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How Media drives economy?

It is no secret that social media has, and continues, to redefine the global landscape. Social media has often been looked at as a platform for communication and engagement between users, but it is drastically evolving beyond that. As today’s consumer spends up to nine hours per day online, social media has proven to be the most effective way for businesses to reach new audiences on a global scale.


The new media landscape has created tensions between content producers (scholars, computer programmers, and even the general public) and copyright holders (institutional publishers and entertainment corporations) who are increasingly engaged in a form of the culture war over access to and dissemination of information.


This paper explores the emerging culture war as a struggle over definitions of culture and rights. On the one hand, there are those who accept the traditional bargain between creators and society (sharing information, publicity, and reputation) and on the other hand, are those who seek proprietary rights (ownership of material and all accompanying rights).



Further, the battle over the definitions of intellectual property and copyright is taking place in a number of separate areas including the music industry, academic publishing, and the software industry. In each of these areas, the challenge of intellectual property in the digital age is manifested in similar yet distinct ways.


In 2002 in a Journal of Electronic Publishing article[1] I argued that the emergence of a new media economy would have a number of significant impacts on the information and communication industries (Downes 2000).



I suggested that traditional focus on the technological and industrial infrastructure would be replaced with a focus on content and, most optimistically, that the so-called convergence of computer, telecommunication, and entertainment industries might result in an acknowledgment of the importance of audiences.


The new media economy promised a new relationship between institutions and audiences. In the end, it created consumers, not citizens. Today I can say that the failure of the new media economy to fulfill the promises implicit in digital culture is due to the fact that economic and cultural power remains in the hands of those who control access to and the dissemination of information (Burhkart 2005).



The players in the new media economy have consolidated and lobbied for regulatory convergence, particularly with regards to intellectual property. These processes have polarized the communication industries and members of the culture at large (Hunter 2005).


The new media landscape has created tensions between content producers (scholars, computer programmers, and even the general public) and copyright holders (institutional publishers and entertainment corporations) who are increasingly engaged in a form of the culture war over access to and dissemination of information.


The emerging culture war is a struggle over definitions of culture and rights. On the one hand, there are those who accept the traditional bargain between creators and society (sharing information, publicity, and reputation) and on the other hand, are those who seek proprietary rights (ownership of material and all accompanying rights).

New Media Economy: Setting the Scene


Economist Mark Porat (1977) defined the information economy based on a shift in the nature of occupations in the American labor force during the early 1960s from manufacturing to service-industry jobs. Manufacturing had defined the economy because it engaged a plurality of the workforce and produced the preponderance of the gross national product. By 1966 47% of the workforce held jobs in information-related activities that generated about the same percentage of the GNP. A similar claim can be made that as revenues for media shift from national to international markets a new media economy emerges.

For example, Thomas Shatz describes a shift from domestic to international revenues as the dominant market for American movies between the early 1980s and 1995 (Shatz 1997, 83). In 1996 more than 15% of the total value of worldwide mergers and acquisitions (US $1 trillion) was generated by activity in what can be broadly termed information and communication industries.



To gauge the significance of this new industrial structure, consider that the two largest media firms in 1990, Time-Warner and Disney, almost tripled in size during the decade. Merger mania was not limited to the American media in the latter half of the nineties: European media groups took part in 72% of all mergers and acquisitions in the media sector around the world during the first half of 1998 (Gapper 1998).



By the end of the decade it made sense to view the media industries in general as a global commercial media system dominated by a small number of powerful, mostly American transnational media corporations (McChesney 1997; McChesney and Herman 1997).

The technological impetus for convergence was to combine the telephone, the television, and the computer to a common communications connection (Glick 1998). However, the new media economy was the result of an industrial convergence of content and carriage - the direct interplay of production-oriented companies with distribution outlets, technological manufacturers, and other industries involved in entertainment, hospitality, and services (Mansell 1993; Shatz 1997, 84-5).

The AOL/Time-Warner merger of 1999 stands as the watershed event in the transformation of the media industries. Worth an estimated $300 billion (US), it was the largest transaction of all time. AOL joined with what was already the world's largest media corporation.


AOL hoped that Time-Warner would act as its content specialist, providing the type of compelling material that would make users want to use AOL, and Time-Warner saw AOL as its privileged pipeline to new audiences (Krantz 1997; Manes 1997; Egan 1999).





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