Alan B. Albarran - Handbook of Media Management And Economics (LEA's Media Management and Economics

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Tomaximizetheearningsoftheircontent,mostmediamanagementworkssimultane- ouslywithbundlingandunbundlingstrategiesormixedsystemsofformatconfiguration. As with other aspects already examined, management of content rights (their quantity, quality, range, life span, etc.) is a central issue in developing these strategies because of its capability to set into motion bundling initiatives that are more or less complex and attractive. Managing Quality Configuring media products in highly complex formats as already described, has a direct effect on setting the quality standards of the offer or offers that a company provides. The quality of a media product is often a sum of qualities, many of which are very difficult to assess. As mentioned before, the fact that media products are basically experience goods of an intangible nature and endowed with a strong creative component poses innumerable problems in this area. When managing the quality of media products one must bring several elements to workinaharmoniousway:(a)featuresofobjectivequality(defined,evenifvaguely,bythe professionals themselves); (b) features of subjective quality (based on how satisfactorily specific audience needs and expectations have been met); and (c) so-called social quality (the ability of media products to fulfil cultural, political, and social aims in democratic societies). Integrating these three views of quality in intangible experience or credence goods presents itself as a challenging task, therefore it is not surprising that people’s opinions on quality range from “nobody knows” to “I know it when I see it.” The difficulty of integrating professional quality with financial feasibility and social gain is also at the root of much jostling among designers, managers, and social representatives over these products. In the light of all these difficulties, much of the research conducted on media product quality is mainly from an industrial organization perspective rather than from a man- agement perspective. Some of the outcomes of this perspective are the analysis of how several factors have a bearing on the quality offers, factors such as competitive structure (Waterman, 1989; Zaller, 1999), interrelation within demand because of its dual nature (Dewenter, 2003), market size (Berry & Waldfogel, 2003), degree of resource investment (Lacy, 1992), media ownership models (Coulson, 1994), and even audience diversity in the news media market (Mullainathan & Shleifer, 2003). Simultaneously, and owing to
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190 RECA the importance of the social role the media plays, the concept of quality has been coupled with that of pluralism and diversity of offers in the market. Yet though all these issues are undoubtedly of interest, what we are concerned about from a media product management angle is determining quality measures or parameters thatcanbereasonablyusedtoimprovequality.Aresearcheffortmustguaranteethateach one of the media products is dealt with individually as these products are to be considered on a format basis. In the case of newspapers, this line of research has produced interesting results. To name just two examples, Meyer and Kim (2003) shed light on the ties between
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