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Media Ownership Control: To What Extent Is Competition Law And Policy Sufficient to Provide for Diversity and Plurality in the Media?

Hakan Bilir ()
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Hakan Bilir: Rekabet Kurumu

No 508, STPS Working Papers from STPS - Science and Technology Policy Studies Center, Middle East Technical University

Abstract: In modern economies and societies, the availability of information is central to better decision making by citizens and consumers. In most countries, citizens and consumers receive the information they need through the media, including newspapers, television radio, internet and etc. After 1990s, technological and economic developments have evolved the media sector by converging it to telecommunications and IT sectors and by leading to new interactive broadcasting services transmitted by different technologies. These developments also increased mergers and joint ventures both at global level and national level. As well as these developments, the private benefits of media have increased concentration of ownership in these sectors. There are many people who argue that concentration in media markets has a negative effect on diversity and plurality. Because of increasing concentration in media markets in recent years all over the world, many concerns as to whether competition law and policy is sufficient to ensure the diversity and pluralism in media have arisen. Competition rules can address issues of concentration, efficiency and choice and will tend to encourage dispersed ownership and new entry. However, they cannot guarantee any of it. Competition law cannot therefore provide the certainty we need that a significant number of different media voices will continue to be heard, or that prospective new entrants to the market will be able to add their voice. Moreover, it cannot directly address concerns over editorial freedom or community voice. Therefore, if competition law and policy is assessed as a whole in the context of media, it can be stated that it guarantees diversity to some extent. However, because of the objectives and criteria of competition law is an important part of regulation, it is not designed to deliver diversity and plurality in the media. Special media ownership rules exist across the world because the market alone, even regulated by competition law, is not thought to provide the best results for society and for democracy.

Date: 2005-08, Revised 2005-08
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