The increasing influence of media corporations is a worldwide phenomenon. Media conglomerates are merging companies and are growing immensely by that. Competitors are simply absorbed and the mainstream media appears to be dominated by just a few big players.
Traditionally the UK has a strong public broadcasting sector with the BBC. The British Broadcasting Corporation, originally a private company, was brought under government regulation in 1927. The aim was to promote virtues of impartiality and balanced news reporting.
However, since 1980’s conservative government of Margaret Thatcher, regulations on media ownership were constantly weakened. This led to a domination in newspaper coverage by Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News International’ which managed to acquire 40% of the overall newspaper coverage.
The trend continued when Tony Blair introduced further deregulations. In 2003 the Labour party established the Communications Act which required the organisation ‘Ofcom‘ to review the media ownership rules.
Ofcom states on their website: “The media ownership rules are designed to strike a balance between ensuring a degree of plurality on the one hand and providing freedom to companies to expand, innovate and invest on the other.”
The question is, what influence the media has on us, the audience. First we should remember what a corporation is and the aims it follows. The main aim can be summarized in one magical word: Profit.
Corporations need to be cost effective. Why touching controversial issues if a trivial report generates more income? Corporations also want to be loyal to their shareholders and advertisers. You don’t want to publish a critical report of someone who has an advert right next to the very article.
And of course the newspapers and broadcasters have to be loyal to their owners. The problem is that corporations are likely to follow their own political, perhaps commercially driven interests rather than idealistic, journalistic principles.
Like Rupert Murdoch said already in 1970: ”I did not come all this way not to interfere.”
A good way to find out what’s it all about. The trailer for “The Corporation” documentary.
Watch the whole film here.
Read the related articles:
“We need a rebellion against a press that’s damaging our national psyche” The Guardian, 2007
“Ofcom recommends cross-media ownership rules should be relaxed” The Guardian, 2010
“Review of media ownership” by Ofcom