There’s a lot going on in the media world, both in New Zealand and elsewhere. A disturbing trend is the increasing influence of the finance world in the operation of media companies.
I don’t recall this report released late last week getting much coverage but it’s food for thought:
New Zealand media has become a plaything of global finance according to a report on local media ownership by AUT University’s Research Centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy (JMAD).
This report entitled ‘New Zealand Media Ownership Report 2011’, authored by Merja Myllylahti, will be released at the JMAD Conference ‘Political Economy of Communication’ which takes place on Thursday and Friday at AUT.
It says the New Zealand media companies are increasingly dominated by global and pan-regional media corporations and are vulnerable to commercial and shareholder pressures. In response to these pressures New Zealand media companies have continued to economise and started to digitalise, developments which have led to the closure of a 20 year old weekly business paper, job losses for journalists, printers, advertising and distribution workers, and government loans for a conglomerate with major broadcast holdings.
“There are now three major players that own 80% plus of the New Zealand media – APN, Fairfax and MediaWorks,” says JMAD co-director and AUT media studies lecturer Associate Professor Wayne Hope.
“The sphere for public debate is shrinking with fewer voices, fewer journalists and fewer outlets. Every New Zealander relies on mass media for information about the world around them. In a situation where we have concentration of ownership into a few hands and profit becomes more important than public interest, the danger is not only that we get less information overall, we also get less variety of information.”
Perhaps the most disturbing bit in the report that I’ve read so far is this:
What was interesting was banks and private equity firms are having more and more influence within media corporations. Ironbridge, for example, is having a major influence in Mediaworks, and Sky TV and APN have bank holdings in their ownership structure,” said media studies associate professor Wayne Hope.
Three or four years ago media corporations were stand alone firms, so what we call the ‘financialisation’ of media companies is a major trend.”
He said a major implication is the corporate backers are looking for a revenue stream and are not committed to the culture of media organizations, with no inherent interest in journalism or the ethics and principles of the media.
Update: Here’s an interview ninetonoon did with media commentator Gavin Ellis on this report
And here’s a copy of the JMAD report
Question: Did Fairfax and APN (in particular the DomPost and NZ Herald) cover the release of this report? If not, why not?