Universität Zürich

IKMZ - Department of Communication and Media Research

Media Change & Innovation Division

Andreasstrasse 15
CH-8050 Zurich
Phone +41 (0)44 635 20 92
Fax +41 (0)44 634 49 34

Measuring media concentration and diversity: New approaches and instruments in Europe and the USA


Just, Natascha

Revised version of paper published in Media, Culture & Society, TTLF Working Paper No. 2, Stanford University

Debates on media concentration and the appropriate way to handle it are not coming to an end. This paper stresses the dual character of media goods, the underlying ideological ideals, and the attendant institutional setting as source of value conflict in communications policy making. It discusses this value conflict and gives examples of where it surfaces and how it is confronted. It is particularly evident in cases of media concentration. Newly introduced communications laws and policies within Europe and the USA aim to reduce (ownership) regulation, promote competition and cope with the challenges posed by convergence. This quest is coupled in part with protections of media pluralism through customdeveloped indices for measuring concentration in media markets and tests for assessing media plurality in merger cases. The paper describes and discusses these new methods and instruments as novel but imperfect attempts by policy makers to respond to the various challenges in communications such as value conflict, convergence, the need for empirical proof, and claims for non-economic ways of assessing media diversity. It concludes by stressing the need to re-emphasize normative claims as essential guiding elements of communications policy making.