Dynamics of power in the media policymaking process: A critical evaluation of post-Leveson press regulation and the BBC Charter review

Chivers, Tom. 2021. Dynamics of power in the media policymaking process: A critical evaluation of post-Leveson press regulation and the BBC Charter review. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines two crucial media policy decisions made during the 2010s: the 2012-13 reforms of press self-regulation after the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking at News of the World; and the 2015-16 review of the BBC’s Royal Charter and its licence fee funding. These changes in media law and regulation have had a major impact on the UK’s press and broadcasting industries, but these debates also reveal entrenched inequalities of power that shape how media policy decisions are made. Media policymaking is often dominated by a narrow selection of elite interests, while media organisations themselves represent policy debates largely in terms of their own objectives. This poses a critical challenge to the democratic ideals that underpin essential political and media institutions, and calls into question whether our media systems are truly accountable to the public and reflective of their interests.

Based on interviews with 13 policy actors and analysis of over 270 policy documents, this research evaluates the dynamics of power in the post-Leveson and BBC Charter policy debates. Through examining the various decision-making practices, the political tactics actors use to influence these procedures, the ideological contests through which media policy is expressed, and the overlapping roles of media as reporters on and stakeholders in policy debate, this thesis details the specific forms of power at play in media policymaking. Combining analytical models of policymaking with sociological theories on power, this research also explores the role of media power, and argues that a ‘media policy power cascade’ is progressively shrinking the opportunities for non-elite groups to influence media policymaking.

Ultimately this research seeks to expose the routinised imbalances of power that characterised two seminal British media policy debates, and offers a critical perspective for challenging these trends towards more democratic and public goals.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00030328

Keywords:

media policy, media power, policymaking, BBC Charter review, public service broadcasting, Leveson, phone hacking, press regulation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies

Date:

30 April 2021

Item ID:

30328

Date Deposited:

14 Jul 2021 12:57

Last Modified:

14 Jul 2021 12:57

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/30328

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