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Government Control of the Media

Scott Gehlbach

University of Wisconsin-Madison; Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (CSID)

Konstantin Sonin

Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

April 20, 2014

We present a formal model of government control of the media to illuminate variation in media freedom across countries and over time. Media bias is greater and state ownership of the media more likely when the government has a particular interest in mobilizing citizens to take actions that further some political objective but are not necessarily in citizens' individual best interest; however, the distinction between state and private media is smaller. Large advertising markets reduce media bias in both state and private media but increase the incentive for the government to nationalize private media. Media bias in state and private media markets diverge as governments become more democratic, whereas media bias in democracies and autocracies converge as positive externalities from mobilization increase.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: Political economy, media, nondemocratic politics

JEL Classification: L82, L10, D72

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Date posted: December 15, 2008 ; Last revised: April 21, 2014

Suggested Citation

Gehlbach, Scott and Sonin, Konstantin, Government Control of the Media (April 20, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1315882 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1315882

Contact Information

Scott Gehlbach (Contact Author)
University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )
1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-263-2391 (Phone)
Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (CSID)
Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, RI Moscow 119017
Konstantin Sonin
Higher School of Economics ( email )
20 Myasnitskaya street
Moscow, 119017

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
Feedback to SSRN

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