Monday, February 15, 2010


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 RenĂ© MaltĂȘte, 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.

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