rank high in press freedom.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Press Freeedom

by Sara Klausing

Peter J. Humphreys’ Press freedom: the free market and the development of the modern press is a significant source for press freedom has flourished in Europe. Beginning with the invention of the printing press, he traces this expansion from a historical and academic outlook. When European press first began, as Humphreys explains, the state and church were prominent media influencers. Worried about the free flow of information, the entities consequently developed controlled censorship and licensing systems for printed materials.

In the article, press freedom is referred to as the abolition of forced censorship and the permission to oppose the established. In Humphreys’ words, “whether won by revolution or not, press freedom was very much a product of the pre-democratic elites and the rise to social and political power in their stead of the ‘bourgeois’ or liberal capitalist middle classes in the ‘early industrial age’” (Humphreys18). This free press brought with it a heightening sense of social responsibility and introduced a new journalistic class. They were now “dedicated to the supply of objective factual information and were no longer the servants of officialdom that they once were” (35). Humphreys also presents the notion that the press became increasingly powerful in the political realm. Media often found themselves aligned with left or right winged parties and were used to directly influence the ideologies of their audiences.

Humphreys continues by explaining the transformation of media after WWI and WWII. He mentions that industrialization and capitalist ideals post WWI lead to the commercialization of European press. Humphreys attests that “from the start, the press sector was highly dependent upon the rapidly growing commercial giants, whose clear priority was the supply of financial and commercial information” (30). He is essentially saying that overtly political press also declined after WWII as papers became highly dependent on the more successful, commercial revenue.

Press freedom concludes with an analysis of post 1980s “information revolution. In this period, new technologies and satellite transmission heightened, this multiplying the demand for media. As information became increasingly accessible, European agents became extremely competitive on a national and global scale. Humphreys suggests that the transition to an international market resulted in a “key link between media and big businesses in a liberal capitalist international order” (35). Although stronger in northern and weaker in southern Europe, the process of globalization continues to play an imperative role in the modern press.

UNESCO's press freedom initiative

The Mediterranean Countries

by Sara Klausing

HALLIN & MANCINI: The Mediterranean or the Polarized Pluralist Model

Hallin and Mancini tackle The Mediterranean or Polarized Pluralized Model. To begin it is provided that the “Mediterranean” countries include Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain, and France. The last nation, France, is generally considered a borderline case but is included because its media “tends to be dominated by a political sphere” (Hallin and Mancini 90). Hallin and Mancini give us generalizations about the Mediterranean region, such as the political spectrum remained wider and the political differences were sharper than in Northern Europe or North America. The authors present the development of nineteenth-century newspapers in Southern Europe as the expression of ideas, both literary and political, became prominent.

The historic backdrop to media

Mussolini, 2nd from the left

May 1968, Paris

Carnation Revolution, Portugal, 1974

In 1976, Santori first identifies the “polarized pluralist model” as a system “with many political parties, distinct in their ideological orientations, ranging over a wide political spectrum and including ‘antisystem’ parties on the right and left” (130). Essentially, we can infer that a medium in this case is “polar” – either extremely conservative or liberal. In such a multiparty system, the most important aspect of political communication becomes the process of bargaining that occurs between parties and other political influencers.

French media: Polar opposites

La Croix, Catholic, Paris

L’Humanite, Communist, Paris

Hallin and Mancini then introduce the main characteristics of the model, the first of which is a strong relationship between politics and media. They state that France and Italy specifically have the highest levels of state subsidies to the press in Europe. Newspaper circulation, ranging from the extremely conservative and Catholic La Croix to more liberal newspapers such as La Liberation and L’Humanité in France, is a primary example of this characteristic. Italy’s media system is also a strong example as Prime Minister Mussoluni who is an important political leader as well as a media owner/controller. The heavy focus on media and political life is evident in media throughout the Southern European Countries.

In the Polarized Pluralist Model an elitist nature of journalism is apparent. As newspapers typically “valued more highly writers, politicians and intellectuals”, journalism was considered “a secondary occupation, poorly paid and to which one aspired often as a springboard to a career in politics” (110). In fact, the process of journalistic professionalization did not develop as strongly or quickly in the Southern European countries as it did in the North. Hallin and Mancini assert that Mediterranean newspapers have “smaller and more sophisticated readerships” while the level of professionalization, although increased in the past few decades of the twentieth century, remained lower (111).

The Southern Europe journalist is esteemed. Filmmaker Passolini wrote regularly for the newspaper.


From the 1970s and 1980s, the Mediterranean Countries saw a shift toward a more market-orientated press. The most significant element of this system has been the use of media by commercial owners, both private and state linked, to wield influence on the political world. As the media migrated to a capitalist system, the state became a central force in Southern Europe with other social actors.

France Soir & Spain's El Pais


by Sara Klausing

The Effects of Deregulation: Stylianos Papathanassopoulos provides an understanding of the processes and effects of deregulation that occurred in European television systems from 1980 onward. In The Effects of DeregulationPapathanassopoulos takes us from a state-controlled media system in which few public broadcasters acted as media influencers or controllers to a complex and competitive environment. In his estimation, this change was necessary not only in terms of reforming the media itself but also had an extreme impact in terms of political, economic, and social issues throughout Europe.

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

Papathanassopoulos claims that by 2000 the effects of television deregulation were emerging throughout Western Europe as a result of commercial influence. He asserts that the information technology revolution as well as the convergence of communications technologies made an increase in quantitative media possible. As more channels appeared, for example, an increase in both demand for programs and competition occurred. However, Papathanassopoulos concluded that with commercialization the quality of programs offered declined. In his words, “Broadly speaking, a television culture led by market forces tends towards the maximization of profit and the minimization of fincancial risk, resulting in imitation, blandness and the recycling of those genres, themes and approaches regarded as most profitable” (19). As commercialization took place, we can see that the economics of media also changed dramatically. Papathanassopoulos attests that deregulation brought an “enormous increase” in television revenues with a relaxed framework surrounding television advertising, bartering, and sponsorship.

As a type of ripple effect, pressures to deregulate television ultimately led to the development of a global market in television. Papathanassopoulos states that under a deregulated or liberalized regime media companies and conglomerates are able to pursue national and international markets.

Peter J. Humphreys’ article “Press freedom: the free market and development of the modern press” additionally supports this supposition. Humphreys affirms that when television agencies found themselves in competition with international companies, they “rediscovered their own original commercial identity, becoming a key link between media and big business in a liberal capitalist international order” (35). This sort of circularity made it possible to link diverse ideas from different cultural, linguistic, and geographic, or “proximate locations”, as Papathanassopoulos states.

Deregulation is not just the removal or simplification of government rules and regulations, Papathanassopoulos makes it clear that it is much more than that. It is evident that deregulation made it possible for media to be connected on a political, economic, and global scale and will continue to grow as technologies and policies allow it.