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Policy, Ownership, Professionalism, and Technology

It is common knowledge that mass media has a strong influence on the way of thinking and behavior of people. Modern radio and television can provide the audience with any possible information about the country’s development and contribute significantly to people’s education and self-development. Most of people do not even know how much mass media involves and which factors it encompasses. Just like any other sphere of human activities of this kind, mass media comprises a number of companies, each of them fighting for consumers’ attention and each trying to develop itself. Each company is preoccupied with development and growing into monopoly or ownership to possess indisputable rights of supplying the consumers with its products; each company has its own policy and depends on the work of other companies which, in their turn, have their own policies; and finally, each company is working hard to achieve a certain level of professionalism applying at this different technologies and innovations. Numerous factors influence the functioning of mass media. Among these factors are ownership, policy, professionalism, and technology. Thus, ownership leads to domination of one company over the others in the market; policies control the companies and limit their actions in order to create fair competition; professionalism makes it possible to work out certain values characteristic for the company and to supply the consumers with products of high quality; technology helps distribute the products among the consumers. Canadian companies should not ignore such factors as ownership, policy, professionalism, and technology since they strongly influence the interests of Canadian people and keep the country in balance.

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Ownership

To begin with, ownership grants full control over the company or firm and gives a possibility to supply its products to a larger audience. The more successful a company is in attracting a larger audience, the greater revenue or profit it will make. This increased profit also increases an owners’ capital, empowering them to gain ownership of other similar companies and dominate a particular media industry. The history abounds with the examples when monopolies of ownership were of more harm than benefit; especially, it concerned monopolies in media which turned information into financial means, rather than something that stimulated healthy democracy. The Canadian bookstore market is among those which exemplify this negative impact of ownership on monopoly.

In the nineteen- nineties, owner Larry Stevenson was granted private monopoly of two existing bookstore companies. Utilizing his capital and power, he created the “big-box” bookstore chain known today as Chapters. While providing retail space for publishers, as the retailer of as much as sixty to seventy percent of a publisher’s books, Chapters was able to dictate its own terms of payment. This domination of book media led to the threat and demise of Canadian publishing companies. In 2001, the ownership of Stevenson’s Chapters monopoly was bought out and transitioned into Heather Riesman’s possession. Riesman and her husband, a successful businessman, already previously owned the Indigo bookstore chain before inheriting the Chapters chain. This intelligent conglomerate now had concentrated ownership and almost complete domination over book retailing. This inflicted extensive fear in the Canadian Bauru, “The government had allowed such concentration of ownership in book retailing that it was forced to create structural support in the name of a set of rules for this national book chain monopoly” (Lorimer, Gasher, & Skinner, 2008, p. 182). This set of regulations was formed into a policy.

Policy

Policy, as another factor influencing public interests, is important for any company, especially if it is functioning in the sphere of mass media. Policy can be defined as, “the set of rules, laws, and practices that govern the operation of communication sectors” (Lorimer et al, 2008, p. 321). Policies establish a form of control to govern Canadian media sectors and hold firms accountable to the regulations each has outlined. Without the existence and enforcement of these policies, private ownership monopolies would have the flexibility to dismiss aspects of professionalism as well as the interests of Canadians to fulfill their profit agenda. The aim of policy is not necessarily to completely resolve the tension between different companies but to “balance economic opportunity with social, cultural and political goals” (Lorimer et al, 2008, p. 150). Seeking to achieve these goals, a company may resort to restructuring or introducing innovative technologies with the purpose of increasing revenues or offering more benefits to the consumers. Certain organizations dealing with internal policy may exist within a company; for instance, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) deals with issues connected with the use of new technologies; it is aimed at balancing the general internet policy.

Telecommunication policy for telephone and internet plays a significant role in the functioning of the media industry; the main purpose of the telecommunication policy is to promote the use of new technologies and services by introducing new reforms into the existing system. In the telecommunications act telecommunication is defined as, “the emission, transmission, or reception of intelligence by any wire, cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic system, or by any similar technical system” (Lorimer et al, 2008, p. 151); this means that “technical systems” are responsible for delivering information to people who need it for work or other purposes. The policy of this sphere of human activities should be as much consumer-oriented as possible for high quality of connection and transference of information is likely to attract the consumers. The reforms carried out in the telecommunication company help facilitate the work of personnel, attract new consumers, and increase the revenues of the company. Privatization is one of the typical reforms a company may agree to go through. These days numerous communication markets in Canada become privatized; most of private ownership, for example, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company), reconsider reforming to become privatized in order to avoid funding cuts.

Professionalism

Professionalism is one of the most significant factors serving the interests of Canadian people who use the Media as the method of getting information. The Media, just like any supplier of services, is required to adhere to proper values in the production of media content and, therefore, to practise professionalism. Owners must present factual truth and abide by policy regulations in terms of media content, which will promote Canadian ideals.

Professionalism is especially vital for journalists whose task is to supply people with authentic information. Professional journalists will never misinform the population because giving false information may lead to panic or shaping erroneous opinions regarding the events taking place around the globe. Since news is important both socially and politically, the professionalism of journalists is crucial; distorting political issues is fraught with serious consequences and may lead to law suits against the company. What’s more, the broadcasting sector works at two output markets, namely consumer (informing people through magazines, radio, Internet, etc) and advertising (selling spaces to advertisers who reach the consumers by advertisements) markets. At this, consumer market remains a primary market since attracting the audience is the goal of not only broadcasting but advertisers as well. The competition at the primary market is often regarded as unfair since public broadcasters make use of dual funding due to their access to the advertising market as well.

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The media can be both private and public, though it can be stated that media content is mostly public because broadcasters, as a rule, get their licenses through public bodies and are usually under governmental control; moreover, public media deals with communication as a public service whereas private media is interested in getting profits rather than informing population. Therefore, public media greatly depends on government and should display professionalism even more accurately. As far as Canada is concerned, no media industry in this country “is governed exclusively by free-market economics: the industries are organized as a complex mixture of public and private enterprises” (Lorimer et al, 2008, p. 303). This is why the professionalism in the Canadian media is important not only for the public but for private media as well.

Technology

And finally, technology also refers to important factors which influence public interests. It plays a significant role in contemporary Canadian society’s distribution of media. Technology acts as a transformative agent, one that produces both negative and positive consequences for the national public. The increased dissemination of information provided by technology means that there is less control of communicative systems. Technology is especially important here since it allows the information to be disseminated through communicative networks, such as, for instance, the Internet. When discussing the role of technology in media, an issue of technological convergence should be paid special attention to. Technology convergence is “the capacity of a variety of seemingly different technological devices to perform the same task” (Lorimer et al, 2008, p. 323). This kind of convergence may be regarded as a link between communication networks, media content, and information technologies. Technology convergence results in the blending of the markets and makes it possible for the Internet users to access and process necessary information faster and easier. However, despite the fact that Canada used to adapt technologies easily, the country is only at the primary stage of technology convergence. The possibilities are numerous and different companies, including Bell, Telus or Rogers Communications have already started to converge.

Therefore, it can be concluded that such factors as ownership, policy, professionalism, and technology produce a great influence on the interests of Canadian people since they are inevitably connected with media most of people are dependent on. It was discovered that ownership can be both an advantage and disadvantage for Canadian people because, dominating a particular industry, it can guarantee high quality products; at the same time, once having become firmly established at the market, ownerships set prices they wish to, which is not beneficial for the consumers. Policy, in its turn, is an important factor for the consumers since reforms within the company are, as a rule, aimed at changes for the consumers’ benefit. Professionalism also serves public interests because the media is responsible for supplying the public with authentic information. And, eventually, technology by means of convergence makes it possible for the public to easily access and process necessary information. Namely, these four factors are able to keep Canada in balance and ensure proper development of the Canadian media industry.

References

Lorimer, R., Gasher, M., & Skinne, D. (2008). Mass Communication in Canada. Sixth Edition. Canada: Oxford UP.

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