IS THE PUBLIC INTEREST UNDER THREAT?

MEDIA POLICY RESPONSES TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR RECESSION IN EUROPE

Symposium jointly organised by the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), University of Westminster, and the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA)

Date:  2 October, 2009

Venue: University of Westminster, Regent Str Campus, 309 Regent Str, London W1B 2UW

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THE TOPIC

In virtually every European country, the private media sector is suffering intense economic pressure from the cyclical downturn in advertising and the structural shift of advertising revenue to the web. As a result, corporations are pursuing every avenue to exploit new and existing means of generating revenue, and of maximising the potential of digitalisation. This is having a direct impact on the policy making process at both national and supranational levels as governments and regulatory agencies are coming under increasing pressure to restrict new initiatives in the public sector, to apply the strictest possible criteria to publicly funded media organizations, and to relax overall regulatory oversight of the private sector.

This symposium will seek to bring together scholars and regulators from around Europe to discuss the nature of new policy initiatives being canvassed or implemented, and their repercussions for promoting (or foreclosing) the public interest. Topics of particular interest include, but are not limited to:

·         Means of exploiting the “public” to alleviate pressures on the “private” (partnership deals, sharing proceeds of public funding etc.)

·         Limits on expansion or interpretation of public service broadcaster remits

·         Circumscribing funding opportunities for Public Service Media (PSM)

·         Proposals to change or reduce advertising controls or restrictions

·         Relaxing restrictions on concentration of ownership

·         Proposals to change or relax cross-ownership regimes at local, regional or national levels

·         Initiatives and responses at the EU level

There will be three themed sessions and one plenary session consisting of two keynote speakers. The precise themes will depend on abstracts received, but are provisionally designated as

i.                     relaxation of regulatory regimes and potential consequences

ii.                   pressures on PSBs and regimes of public funding

iii.                  ownership, consolidation and threats to pluralism

The model for this symposium will be short position papers of no more than 10 minutes in length designed to prompt cross-national discussion and debate. Our objective is to promote a better understanding of how governments and regulators within Europe are responding to the inevitable pressure to accommodate the private sector, and perhaps to anticipate some of the consequences. The emphasis will therefore be on discussion and exchange.

Our intention is then to select around 10 papers to be written up for an edited collection arising out of the symposium.

PROGRAMME AND REGISTRATION

The symposium will take place from 9.30 to 5.30 on Friday, October 2nd. There will be three sessions consisting of concurrent panels and one plenary session.

Online registration will open in September 2009.

DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS

Abstracts (between 300 and 500 words) addressing one or more of the above topics, and including a brief set of questions posed by the proposed paper, should be emailed in Word-format to  <Journalism@wmin.ac.uk <mailto:Journalism@wmin.ac.uk> > by Monday July 6th, 2009. Each abstract must include the presenter’s name, affiliation, email and postal address, together with the title of the paper and a brief biographical note on the presenter.

The selection committee will comprise members of CAMRI’s Policy Group and ECREA’s Communication Law & Policy Group.  Applicants will be advised by the end of July 2009 of the outcome of their submissions.

More information will be available in due time on the conference websites:

http://www.wmin.ac.uk/camri

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