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Publicity & Technology, Vol. 5 - 1998, No. 4

Small Countries and the Legend of the Free Market: Austria in the European Context

, pages: 47-61

Over more than the past decade, there has been a surge of interest in the economic role and potential of the media. Within the context of "Information Society" and other policy initiatives, policymakers as well as investors have placed an increasing stress on the economic role of the media and cultural industries. This paper deals with the de- and reregulation of the mass media sector, and the pros and, in particular, the cons of the market approach. The mass media sector displays typical characteristics of traditional market failure and, at the same time, provides output with strong political relevance. Therefore public policy measures are even more important than in other industries. Historically, state regulation of the media sector (at least in Europe) has been politically and economically broadly accepted. At this time media output was still a "national" good. This paper will show how political and economic changes led to commercialisation and privatisation of the media sector at an international level. This development resulted in Austria in high concentration of power and oligopoly structures. The transformation from state to market regulation did not succeed. Lately, the necessity of "reregulation" is being discussed. The paper addresses the questions of which are the options regulatory reforms have in a sector of strong concentration and globalisation, the reasons for, and the success of regulatory reforms.

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