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Framing media mergers in France and the United States
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing media mergers in France and the United States 14 French political elites’ tendency not to view cultural products as economic commodities 10 suggest that the media debate concerning the media industry would present mergers in political as well as purely financial terms, more so than in the U.S. That being said, the similarities between countries both having a capitalist economy hint that though divergent coverage might be expected, in both cases commercial sources and frames would be dominant. “Comparisons among complex cases can identify the general conditions that affect the quality of policy debates in the news” (Bennett, 1993, 188). This study is an attempt to apply such a comparative to media mergers. The comparative element will include contrasting media merger coverage in France and the United States. This comparison is conducted with the assumption that policy debate coverage is conditioned by a country’s media system – the extent to which it is commercialized; media culture – the degree to which media-state and media-public interest group relations are confrontational; and political system – its position on the parliamentary-presidential continuum 11 (Fetsch, 1998). The two cases that are analyzed are the merger of AOL and Time Warner (AOLTW) and the merger of Vivendi, Canal + and Universal (VU merger). The former merger involved two American media companies, the first an internet service provider, the second, a cable system owner and content producer. AOLTW was a merger that combined ‘traditional’ media assets such as magazines, television stations and music with internet-based assets. 10 The French president said in reaction to a controversial statement made by the CEO of Vivendi Universal, Jean-Marie Messier, that “to consider works of art, cultural goods, to be ordinary merchandise, is a profound mental aberration that nothing could justify” (Le Monde 2, 9.2.02, P.24). 11 The term continuum is mentioned intentionally. While some might argue that there is a sharp distinction between the two system types, it seems that hybrid systems are becoming more prevalent. Thus the Israeli system has been designated as a ‘presilamentary’ system of government.

Authors: Davidson, Roei.
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Framing media mergers in France and the United States
14
French political elites’ tendency not to view cultural products as economic commodities
10
suggest that the media debate concerning the media industry would present mergers in
political as well as purely financial terms, more so than in the U.S. That being said, the
similarities between countries both having a capitalist economy hint that though
divergent coverage might be expected, in both cases commercial sources and frames
would be dominant.
“Comparisons among complex cases can identify the general conditions that affect the
quality of policy debates in the news” (Bennett, 1993, 188). This study is an attempt to
apply such a comparative to media mergers. The comparative element will include
contrasting media merger coverage in France and the United States. This comparison is
conducted with the assumption that policy debate coverage is conditioned by a country’s
media system – the extent to which it is commercialized; media culture – the degree to
which media-state and media-public interest group relations are confrontational; and
political system – its position on the parliamentary-presidential continuum
11
(Fetsch,
1998).
The two cases that are analyzed are the merger of AOL and Time Warner (AOLTW) and
the merger of Vivendi, Canal + and Universal (VU merger). The former merger involved
two American media companies, the first an internet service provider, the second, a cable
system owner and content producer. AOLTW was a merger that combined ‘traditional’
media assets such as magazines, television stations and music with internet-based assets.
10
The French president said in reaction to a controversial statement made by the CEO of Vivendi
Universal, Jean-Marie Messier, that “to consider works of art, cultural goods, to be ordinary merchandise,
is a profound mental aberration that nothing could justify” (Le Monde 2, 9.2.02, P.24).
11
The term continuum is mentioned intentionally. While some might argue that there is a sharp distinction
between the two system types, it seems that hybrid systems are becoming more prevalent. Thus the Israeli
system has been designated as a ‘presilamentary’ system of government.


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