Frozen media subsidies during a time of media change
A new article on how media subsidies have not been reformed to fit changing media has just been published in the journal Global Media and Communication.
The article, by RISJ Research Fellow Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, shows how though media systems around the world have changed in significant ways in the early 21st century, different forms of direct and indirect media subsidies have not been reformed to fit the new media environment.
This leaves large areas of media policy subject to what political scientists call "policy drift", a process by which the operations and effectiveness of policies change not because of deliberate reform, but because of changing conditions on the ground.
On the basis of interviews, official documents and secondary sources with media executives, media regulators, and media policymakers in Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the US, the article identifies three main obstacles to reform across all six countries.
These three obstacles are
- limited attention to the problem, especially from top politicians;
- strong incumbent industries, both public and private, protecting their own interests; and
- a perceived shortage of politically legitimate, cost-effective, and governable alternatives to existing policies.
The third obstacle in particular underlines the need for further analysis of what options are actually available to policymakers wishing to overcome the problem of the growing distance between the 20th century media reality much media policy was designed for and the reality of 21st century media.