New publication: media subsidies and the welfare state

My new research article “A welfare perspective on Nordic media subsidies” has just been published in the Journal of Media Business Studies as part of a special issue about media policy that is edited by Mart Ots and Arne H. Krumsvik.

The article builds upon my invited presentation at The European Symposium on Media Policy 2015. It argues that media subsidies can fruitfully be understood as a part of the welfare framework of the Nordic countries, the so-called Social-Democratic welfare regime (to use Esping-Andersen‘s terminology). This type of welfare state is characterized by a number of policy objectives that correspond with the justifications usually attributed to media subsidies. More specifically, media subsidies constitute a market-corrective measure that is alike the market intervention that the welfare state conducts.

The article is not a normative one that argues whether media subsidies are inherently “good” or “bad”. However, it aims at qualifying the current discussion about the state’s role in the media market in the Nordic countries, emphasizing that media subsidies are not neutral policy instruments, but rather ones that influence the configuration of the media market. What to do with media subsidies in the future is a political decision – but it is a decision that needs to be taken with open eyes and on a well-informed basis.

Anyway, here’s the abstract:

Subsidies constitute a prominent media-policy instrument, serving to correct media-market failures. However, because they interfere in the market, and because the commercial media market is under structural pressure in the digital age, there is much debate about the role of media subsidies. Within this context, this article revisits the foundation of media subsidies in certain developed democracies, aiming at qualifying the current discussions. Focusing on the Nordic countries, the article explores the connection between the social-democratic welfare-state regime and the extensive public frameworks for media subsidies found in this region. The article argues that even though continuity rather than disruption characterises the systems of direct and indirect subsidies, the current developments point towards a recalibration of the ways the Nordic countries subsidise media in the future.

The article is the first step in a series of works concerning media policy in transition in the digital age. So, more will come over the next couple of years.

The article is published behind a paywall; let me know if you have trouble accessing it.