COMS 3108 Take-home Exam
Please choose three of the following six questions to answer.
Each of your answers should be formatted and written as a proper academic essay.
You will be evaluated on your ability to develop a strong thesis statement and employ two class readings to support your argument.
You can use the same reading to answer two different questions, but you cannot use the same two readings to answer two separate questions.
Please indicate which questions you are responding to in your essays.
Each answer should be more than 900 words
Question 1: A general trend across many media industries has been an increased amount of corporate concentration, with fewer and fewer companies in control of more and more content. Choose one specific media industry and develop an argument about the consequences of corporate concentration. Your answer should focus on how concentration affects the media product, consumers, labour, industry revenues, or the regulatory environment.
Question 2: In today’s economic environment, there are very few examples left of entities with a public mandate in the media industries. In Canada, the CBC is an example of a public mandate radio and television broadcaster, while SaskTel is one of the few remaining public mandate entities in the telecom sector. Choose one specific media industry and develop an argument about the suitability of public mandates in the digital era. You can use the CBC or SaskTel examples to make an argument about the suitability of existing public mandate entities, or choose another media industry without existing public mandate entities and make a case for how a public mandate entity could operate in that industry.
Question 3: Many media industries have been subject to waves of regulation and deregulation over their histories. The internet has complicated the issue, as it is global in scope and does not necessarily obey national borders. Choose a specific media industry and develop an argument in relation to how the internet has complicated regulation and/or governance of the industry.
Question 4: Due to the ease of media distribution online, consumers have increasingly come to expect media to be free or very low cost. While this is great for consumers, it may be hurting media producers and industries who have seen revenues drop. Choose one media industry and identify an example of the problem of consumers expecting cheap or free content and how it is complicating how media producers are compensated. Next, propose a consumer-friendly solution to this problem and argue for why it would be beneficial to both media consumers and producers in comparison to the status quo.
Question 5: In the social economy, content is produced by users rather than by the owners of a website such as Facebook or Instagram. Most people welcome the ability to freely use these content-sharing platforms to keep in touch with their friends, share pictures, or even write content for others as on the Wikia websites. Given that the companies that own these content-sharing platforms make vast sums of money, are the user-producers being exploited by producing content without pay? Choose a specific example of a website where users upload content for others to enjoy, but are not paid to do so, and develop a normative argument. You can focus on the experience of users, the ethics of the situation, the economics, or the overall implications for society of unpaid content production.
Question 6: The shift toward Post-Fordist immaterial labour in the information economy was originally hailed as bringing more flexibility for workers and freeing them from tight control by bosses. At the same time, this shift has resulted in the rise of precarious gig work and the primacy of unstable short-term contracts. Using examples of new working arrangements in the digital economy, develop an evaluative argument about the benefits, problems, and/or possibilities that these new internet-enabled flexible working conditions might have for workers, media producers, or businesses.
The current trend in the economic environment coupled with the advancement in technology as well as the introduction of the internet has led to tremendous changes together with the decline of media entities with a public mandate. According to Armstrong (2016), the adoption of digital media formats have not only led to the transformation of the broadcasting environment in Canada but also in the world at large. The scholar also asserts that the digitization has equally enabled greater personalization of both listening and viewing material in addition to increased mobility. Presently, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and SaskTel remains among the few public mandate radio and television broadcaster and public mandate telecom entities respectively. However, in the digital error, the suitability of this public mandate entities are questionable with the majority of scholars wondering if they are really necessary. For instance, Goff (2011), observes that even though CBC dominated Canadian broadcasting in the 1930s, there are numerous private and public elements which have evolved since then. On the other hand, scholars such as Cormack & Cosgrave (2013), argue that CBC in a unique cultural site in Canada that must continue to exist since it is the only place where Canada gets made and remade. This essay aims at assessing the relevance of the CBC as Canada’s public broadcaster today.
CBC Canada is Canada's publicly owned national broadcaster since its formation in the early 1930s (Cormack & Cosgrave (2013). According to the scholars, the national broadcaster had a special mandate within the federal-nationalist policy of ensuring that it promotes Canada’s national identity. The scholars also assert that CBC Canada has played and continue to play an integral role in not only promoting Canadian Culture but also in ensuring that various communities in Canada including its immigrants co-exist peacefully. Besides, CBC as a public service media has for a considerable length of time been regarded as a formidable agent in regard to public education. This is because it has effectively collaborated with other educational broadcasters such as Tele-Quebec and TV Ontario to offer scientific programming (Tremblay n.d.). According to the scholar, CBC takes on a leadership role in popular education that cannot be undertaken by any private media body. Presently, CBC offers more than 3000 education resources and programs through its website Curio.ca. Besides, the site has been made accessible to the universities, public libraries as well as school boards (Brevini, Benedetta 2013).
However, Winseck (2008), observes that the rapid technological innovation coupled with increased competition in markets has propelled significant structural changes in the media industry such as increased availability of a wide range of media to a great number of people as opposed to the past giving people more options and competitive media content as opposed to the CBC material. Besides, the digital error makes the corporation to find it difficult to operate since it is forced to become more innovative so as to confront digital error (Tremblay n.d.). However, Tremblay also observes that even though CBC thrives to obtain dividends from its Web activities such as viewer subscription fees and advertisement so as to help it meet the rising cost of its operation activities and to compensate the government’s decreased subsidy, revenues from its digital services continue to be extremely low as a result of the stiff competition from private sector. This has been a major challenge that exposes CBC to inadequate and unstable financial resources limiting it from carrying out its public mandate effectively.
Despite the financial challenges coupled with the availability of alternative forms of mass media as a result of digital age, CBC remains relevant to the Canadians. This is because it remains the only platform through which a strong Canadian Identity can be nurtured in addition to promoting social cohesion (Cormack & Cosgrave 2013). This is because, Canada is viewed to be one of the most diverse populations in the world, therefore, and CBC through its programs encourages a tolerant society with varied social and political ideas therefore effectively integrating the new immigrants into the Canadian’s general population. Also, an abundance of other numerous forms of media may facilitate circulation of the large flow of information which may not necessarily translate into content (Dean2009). Similarly, as Cormack & Cosgrave indicates, CBC as a public broadcasting corporation, enables a unique value proposition which is key in promoting Canadian public policy in a way that private broadcasting system may not. Besides, it effectively captures the plight of the aboriginal Canadians which in most instances would go unreported or under-reported.
Other benefits associated with CBC as Canadian’s only public broadcasting corporation entails its ability to enable persons to acquire concepts such as informed citizenry in addition to the acquisition of national identity. This is because of the increased digitization, as well as the introduction of numerous privately owned media, calls for a reliable and a trusted source of original content that is free from both commercial and political intervention.
In summation, it is evident that the new challenges characterizing the digital age are the ones making the CBC as a public service media to be more pertinent due to the unique role it plays. The public, as well as other consumers of its content, must be prepared to so as to innovate and be able to carry out its mandate effectively in a competitive business environment. This is because the unique role that the public service media plays such as educating the public and promoting social cohesion through highlighting various cultural events within the Canadian population cannot be offered effectively by any private firm.
Numerous media industries over time have been subjected to regulation characterized by the authoritative establishment on the quantity, quality as well as the type of information they can distribute within specified social order (Pariser 2011). In other instances deregulations has also been witnessed which entails removal or even reducing the laws imposed on the media industries by the state. However, the introduction of the internet with its borderless phenomenon has posed a major challenge in the regulation and deregulation process. According to Eastin, Daugherty & Burns (2011), the internet has not only changed tremendously the way people communicate but also increased the speed at which information is passed. Besides, the internet has become a key component of traditional forms of media such as radio, television as well as newspapers and magazines. Presently, the internet is viewed as one of the major aspects of digital technologies that rise above geographical boundaries making it extremely difficult for states to exercise their authority on this global media. This essay aims at exploring the difficulties and challenges involved in regulating television (TV) industry.
The dominance of the internet coupled with mobile technologies has made a huge impact on TV industry leading to the rise of three screen TV trend. That is computers, TVs, and the mobile devices. According to Wire’s (2010) report on the global video consumption, many people have increased the number of avenues for watching videos through technological advancements such as HDTVs, DVRs, and smartphones in addition to broadband. Presently, emerging Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) coupled with mobile TV continue to rise in demand. This is because, the shift from the traditional TV to web-based TV does not only lead to an additional channel for re distribution but also facilitates the user generated content (Obrist, Kepplinger, Bernhaupt, & Tscheligi 2008). According to the scholars, IPTV is more than just a television since it incorporates specific aspects that enable both interactive and personalized entertainment while at the same time acting as a communication and information source (Starks 2007). Mobile TV, on the other hand, is similarly a growing form of television. For instance, Canadian based mobile TV, Bell mobility enables its subscribers to access over 225 live and on demand channels through their tablets, smartphones, and computer (bell.ca n.d.).
The popularity of the decentralized and borderless internet coupled with the emergence of three screen TV to a considerable extent is subject to policy making and regulations. However, policy development and regulation often trail behind the fast passed technology. Besides, since I TV programming and other audiovisual contents are now transited through the internet and mobile networks, regulatory issues and policy-making have become near impossible (Lin 2011). According to the scholar, policy makers in various parts of the world have tried to place regulations on IPTV content distribution without success. The author further gives examples of counties such as South Korea decided to delay the operations of IPTV for over one year just contemplating on ways to effectively regulate it. On the other hand, the European Union Commission enacted a directive which was referred to as television without frontiers directive in addition to Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMS). According to the scholar, these directives were to ensure some baseline rules are applied on both on-demand TV services as well as a traditional broadcaster. The regulations were supposed to ensure that the content broadcasted were based on public interests such as the promotion of European productions as well as protecting the minors.
However, the directives received sharp criticisms regarding its practicability with the majority of media house indicating that it is less practicable and its regulatory framework at large seems to disfavor the development and operations of the new TV (Castells 2007). Besides, in other instances, mobile telephony and broadcasting TV are viewed as two different industries (Garcia‐Murillo & MacInnes 2010). According to the scholars, these difference causes different regulatory considerations from one country to another. In other countries, 3G TV only attracts loose content regulation. On the other hand, mobile broadcasting TV is even causing more challenges in regard to its regulation due to its dual nature, for instance, it serves both as a mass audience and as a live mobile programming which can only be viewed from customized and portable devices making it hard to regulate (Garcia‐Murillo & MacInnes 2010). Also, in counties such as Korea, all avenues through which TV programs are offered are all considered to be broadcasting and therefore mobile TV is viewed as an extension of traditional broadcasters and similarly regulated as any traditional broadcasters (Lin 2011)
In summation, it is established that media regulation is a significant practice since it is through it that public interest such as protecting minors can be effectively addressed. However, as a result of multi-screen with numerous platform through which broadcast can occur as a result of technological advancement, TV regulations continue to pose major challenges especially as a result of the introduction of online broadcast platforms such as IPTV and mobile TV. This condition is worsened by the growing video consumption rate worldwide across the three major screens. Besides, considering audiovisual content different based on the platform of which it is consumed also makes the regulatory battle to be even more difficult. Moreover, the fast pace through which technology is growing resulting into the complex nature of three screens forces the regulatory policies to trail behind. However, all is not lost, studies can still be conducted so as to come up with the most effective ways of initiating and implementing policies through which the screens must operate.
Eastin, M. S., Daugherty, T., & Burns, N. M. (2011). Handbook of research on digital media and advertising: User generated content consumption. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Neilsen Wire. (2010). Report: How People Watch – The Global State of Video Consumption. Retrieved from http://enus.nielsen.com/content/nielsen/en_us/report_forms/Global-VideConsumption.html
Obrist, M., Beck, E., Kepplinger, S., Bernhaupt, R., & Tscheligi, M. (2008). Local communities: Back to life (live) through IPTV. Changing Television Environments, 148-157.
Starks, M. (2007). Switching to digital television: UK public policy and the market. Bristol, UK: Intellect.
Lin, T. T. (2011). Convergent and regulatory challenges of three-screen TV in Singapore. Proceedings of the 2011 Pacific Telecommunications Council, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Bell Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2017, from http://www.bell.ca/Bell_TV
Garcia‐Murillo, M., & MacInnes, I. (2010). The impact of technological convergence on the regulation of ICT industries. International Journal on Media Management, 5(1), 57-67.
Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Penguin UK.
Castells, M. (2007). Communication, power, and counter-power in the network society. International journal of communication, 1(1), 29.
In social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, most of the contents including videos are produced by the users rather than the owners of such websites. According to Fuchs (2013), the media users often generate a lot of content while sharing contents between family and friends which generates surplus value to these sites. The website owners then sell such content to third party users who pay a lot of money in return. Besides, the more the website becomes busy with the majority of users logging in the more the website may attract a higher advertising rate and more premium due to its rising popularity (Pariser 2011). However, the users who are also the producers of the contents often end up not paid or compensated in return. This way the content sharing platforms make vast sums of money while the user-producers becomes extremely exploited. Presently there are numerous networks where users upload contents for other users to enjoy without getting any form of payment in return from such networks. This essay aims at assessing the rate at which Facebook exploits its users through free content generation. Besides, the general implications of the lack of payment to the society are equally accessed.
As Fuchs (2013) observes, the majority of media corporations do not pay their users for the content production. In some instances, the user generated data and meta-data may be sold to help the website generate a lot of money. Besides, the more users a website platform has the higher the rate of advertisement it can set placing it at a greater platform for money generation with the users only given free access to the platform. Facebook as a social network was launched in the year 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg together with his roommates while at Harvard University with the intention of linking the students through a network platform. However, presently its membership has widened. According to Motion Heath & Leitch (2015). The Facebook statistics for the year 2013 reveals that the social network has a total of 1.11 billion active monthly users, 665 million persons who visit the site on daily basis in addition to 16 million business pages. What is more, in the same year Facebook recorded that a total of over 4.75 billion contents and items were shared on daily basis? Motion, Heath, & Leitch in their article titled Fake Friends and Powerful Publics observe that users of Facebook on getting free access to the site, they not only share thoughts but also photographs, their locations, religious backgrounds as well as the home background in addition to sharing other personalized information. In return, the website gains access to such information with personal details including what the users like and dislikes together with the user's opinions and preferences.
Once Facebook has obtained personal information about its users as Motion, Heath & Leitch (2015) indicates, the information is then aggregated and sold to the advertisers. The scholars also indicate that every single time the users places a post on their Facebook pages, they give the advertisers an opportunity to customize their message so as to target the users. According to Stelzner (2013), Facebook is presently the most significant social website for marketers with 67 percent of marketers intending to increase their Facebook marketing activities. In the year 2015, Facebook indicated its intentions to make videos uploaded by its users the major source of revenue growth (facebook.com). Presently, when a user wants to watch, a screen with a black background displays with a suggestion that there is a video – a feature referred to as Facebook's straightforward naming convention – which if often followed by a video add. According to Griffith (2015), the advertisements will float between the video which will ensure the company makes billions of dollars per day. Presently, Facebook reports that Videos have taken over traditional chatting with the daily views rising to four billion in just one year which has also enabled it to receive the massive audience. Unfortunately, not a single video creator has been able to receive any form of payment from the platform.
This condition has made the majority of jobless youth and other users who would have made money through the internet as a result of their creativity to continue suffering from poverty (Scholz 2012). However, Dan Rose, who is also the vice president of partnership at Facebook, plans are underway to ensure that videos are monetized and the revenues shared with the video creators just like YouTube. This implies that 55 percent of the revenues collected from the videos are channeled to the creators. This will be a great improvement as Rose observe that the creators will be encouraged to develop more videos so as to reap more in return (Griffith 2015)
In conclusion, it is important for users of Facebook and other social networks to be keen with the information they share online since the social network companies may use them for other purposes that the users never intended to. Besides, it is only noble that any social network such as Facebook should ensure that it recognizes the efforts and creativity of its users by paying them for using their content. This way, the internet will become both a playground and a factory. Besides, societal problems such as joblessness and poverty will be on the decline as many people will thrive to be creative so as to produce only the best content to be shared online.
Fuchs, C. (2013). Social media: A critical introduction. Sage.
Motion, J., Heath, R. L., & Leitch, S. (2015). Social media and public relations: Fake friends and powerful publics. Routledge.
Scholz, T. (Ed.). (2012). Digital labor: The Internet as playground and factory. Routledge.
Stelzner, M. A. (2016) Social media marketing industry report: How marketers are using social media to grow their businesses. SocialMediaExaminer. com.
Griffith, E. (2015, July 07). Finally, video creators can make money on Facebook. Retrieved April 21, 2017, from http://fortune.com/2015/07/01/facebook-video-monetization/
Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Penguin UK.
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Goff, P. M. (2011). Limits to liberalization: Local culture in a global marketplace. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Cormack, P., & Cosgrave, J. F. (2013). Desiring Canada: CBC Contests, Hockey Violence, and Other Stately Pleasures. University of Toronto Press.
Tremblay, G. (n.d.). Public Service Media in the Age of Digital Networks. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/3062/2812
Winseck, D. (2008). The state of media ownership and media markets: competition or concentration and why should we care?. Sociology Compass, 2(1), 34-47.
Brevini, Benedetta. (2013). Public service broadcasting online: A comparative European policy study of PSB 2.0 [e-book]. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.
Dean, J. (2009). Democracy and other neoliberal fantasies: Communicative capitalism and left politics. Duke University Press.