On considering efficient media policies for news production around the globe


Media economists say the government is supposed to intervene into a market only when market failures exist (Picard, 1989; Hoskin, McFayden & Finn, 2004; Albarran, 2010). These failures identified by Hoskin, McFayden and Finn (2004) are the existence of externalities, the insufficiency of public goods, and the abuse of monopoly power. Imagine the news as a product, symptoms that indicate market failures have emerged such as the penetration of fake news through social platforms which is very costly for the public to fend off (an external cost), the introduction of data analytics and advanced news production skills that need more diffusion among the press (an external benefit), the lack of independent, high-qualified news (a public good), and the vigorous consolidation of news distributors (the abuse of monopoly power). The whole news industry is struggling, leading to the insecurity of information sources and the loss of diversity views for the public. As the whole news industry is struggling, it’s time to consider public policies that save the news industry.

 Based on Freedman’s (2008) media policy tool framework, this research project plans to analyze press-related legal documents of several countries, including the United States and Vietnam, in order to figure out which countries made it easy for the press to self-financialize, which countries directly subsidized the press, which countries do nothing, and which countries harmed the business side of the press. The countries chosen are countries that the researcher has experienced with their press-related legal documents.

Regarding the stage of this research project, I finished a full economic analysis of legal documents in Vietnam and found out complicated ways the Vietnamese government subsidize/controlled its 800 news organizations using a set of seven media policy tools (merging scheme, socialization of the press, multiplatform diversification, state subsidies, tax reductions, content regulations and advertising restrictions). Along with informants’ accounts, besides having severe impacts on political content, direct and indirect state subsidies do help the press, both print, broadcast and online, survive vigorous media competition. Thanks to this preliminary study, I got a fair literature review of government intervention into media markets via media policy tools. Also, I developed a multistage process to collect data (legal documents) from governmental agencies in charge of the media, a coding protocol to classify data into 7 groups of media policy tools, and a set of six cost-and-benefit-analysis questions to inspect the efficiency of each media policy tool. The latter was developed based on Hoskin et al. (2004)’s economic analysis questions.