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Intro to Media Studies

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Giles Dodson

on 14 October 2014

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Transcript of Intro to Media Studies

Introduction to
Critical Media Studies
Is Rupert Murdoch a real-lfe Mr Burns?
Media Institutions and production
Media Institutions
the analysis of media institutions and conditions of production focuses on several key issues - taken together these can be understood as the 'structural relations' that conditions or control media production
Key Issues
Who owns it?
Who controls it?
Political Issues
Who sets the rules?
What values underpin the
industry? Profit, or
public service?
Economic Issues
Where does the money come from and where does it go?
what standards or norms of behaviour are there,what's acceptable, what's not ?
- legal frame work - NZ broadcasting governed lightly by the BSA and the ASA - complaint based
- anti-downloading laws (Copyright Protection Act 2011)
- defamation laws
- 'self-regulation'
the internet?
Do internet companies have a responsibility to show us an accurate or representative view of the world?
What is the relationship between media ownership, power, control and democracy?

(borrowed from Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble, (2011).
Some info passes swiftly through the social network, while some does not.

Its hard to "like" climate change, social inequality, war in Afghanistan.....

Easy to 'like' the socially acceptable; your mates; their lives and activities; fun + recreation etc etc
Important to be aware the 'media mogul' question is only so useful
In NZ media ownership concentrated, yet owners are responsible to networks of (corporate owners) - investment funds; banks etc - who's primary goal is a return on investment.

how do we find out about it? what is said about it?
The Kim Dotcom (love) Affair
The case of Kim Dotcom vs John Banks, the NZ authorities, the FBI, Hollywood and the media (anyone else you can think of....) provides us with a fascinating case study, although no clear answers or conclusions

Illuminates many of these dimensions of 'media analysis' (without being weighed down by boring theoretical issues - that's for next semester!)

Also illustrates for us the contradictory and ambivalent nature of the media, technology, politics, the economy and journalism....
Ownership and control (vs freedom)
On one hand Kim Dotcom as 'internet milli0naire'; 'world's largest tech entrepreneur' - a new media mogul, characteristic of the internet-age

More interesting than Zuckerberg or the Google people...

On the other hand accused of large scale copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering (organised crime)

Resulting from the operations of Megaupload.com an massively successful 'cloud' file storage site.
On the other hand...
Dotcom's accusers - the FBI (United States government); the Motion Picture Association of America; copyright holders and owners
- Hollywood studios - Walt Disney; Paramount; Sony; 20th Century Fox; Universal; Warner Bros
- The NZ government and its agencies - Police; GCSB

Extremely powerful political, legal and judicial authorities.....
The issues
Rights holders seek to protect their economic right to make money out of their property (return on investment) - record companies; movie producers; game publishers - 'owners' of intellectual property

Not necessarily the 'artist' who 'creates' the work

Governments seek to assist rights holders in these aims - even introducing new laws to do so - NZ Copyright Protection Act 2011 (Anti-Downloading Law)

State agencies empowered to pursue and protect the interests of right-holders - the police/FBI and spy agency GCSB - very serious state power in service of private interests. Or is it public interest?

For Dotcom the issue is one of both literal freedom - to avoid extradition to the US - by extension an issue for all NZers? And internet freedom:

Dotcom is a highly visible representative of an international 'anti-copyright' movement, who seek alternative conceptions of 'property' in the digital age

(however 'alternative conceptions of 'property' have also made Dotcom VERY RICH!

Epitomised by organisations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the "Creative Commons" licensing approach:
Regulation and economics
A regulatory issue in which the politics of the internet is being played out

State power supporting established regimes of property ownership against a technology that confounds it

And public willingness and interest in using these technologies - less torrent use, more encryption
Who is calling for further controls?

For established musicians and their record companies, filesharing has been a serious challenge - Metallica versus Napster (2000)

But for others - especially unknown artists - sharing their work, through internet platforms and filesharing have been ways to massively expand their audiences and reach - they dont need album deals of record company support

New business models have evolved - eg iTunes; Spotify

New approaches to music selling and distribution - NIN; Radiohead et al

One implication has been that the relationship between album sales and touring revenues has been reversed
The Black Keys, Vector Arena, Nov 2012 - $90
The politics of regulation
- little done to regulate the likes of Google, Facebook etc, beyond 'self-regulation'

- Google NZ paid 165k tax in 2012 (revenues 366 million)

- Pressure to change laws to protect rights holders - Copyright Protection Act 2011 (3 strikes and your internet is turned off

- Govt willingness to 'bend over' in other areas - changing labour laws to allow foreign film workers in NZ

- Broader issue of international trade regimes - international agreements (TPP) in which rights holders seek to cement and protect power and profitability

- On the other hand many groups are fighting for increased internet freedom and less surveillance - for ex. The Electronic Frontier Foundation - lobbying for free, open, non-corporate dominated web/information culture
and the
de-regulation of politics
The Dotcom Affair helps to ilustrate these tensions

- Firstly Kim Dotcom and Mega Upload/Mega are a direct challenge to established norms of intellectual property and copy right law, facilitate by changing technology

- John Banks and the mayoral campaign donations debacle and denial on knowledge of donation from Kim Dotcom - currently in court...AND the activities of both of police and illegal activities state foreign spy agency - GCSB has caused serous government embarassment and ongoing questions of just how much the PM John Key knew about the GCSB activities....

- Govt is changed the law to protect rights holders and to make make previously illegal activity legal!

- The illegal involvement of the GCSB (spys) in the affair places NZ at the hear of international issues over government and corporate suveillance - see Edward Snowden and the NSA leaks
Media norms and media representation

Kim Dotcom as 'folk-hero', not 'criminal mastermind or dodgy foreigner...

Would be quite easy for media to present Dotcom as someone we should be suspicious of - in the same vein as we are of Chinese/foreign investors, Ozzie banks etc

Yet the predominant representation of Kim Dotcom is of 'larger than life', 'flamboyant' etc, rather than as a criminal or a buffoon...

With the launch of the Internet Party, he has come to be seen as a political player himself - how is this possible: MONEY

Dotcom initially seen as legitimate political player due to his wealth and high profile (due to his wealth), rather than compelling political vision for NZ

Kim Dotcom (and his advisers) has shown himself/themselves to be highly skillful media managers - knowledgeable of media needs and routines that comprise news production

A consistent 'authentic' public image; making himself available for high quality interviews; high quality soundbites; adept use of social media; appearances at public events - local meeting in Coatesville, rally in support of TVNZ 7, Flight of the Conchords.....basically easy to access, easy to use...

The media has readily adopted the 'folk-hero' frame, largely supplied to them by Dotcom himself...
In conclusion
We can understand therefore the politics and economics of the media as a contradictory object of analysis

There are no straightforward answers to the questions of how we should organise the media or regulate it - what kinds of rules should we have and in whose interest should/do they operate?

As the issue of internet regulation and the Kim Dotcom case illustrate - maximising freedom can have negative consequences - the growth of enormously powerful and unregulated internet companies and individuals; our use and interaction on the internet being structured in ways we are not aware of (surveillance!); property rights/business models and industries being undermined

Fancy running a bookshop?

One's freedom can be another's disempowerment - Dotcom vs Hollywood; web technologies vs the old music business models.

Can result in innovation and change - as in the case of new business models - Spotify and other streaming services; new cultural approaches to intellectual property - EFF; Creative Commons; Radiohead et al...

Or, in increasing political pressure and intervention - NZ Govt; spying, law changes (anti-downloading....)

The extent to which we are fully informed and aware citizens in this regard - well served by our news media, is of course of central importance.

We should remember, for example, that while the Dotcom Affair has uncovered much about murkey NZ politics - Dotcom is an incredibly wealthy, powerful person also, with many interests at stake, skillful at using the media to his advantage ....

However, it also appears that wealth and high-profile are ultimately perhaps not enough to impact on politics - the contestation of power - as Kim Dotcom's expoerience shows, when establishmed political institutions - including the media and other political parties seek to exclude challengers, change can be extremely difficult to achieve...............
Black Keys, Nov 2012
$90, Vector Arena
El Camino on itunes - $16
CDs in late 1990s - $30
In today's money - $42 - a 60% decrease in the cost of music

Is 'copyright' protection (regulation) just away of protecting a declining (but still powerful) industry?
These issues are rarely standalone - but rather overlap in multiple and interesting ways.....
Several key issues in media political economy can can be usefully examined by looking at current issues both in the media economy and NZ politics

The Kim Dotcom case highlights the tension between 'old' and 'new' media businesses and...

Illustrates the way in which political power is centrally implicated in media and media economic issues...and

Points to the increasingly central role of MONEY in politics...and...

And provides interesting example of the news media/social media's role in shaping public attitudes to Dotcom, or; have the media been 'used' by Dotcom?
- the role of advertising?
NZ media political economy?
(by democracy I mean the freedoms, rights and obligation that we enjoy as citizens - beyond just voting in elections)
Spotify claims to be supporting artists, in an era of a collapsed buisness model (album sales) - $1 billion in royalties since 2009. 'Per stream royalty' :
$0.006 - $0.0084 (Time Mag)
Full transcript