Government Control of the Media
University of Wisconsin-Madison; Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (CSID)
Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
April 20, 2014
Journal of Public Economics, vol. 118, pp. 163-171, October 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
Date posted: December 15, 2008 ; Last revised: October 6, 2014
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