Empirical evidence shows that an important number of media outlets tend to bias information (Groseclose and Milyo, 2005; Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2010; Cagé, Hengel, Hervé and Urvoy, 2022), and that media slant can have large effects on voters’ behaviour and political outcomes (DellaVigna and Kaplan, 2007; Enikolopov, Petrova and Zhuravskaya, 2010; Martin and Yurukoglu, 2017), putting democracy itself at risk. Even so, very little is done to reduce media concentration. 

Why is it so that the regulation of media ownership is so lax? A recurring argument consists in saying that each media company considered individually is only a “dwarf” in the international competition. Hence, international giants such as Netflix, Google or Amazon, are used as a justification for more concentration at the national level. While one should innovate such as to regulate these international giants, nothing is done neither to monitor them nor to ensure pluralism at the national level. 

The need to rethink media regulation: Existing regulations were often introduced at a time where media competition was national and Internet did not exist. With competition stemming from social media and other platforms, the existing approach in terms of “market” is made obsolete. 

Alternative approaches have been proposed, for example in terms of “media power” (Prat, 2018) but their legal transcription is still to be done. Further, the regulation of legacy media could not be considered independently of the one of the international platforms. Using an interdisciplinary approach, with both economists and lawyers, as well as regulatory agencies’ and guilds’ members, this network will think about optimal media concentration regulation for the 21st century and take into account the need for both “internal” and “external” pluralism, while relying on international experiences.  

Further, the issue of media plurality cannot be considered independently of the one of the business models of the media. Indeed, given the cost structure of the media industry, the “market” may only support a few numbers of players, and we need to think both about the funding structure of the media outlets and their legal form. 

Beyond the news media: The importance of “media plurality” is not limited to news media pluralism but should also cover the media industry understood in a broader sense, including the production of documentaries but also of fictions. We indeed observe today not only horizontal but also increasingly vertical concentration. While existing literature mostly focuses on journalists, directors – who produce reportage, documentaries, etc. – also suffer from media capture. 

We think it is important to approach media plurality with a broad perspective given many challenges are identical. While in a number of countries, journalists benefit from specific rights, such regulation might for example be needed for other actors of the media industry. 

Members

Charles Angelucci

Assistant Professor, Finance and Economics Division, Columbia Business School Columbia University; Assistant Professor of Applied Economics

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Emily Bell

Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism; Director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Elda Brogi

Part-Time Professor European University Institute

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Rafael Di Tella

William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration Harvard Business School

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Nicola Fontana

Assistant Professor of Economics Trinity College Dublin

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Gregory Martin

Assistant Professor of Political Economics

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Nicola Mastrorocco

Assistant Professor of Economics Trinity College Dublin; Affiliated

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Eli Noam

Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility Columbia University

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Maria Petrova

Affiliate Professor ICREA Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Alfa-Bank Associate Professor of Economics New Economic School; ICREA Research Professor Pompeu Fabra University

Fellow, Public Economics / RPN Member, Preventing Conflict: Policies for Peace / RPN Member, Populism / Fellow, Political Economy / RPN Member, Media Plurality

Anya Schiffrin

Senior Lecturer in Discipline of International and Public Affairs

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Fiona Scott Morton

Theodore Nierenberg Professor of Economics,Yale University School of Management Yale University

RPN Member, Media Plurality / RPN Member, Competition Policy

Camille Urvoy

Assistant Professor of Economic Policy and Political Economy University of Mannheim

RPN Member, Media Plurality

Tommaso Valletti

Professor of Economics Imperial College London - Business School; Professor of Economics University of Rome Tor Vergata

Luigi Zingales

Research Fellow Centre for Economic Policy Research; Research Fellow Centre for Economic Policy Research; Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance University Of Chicago

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