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Concentration and self-censorship in commercial media

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  • Fabrizio Germano
  • Martin Meier

Abstract

Within a simple model of non-localized, Hotelling-type competition among arbitrary numbers of media outlets we characterize quality and content of media under different ownership structures. Assuming advertising-sponsored, profit-maximizing outlets, we show that (i) topics sensitive to advertisers can be underreported (self-censored) by all outlets in the market, (ii) self-censorship increases with the concentration of ownership, (iii) adding outlets, while keeping the number of owners fixed, may even increase self-censorship; the latter result relies on consumers' most preferred outlets being potentially owned by the same media companies. We argue that externalities resulting from self-censorship could be empirically large.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1518.

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Date of creation: Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1518

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Keywords: Media economics; media consolidation; media markets; advertising and commercial media bias JEL Classification Numbers: L13; L82;

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References

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  1. Marco GAMBARO & Riccardo PUGLISI, 2009. "What do ads buy? Daily coverage of listed companies on the Italian press," Departmental Working Papers 2009-36, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  2. Bart J. Bronnenberg & Jean-Pierre H. Dube & Matthew Gentzkow, 2010. "The Evolution of Brand Preferences: Evidence from Consumer Migration," NBER Working Papers 16267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Caroline Elliott, 2001. "A Cointegration Analysis of Advertising and Sales Data," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 417-426, June.
  4. Jonathan Reuter & Eric Zitzewitz, 2005. "Do Ads Influence Editors? Advertising and Bias in the Financial Media," Finance, EconWPA 0501003, EconWPA.
  5. Yongmin Chen & Michael H. Riordan, 2007. "Price and Variety in the Spokes Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 897-921, 07.
  6. Matthew Ellman & Fabrizio Germano, 2009. "What do the Papers Sell? A Model of Advertising and Media Bias," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(537), pages 680-704, 04.
  7. De Smet, Dries & Vanormelingen, Stijn, 2012. "The Advertiser is Mentioned Twice. Media Bias in Belgian Newspapers," Working Papers, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management 2012/05, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management.
  8. Lisa George & Joel Waldfogel, 2003. "Who Affects Whom in Daily Newspaper Markets?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 765-784, August.
  9. A. Blasco & P. Pin & F. Sobbrio, 2011. "Paying Positive to Go Negative: Advertisers' Competition and Media Reports," Working Papers wp772, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
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Cited by:
  1. Rudiger, Jesper, 2013. "Cross-Checking the Media," MPRA Paper 51786, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Larbi Alaoui & Fabrizio Germano, 2012. "Time Scarcity and the Market for News," Working Papers 675, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  3. Francesco Sobbrio, 2012. "A Citizen-Editors Model of News Media," RSCAS Working Papers 2012/61, European University Institute.
  4. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2014. "Special Interests and the Media: Theory and an Application to Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 19807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. A. Blasco & P. Pin & F. Sobbrio, 2011. "Paying Positive to Go Negative: Advertisers' Competition and Media Reports," Working Papers wp772, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  6. A. Blasco & F. Sobbrio, 2011. "Competition and Commercial Media Bias," Working Papers wp767, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  7. Fabrizio Germano, 2008. "On commercial media bias," Economics Working Papers 1133, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 2009.

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