Liberalizing the European Media: Politics, Regulation, and the Public Shere

Liberalizing the European Media: Politics, Regulation, and the Public Shere

Liberalizing the European Media: Politics, Regulation, and the Public Shere

Liberalizing the European Media: Politics, Regulation, and the Public Shere

Synopsis

Arguing that the problem of political rights of information and participation in the public sphere is the central question involving the development of the European Union, Liberalizing the European Media offers an assessment of the political, cultural, and economic basis of policies for constructing a European Information Society. The book is a result of extensive research on transformation of European media and politics in the context of integration and constitutional reform. It also places the events in the theoretical context of liberalism and theories of the public sphere. Shalini Venturelli examines five of the principal policy sectors that constitute the core of the `information society' debate: Information infrastructure; intellectual property rights; audiovisual policy, including content and cultural policy, competition law, and freedom of expression rights. The book concludes that the transformation of European media had led to a dimunition of the public sphere with serious consequences for participative democracy in the future.

Excerpt

The idea of the 'information society' has become a generally accepted way of referring to the image of society inscribed in the autonomous processes of technological innovation. The process is thought to possess a force all of its own which sweeps along individuals and societies into an ambiguous future of transformed work, wealth creation, and cultural practice constituted by complex, intelligent multimedia networks. As popular discourse, it may be dismissed as a phenomenon of technical romanticism such as may periodically punctuate the imagination of the modernist age. But it would be a mistake to treat the notion of 'information society' entirely as a mythic form of contemporary cultural experience since it may now have passed beyond the banalities of technological and engineering determinism, to occupy a place at the highest level of political and economic priority in the industrial, economic, and social projects of national policies, transnational directives, multilateral agreements, and international law.

A universally networked broadband, interactive, multimedia information society could be the richest source of creative, diverse, empowering, and democratizing communication ever to connect humanity. It may perhaps evolve into the world's first true 'mass medium' by allowing anyone with a few simple tools to communicate ideas to thousands of persons at once. It inspires a notion of tolerance and promotes the possibility of mutual understanding in the idea of connecting people of all origins around the world. It could serve as a tool of community organizing and citizen involvement.

Yet all of the technological innovation on its own may not guarantee a universal network constituted by the unimpeded flow, exchange, and production of knowledge and information, because the realization of this form of an information society in reality depends less on technological choices than on the political decisions--that is, the economic, social, and cultural decisions of societies and states. On the one hand, it is argued, we cannot return to the comfort of the status quo before the microchip. On the other hand, in the absence of a political will to shape the technological revolution towards the progressive ends envisioned, we may end up with a transformed public space characterized by fracture and segregation, incapable of supporting the structures of civil society and the democratization of participation and interests in the determination of common concerns.

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