“The Corporate Enclosure of Communications: Contemporary Media and Public life” – Prof Graham Murdock, Prof of Culture and Media, Institute for Media and Creative Industries, Loughborough University.
The last three decades have witnessed an unprecedented concentration of control over public communications in the hands of a diminishing number of mega corporations. Britain has one of the most concentrated newspaper markets in the western world. Television is increasingly controlled by major companies owned offshore.
The public internet is dominated by a handful of virtual monopoly suppliers – Google, Facebook, Amazon – and is increasing also becoming an ‘internet of things’ built around connections between the machines at the centre of everyday life. The first aim of this lecture is to provide a comprehensive survey of these developments.
The second aim is to examine the urgent and far-reaching questions they raise about the transformation of public cultural and political life. What are the consequences of the corporate annexation of media for creative diversity and rational and open discussion? Has the saturation advertising that funds much corporate media replaced the ideal of citizenship with the seductions of individualised consumerism? How much access should state agencies have to the data we generate whenever we go online? Should we have a right to control who sees and uses our personal data?
This final aim is to explore possible alternatives. Do we need new curbs on corporate power? What are the priorities for public subsidy? What role should the BBC play in this emerging communications environment? Can we counter corporate enclosure by creating a new digital commons? How might that be organised?