Exploring Trends in Global Media Policy

Posted By: Dr Arne Hintz

Young Scholars Conduct “Rapid Response” Research

Global communication policy is transforming rapidly. New actors participate in policy debate and complement (or even push aside) classic intergovernmental diplomacy; the digitisation of the media makes older rules and regulations obsolete; the emergence of citizen media requires new thinking on laws and policy processes; and changes in internet governance happen so frequently that it is difficult even for dedicated experts to keep pace. Meanwhile the ‘older’ questions of media policy, such as how to safeguard media pluralism, are affected by change and are being reconsidered, and classic dimensions of geopolitical power persist.

To understand some of these dynamics a bit better, the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) have offered a small number of “Rapid Response Grants” for young scholars who are working in any of these areas. The grants allow the grantees to conduct a research project and travel to the IAMCR conference in Hyderabad, India, in July 2014 to present their results.

The response to the call last autumn was overwhelming: Over 70 proposals were submitted. Four project proposals were selected, and three further applicants received travel grants for the IAMCR conference.  The grant scheme has been administered by the Cardiff School of Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC), and the research progress is reviewed and accompanied by the IAMCR Global Media Policy Working Group, the IAMCR Communication Policy Task Force, and the IAMCR Emerging Scholars Network.

The grantees are currently finalising their reports, and they have agreed to let us have a glimpse at their projects. In this series they write about their topics and research questions, and address preliminary research results.

In her project “Mapping the WSIS+10 Review Process”, Julia Pohle (doctoral student at the Free University Brussels, Belgium) addresses a major milestone of international communication policy – the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) of 2003/2005 – and analyses the current ongoing review of WSIS results. While WSIS was ground-breaking not just in the themes that it addressed but also in the participation of civil society actors, Pohle finds that the dynamics have changed 10 years later.

Veronique Wavre (doctoral student at University of Exeter, UK) analyses the influence of major powers on a region where significant social and political changes are taking place, in her project “Does the EU’s influence matter? Discussing trends in communication and media policies in Southern Mediterranean countries”. She finds a range of different responses by governments across North Africa and the Middle East to the models (and pressures) from Europe.

Sylvia Blake (doctoral student at Simon Fraser University, Canada) investigates the transformation of, and new challenges to, a classic theme of media policy, in her project “Media diversity in the era of communicative abundance: Mapping Canadian and global policy”.

Preeti Raghunath (doctoral student at University of Hyderabad, India) addresses a relatively new field of policy by analyzing the emergence of community media in South Asia and the emerging policy responses across the region, in her study “Reconstructing histories: Community radio policies and policy-making in South Asia”.

Together, these projects offer an interesting perspective on the variety of different issues which are debated across different fields of communication policy. The reports will be presented at the IAMCR conference in July and will be published afterwards. The grantees are also contributing to the website Mapping Global Media Policy which traces trends in communication governance through an interactive database and visualisation tools.