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MDSA02H3 (54)
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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Thorough Notes

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Media Studies
Ted Petit

2. MarxistAnalysis Marxism – is both a theory and a social and political movement rooted in the idea that “society is a history of class struggles” • Originators: Marx and Engels • The mode of production in society (or underlying economic structure) determines the social relations of production (or class structure) • This theory understands and makes sense of the world through the perspective of historical materialism Historical materialism • Marx is a believed that the material world (i.e. natural phenomena and processes) precedes human thought: that the external, concrete, material conditions of social existence determine or ground consciousness ◦ This makes him a materialist as opposed to idealist: a philosophy positing that ideas determine social existence • He also believed that the material conditions of societies change over time, and thus must be viewed in historical context Base/superstructure • superstructure: institutions such as culture (art and media), religion, education, politics, and the judicial system • base: material conditions of society • Marxism holds that social consciousness, as encoded in superstructure, reflects or mirrors the base ◦ (social) superstructure (economic) base • For Marx, the superstructure and the social institutions that comprise it operate in the realm of ideas or ideology ◦ Thus, to understand the ruling ideas (dominant ideology) in society, one needs to attend to the material mode of production in society ◦ The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, also controls the means of mental production ▪ The class which is the ruling material force is at the same time its ruling intellectual force • Contemporary beliefs hold that the relationship between superstructure (ideology of society) and base (material conditions) is bidirectional Patterns of media ownership • Like all economic systems, Capitalism changes over time. ◦ Ex: the information-based service economy of the 21 century is substantially different than the industrial-based manufacturing economy of the 19 - 20 centuries. ◦ This makes it important to consider how the media industry is organized and controlled today • 4 current patterns of media ownership: (1) Concentration, (2) Conglomeration, (3) Integration, and (4) Multinationalism Concentration • Ownership and control of an entire industry, such as the mass media, is dominated by just a few companies (oligopoly)...(monopoly is when one company dominates an entire industry) • Oligopolies reduce competition by making it impossible for small, independent, or start-up companies to survive in the marketplace ◦ Big companies typically buy the small companies or drive them out of business • In a highly concentrated industry (ex: mass media), the few remaining companies function more like partners or a cartel than competitors • 5 companies (The Big Five) dominate mass media market: Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, News Corporation, and Bertelsmann ◦ Time Warner alone is comprised of 7 different divisions, each of which owns dozens of brands and companies Conglomeration • The corporate practice of accumulating multiple, though not necessarily media, companies and business through startups, mergers, buyouts, and takeovers ◦ Concentration describes the media industry's increasing consolidation into the hands of fewer and fewer corporations. ◦ Conglomeration describes the particular structure of the corporations themselves • We refer to the Big Five as conglomerates even though the majority of their holdings are restricted to media ◦ Ex: Disney company acquiring PixarAnimation Studios Integration – vertical & horizontal • An ownership pattern in which the subsidiary companies or branches within a corporation are strategically interrelated • Vertical Integration: a corporation that owns and controls various aspects of production and distribution within a single media industry ◦ Increases profits associated with a media product by allowing the “parent” company to oversee all stages ◦ Ex:Amedia conglomerate that owns record copyrights, record labels, sound production companies, and record clubs or stores would possess strong vertical integration in the music industry ◦ Ex: Viacom. Paramount home entertainment markets and distributes The Godfather on DVD, Worldwide Television Distribution negotiates its broadcast on TV, and Famous Music licenses the use of its soundtrack.All of these companies are part of the Paramount Pictures Corp, a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom ◦ Ex: X-files produced by The Fox Broadcasting company. They aired re-runs of the show on many of Fox's other tv/cable networks ?? (hows this vert. Int.) • Horizontal Integration:Acorporation dominates one stage in the production process. Takes one of two forms • Some achieve horizontal integration through ownership of multiple outlets in one medium, which reduces competition. ◦ Ex: News Corporation which owns 35 Fox tv stations, several of which are in the same markets • If a company controlled all or nearly all radio stations, TV stations, or newspapers within a market, then it would have horizontal monopoly • Another form of horizontal integration is cross-media ownership – to own and control companies across the various media industries, but typically at the same level of production, distribution, or exhibition • Horizontal integration can have high financial benefits, namely by enhancing synergy Multinationalism • Acorporate presence in multiple countries, allowing for the production and distribution of media products on a global scale ◦ Ex: Disney theme parks in different countries • These corporations don't simply redistribute prepackaged products developed in one locale to various countries around the globe, but they don't re-invent either. ◦ They partner with national media companies to produce and distribute media that will be successful in that country or region ◦ In some cases, the “foreign” companies owned by these TNCs (transnational corporations, AKAmultinational media conglomerates) are former local or independent media that they have simply bought out Strategies of Profit Maximization • The few multinational conglomerates that dominate the media industry utilize a series of (6) strategies to maximize profits: (1) Cross-development (2)Advertising (3) Spectacle (4) The Logic of Safety (5) Joint Ventures (6) Niche Marketing Cross-development • The involvement of multiple subsidiary companies in the development, production, and distribution of a media brand for the purpose of “exploiting it for all the profit possible” • Also referred to as Synergy. It's made possible because of horizontal integration ◦ Ex: Time Warner owns DC Comics. There are DC comics, the characters appear in films, animated series', collectors' books, online entertainment, licensing and marketing deals, consumer products, graphic novels, video games, etc ◦ Ex: Superman and Batman. Superman starred in films produced/distributed by Warner Bros. Smallville is produced by Warner Bros Television. Batman movie grossed a ton of money, and at the same time Warner Bros Records released both Prince's soundtrack of Batman, and the original score by Danny Elfman • Big budget films can only be made today if they can demonstrate strong cross-promotional potential (appeals to wide audiences, can be marketing to children through toy lines and fast food, etc) ◦ Jurassic Park cost Universal Studios $56 million to produce, so MCA/Universal couldn't take any chances and undertook a $65 licensing and promotional campaign. This involved making deals with over 100 companies from Kellog's to SEGAand Ocean Software to market 1000 products ◦ It did well in theatres and on cassette (distributed by MCA/Universal) and film witnessed international success due to screening of the film's trailer in Japan through Panasonic, a
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