The Role Of Television Media On Western Liberal Democracies Essay

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This paper will discuss two major impediments to the properly democratic function of broadcast media specific to Western liberal democracies, with a focus on informative as opposed to entertainment media. Firstly, the increasing commercialization and ownership concentration of the mass media and, secondly, the corporate and political dominion over a policy making process that purports to be democratic, transparent, open, accessible, participatory, and vested in the public interest but instead serves to maintain, or, at the very least, refuses to overtly undermine this imbalance. These realities contradict the assumptions about the role of the mass media and nature of the corresponding policy process that underpin all democracies founded on the philosophical shoulders of classic liberalism: that the media, specifically the news media, are free, diverse, ideologically independent and varied, and function as ‘watchdogs’ for citizen interest.

McChesney (1997) describes the first wave of media ownership concentration in the U.S. that occurred before the proliferation of broadcast media, when newspapers were the dominant form of mass communication. Advertising did not drive the production of newspapers because it did not yet exist in the all-consuming form it does today (McChesney, 1997). Newspapers were explicitly partisan and closely tied to political discourse, and one would find dramatically varied perspectives on the same issue from paper to paper, none of which made any…

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