As I suggested in the previous Media Notes ("Technological Development"), an
understanding of patterns of ownership and control is crucial to our understanding of the
mass media generally. This follows for two main reasons:
Firstly, we need to know who, in any society, is in a position to develop
and exploit media technology (and to what ends).
Secondly, we need to know who selects and controls the information we
receive through various media outlets.
relation to this particular set of Notes, therefore, we are going to develop ideas
relating to questions of ownership and control of the mass media in three main ways:
1. Firstly, leading-on from the outline of technological development, we need to consider
the extent to which ownership (especially, but not exclusively, private ownership) allows
powerful individuals and groups to exploit technological development. That is, to look at
the use of the mass media not simply as a "profit-making" enterprise but also in terms of
its potential use as a means of propagating various political, economic and ideological
2. Secondly, we need to develop the concept of media structure in order to understand
the way in which power over the exploitation of technology is concentrated and
centralized in (mainly) private and public hands on our society.
In the course of this we will also have to consider the extent to which media forms:
a. Respond to - or create - "public demand".
b. Expand or limit an audiences' "freedom of choice".
3. Thirdly, we need to examine the difference between concepts of ownership of the
media and control over (or management of) the day-to-day application of technology.
We can use this idea to examine the process of news production in our society - the
way in which "news" is selected, processed and created on a daily basis - and the
relationship between ownership, control and ideology.
We will also explore the relationship between the media and advertising since, in any
society where ownership of the media is mainly in private hands, we need to understand
the relationship between media ownership, advertising and audience.
We can start the analysis of the significance of ownership and control of the media by
looking at "who owns what" in the British media. In the previous Study Pack, we
touched on the question of media ownership, (albeit in 1982. Specific patterns of
ownership have changed in the following 10 years, although the basic patterns of
ownership have stayed much the same), and we can build on this to look at various
patterns of ownership, the extent of the media holdings of various individuals and
companies (the concept of economic concentration) and, most importantly, the