In October, the Institute for International Communication hosted Dr. Marko Milosavljevic who discussed his cutting-edge research on media capture . A group of undergraduate students of International Communication reflected on the theme.
Nowadays, disruption is prominent wherever you go; in technology, political climates, etc. However, nothing is more disruptive in the world than the media. The three topics mentioned (tech, political climates, media) all intertwine in some form to create our information centers. The problem is, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between who is controlling/owning the media centers of a particular country, and why.
Following an enlightening lecture by Dr. Marko Milosavljeic from the University of Ljubljana, I had the pleasure of learning about the phenomenon of “media capture.” Media capture is a theory that states authorities, including those in charge of policy, are so immersed in politics and societal roles, that their perspectives no longer align with the common man. However, because of their societal and political roles, they are still responsible for looking after the interests of citizens.
Throughout the course of the semester, I’ve had the pleasure of researching the unique history and culture of The Netherlands, located in the northwest region of Europe. The media landscape in The Netherlands is just as unique as most everything about the country. Most governments and policy-makers are increasingly involved with the media, and may even own some subsets of it. However, that’s not the case in The Netherlands: their government has withdrawn their “involvement” with controlling media and media content. Instead, there are two groups that facilitate Dutch media: the Commissariaat voor de Media (CvdM), and Autoriteit Consument en Markt (ACM). Both committees are financed by the Dutch government, and work to regulate media in The Netherlands. The CvdM is important in the control of media in The Netherlands, particularly websites, local, regional, and national broadcasters, as well as the licenses for public local broadcasters. On the flip side, the ACM handles the country’s commercial activities regarding the media.
To relate this back to media capture, there is currently a major issue regarding deregulation in Dutch media policy. Within the last year or so, there has been a removal on the limit of market shares a newspaper can issue. The ACM handles these problems on an individual basis, but the choices they make aren’t always in favor of media outlets or Dutch citizens. In the past, ACM has required the sale of publications, and has been known to “force” mergers and budget cuts. These mergers are typically former competitors, such as de Persgroep, a Belgian media & publishing company. Because there are so many mergers within newspaper outlets and TV programming, Dutch television viewers have access to a great range of domestic and foreign channels. Domestically, TV programs are created by groups that “reflect political or religious currents,” (BBC) and are given airtime based on the amount of viewers or members they have.
Due to the digitalization of the media, it is expected that social networking platforms play a role in media capture. As mentioned, the government does not directly control or regulate media content, nor do some access traditional channels of media, such as print or TV. For example, Right-Wing politician Geert Wilders is a frequent user of Twitter, and is rarely interviewed. However, if one would like to know what he’s really thinking, à-la-Donald Trump, citizens are able to scroll through his Twitter archives. Often, his tweets are used in media items by journalists. Although Twitter is a heavy opinion maker in the Dutch media, as it is in other Western countries as of late, newspapers still hold a presence, especially for politicians.
To sum up, media capture is increasingly taking its place within the many media climates of the world. With the help of Dr. Milosavljeic, and many others who are researching this topic, those who consume media on a daily basis are more aware of how and why our policy makers and authoritative figures are participating in media capture, and most importantly, hold them accountable.