Dear Policy Network members,
At our meeting at the MeCCSA conference last week I was asked to put up a link to an important report about private equity investment in the German media for those of you who may be interested. As I find that few people know about private equity media ownership, or in fact know what private equity is, and because this is not just of interest to scholars interested in German media, I've tried my best to give you a half-way short but revealing account of private equity, the role it plays in the media sector, and of the German report that came out in May 2008 and my reading of it. My summaries are attached.
The German report, commissioned by the German broadcast regulator, the Direktorenkonferenz der Landesmedienanstalten and carried out by the Hans-Bredow-Institut for media research at the University of Hamburg in cooperation with the Center for Entrepreneurial and Financial Studies of the Technische Universität München and the Instiute for Journalism and Media Studies of the University of Zurich can be downloaded from this website:
In short, whilst quite informative, in my view the report offers a very disappointing economic analysis and as a result is not critical enough. This is true especially when it comes to Germany's (and now international) broadcasting group ProSiebenSAT.1 - a private commercial group, that runs major terrestrial TV channels that, like ITV, have public-service obligations. I am currently working on ProSiebenSAT.1 as a case study and hope to publish something on this of substance later in the year.
May I add that I think the German case of ProSiebenSat.1 is highly instructive for the UK considering current ownership discussions of ITV and Channel 4 and considering that the UK's House of Lords Communications Report on 'The ownership of the News' (2008) failed to pay sufficient attention to the threat of the continuing commercialisation of the media and its impact on quality. While the report expresses a general concern about quality, the report lacks insight in that it focuses nearly exclusively - as has been the case in the past decades - on the concentration in the sector and the worries this may have on plurality and diversity. Even in the section on 'different business approaches' (Ch.3) it does not however address different business models and economic issues. In my view private equity ownership and new ways of financing the media is something we need to look at urgently as it speeds up the whole commercialisation process.
With best wishes,
Dr Andrea Esser
Senior Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies
Programme Convener Television Studies
Programme Convener MA Media & Cultural Studies
School of Arts
London SW15 5PH
Tel 020 8392 3357
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