Government Control of the Media

Journal of Public Economics, vol. 118, pp. 163-171, October 2014.

36 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2008 Last revised: 6 Oct 2014

See all articles by Scott Gehlbach

Scott Gehlbach

University of Chicago

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: April 20, 2014

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Political economy, media, nondemocratic politics

JEL Classification: L82, L10, D72

Suggested Citation

Gehlbach, Scott and Sonin, Konstantin, Government Control of the Media (April 20, 2014). Journal of Public Economics, vol. 118, pp. 163-171, October 2014. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1315882 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1315882

Scott Gehlbach (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Higher School of Economics ( email )

20 Myasnitskaya street
Moscow, 119017
Russia

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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