What is Neo-Liberalism?
This is the belief that a market economy is self-regulating with the added assumption that it embodies freedom.
Free Market Economics
The price of goods are determined by the market. This suggests that consumers have control. With newspapers, this is seen in the wide range of different newspapers that we can choose from.
From the 1980s onwards, shifting government policies encouraged marketisation and increased conglomeration in many industries. This means that while there are many different papers, they are owned by very few individuals which means that the papers are all likely to represent similar views and commercial interests.
Thatcher and the Media
Margaret Thatcher wanted to limit the power that the BBC had and wanted to make it commercially funded.
Friedrich Von Hayek was an advocate of the market economy (and was very influential to Thatcher). Some of the benefits: free markets are considered the most efficient way of allocating resources and of preserving freedom.
Milton Friedman advocated liberal economic theory but also believed in ‘monetarism’ which encourages the role of authorities in maintaining price stability.
Broadcasting Act 1990
It reversed restrictions of ownership of ITV franchises
all ITV franchises had to be put up for sale and to be awarded partly on financial grounds.
BBC and New ITV regional franchises mandated to give 25% of their production to independent producers.
BBC licence fee maintained (despite Thatcher’s desire to replace with advertising)
Controls maintained in cross media ownership although these were weakened with 1996 Broadcasting Act
Deregulation led to further conglomeration in media industries
e.g. Her government helped Rupert Murdoch achieve his current dominance of the national newspaper and commercial television markets.
Her period in office saw increased lobbying by media organisations.
The Thatcher government nodded through Murdoch’s key deals: the takeover of Times Newspapers in 1981 and the merger of Sky with British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) in 1990 to create BskyB
1981 The Times deal was never referred to the competition authorities – It was not referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Thatcher’s secret meetings with Murduch were only disclosed during the Leveson Enquiry
1990 B sky B – also never referred to the regulators
The 1990’s were a turning point in media organisation; by the end of the decade TNC began to dominate the commercial media market.
Robert McChesney: ‘the rise of a global commercial media system as closely linked to the rise of a significantly more integrated ‘neo-liberal’ global capitalist system’. Partly influenced by new technologies and the institutions of global capitalism.
The process of conglomeration is an inevitable part of capitalist economic logic.