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Concentration and self-censorship in commercial media

  • Fabrizio Germano
  • Martin Meier

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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1518
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  1. De Smet, Dries & Vanormelingen, Stijn, 2012. "The Advertiser is Mentioned Twice. Media Bias in Belgian Newspapers," Working Papers 2012/05, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management.
  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. Marco Gambaro and Riccardo Puglisi, 2010. "What Do Ads Buy? Daily Coverage of Listed Companies on the Italian Press," RSCAS Working Papers 2010/26, European University Institute.
  4. repec:clu:wpaper:0405-20 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Caroline Elliott, 2001. "A Cointegration Analysis of Advertising and Sales Data," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 417-426, June.
  6. 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.
  7. Jonathan Reuter & Eric Zitzewitz, 2006. "Do ADS Influence Editors? Advertising and Bias in the Financial Media," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 197-227, 02.
  8. Matthew Ellman & Fabrizio Germano, 2009. "What do the Papers Sell? A Model of Advertising and Media Bias," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(537), pages 680-704, 04.
  9. Lisa George & Joel Waldfogel, 2003. "Who Affects Whom in Daily Newspaper Markets?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 765-784, August.
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