Pillar 1 – Media ownership and commercial pressures

Dr Vaclav Stetka

The primary goal of the project’s first research area is to analyse the influence of economic factors on the relationship between media and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. In each of the ten countries, we are examining the overall media market structure, the structure of media ownership and their joint impact on media performance and their democratic roles.

The transformation of media systems the region after 1989 was largely driven by a liberal market approach, opening the door to extensive privatisation, commercialisation and globalisation. Many have commented that previous media dependence on state and ideology could well have been replaced by a dependence on market and capital. With the progressive decline of circulation numbers and advertising revenues, the media are under increasing economic pressures. This further undermines their ability to perform their basic democratic functions.

Initial research is mapping the evolution and current characteristics of key media market segments across our ten Central and Eastern European countries. We are focusing on the concentration of ownership and on internationalisation, as measured by the expenditure and investment in the region of foreign/multinational corporations. We are also measuring the development of the advertising industry and the level of state economic intervention in the media market. The second stage will analyse the impact of economic variables on the qualities of media, and will aim to answer the question: ‘What kind of market conditions and ownership structures can best support the growth of quality journalism, and the development of an independent and pluralistic media sector in this part of Europe?’.


Selected articles and presentations:

The Rise of the Tycoons: Economic Crisis and Changing Media Ownership in Central Europe

An article for Visegrad Insight about media ownership relations and the impact of the economic crisis on journalism in Central and Eastern Europe


There and back again? Media freedom and autonomy in Central and Eastern Europe

An article for OpenDemocracy.net elaborating on the current media ownership situation in
Central and Eastern Europe.


From Multinationals to Business Tycoons: Media Ownership and Journalistic Autonomy in Central and Eastern Europe

Comparative study on changing patterns of media ownership in CEE, published in the special issue of 'The International Journal of Press/Politics, 2012'.


Media ownership concentration and regulation of advertisement market in Central and Eastern Europe: The case of the Czech Republic

Presentation at a seminar "Culture of debating, freedom of expression and independent media", Ohrid, Macedonia, 3 April 2012.


De-globalization of Media in Central and Eastern Europe? Implications for Journalistic Autonomy.

Presentation at the international colloquium "Between Adoption and Adaptation: Contemporary Perspectives on Journalism and Media Change in Central and Eastern Europe", the Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, 14 October 2011