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Books on:



Mass Media









Mass Media Theory






Elena Vartanova. Mass Media Theory: Current Issues. – Moscow : MediaMir, 2009.





Part I. Theory

Universal access to the new media as a form of public policy

Public service in old and new media

Self-regulation as a form of information security


Part II. Russian Media Model

National infrastructure for the new media in Russia

Media structures: changed and unchanged

Post-soviet media model in Russia: diversity of structures, variety of pressures

De-sovietizing Russian media studies

Empire and communications

Russian media model in post-soviet dynamic

Mass Media in Russia

Russian Broadcasting system

Television in Russia


Part III. Russian Media and Market

Russian media economy: eurasian model

Russian media: market and technology as driving forces of change

Diversity at media markets in transition. Threats to openness

A brief review of the condition of the media market in Russia

Main publications





The progress of the Internet and interactive digital networks has put the problem of access to the new media among crucial problems of the present development. The process of convergence is gradually leading to integration and incorporation of, firstly, various markets (such as media, telecommunications, consumer electronics), secondly, different isolated media technologies (Like radio, television, print media, satellites, telephones) and, thirdly, various content products (text, sound, still and moving images). From this perspective, a traditional question 'access to what’ – to technologies, information resources or communication devices – is no more relevant. Today the problem or access refers to the whole variety of new possibilities because the ability to use new communications and information technologies in practice opens up the way to a new virtual cyberculture, to diversity of content products and services. However, this is accessible not to everybody, but only to those users who are able to use existing technological infrastructures in order to get required content products and communications services.

The nature of access to new information and communication technologies is not purely technological. It is worth stressing that the evolving process of convergence is constantly changing the understanding of access to the media by making it not only technologically, but also more socially and politically dependent. Similar consequences of recent developments in the field of information and communications technologies (ICTs) have become evident in different countries and regions regardless of their level of the technological development and the state of telecommunications infrastructures. In all societies emerging inequalities are strongly felt between information haves and have-nots, and the borderline is laid down precisely on the access to the new media and new information and communications technologies.

For media and communications scholars several perspectives might be of particular significance nowadays. The rise of the new media has emphasized the role of a traditionally important human rights perspective. Such rights as the right to receive and disseminate information, the right to speak publicly and to be heard publicly have to be rethought at political, social and legislative levels. A move towards a new notion of access requires updated visions of several traditional concepts of the media studies. Traditional classifications of communication modes are obviously requiring new definitions which have to imply the increased level of interactivity and independence of users. Along with new patterns of consumption and information behavior there also exist new structures of converging industries and markets. Access to the new media needs to be evaluated within the framework of media policy. It is evident that public access to the new media must be geographically and socially universal technically easy, free or affordable to everybody. A regulatory approach to the new media should be also extended by adding a self-regulation concept.

Among new areas of research the problem of access to new technologies is extremely urgent. Due to its obviously interdisciplinary character it has to be considered from different perspectives, but it is important to stress that the present vision of access to new technologies and new media should take into account previous experiences and concepts of converging media and telecommunications industries.


Old Concepts as the Basis for a New Vision


Traditionally, the idea of the universal access has been independently implemented in two different areas and by two different industries. Universal access to telephone lines and telephone networks which was transformed into the principle of universal service is accepted by the USA and many European countries as a keystone of the telecommunications policy. The term of universal service was implemented into the US telephone policy early in this century. It referred to the interconnection of all users on the basis of a single integrated system. In fact it was aimed to justify and support AT&T attempts to establish a monopoly in the telephone sector. Paradoxically the establishment of the AI&T monopoly has enabled the access by most Americans to affordable basic telephone services. Requirements for the universal service provided by a single national monopoly were radically transformed in the 1930s when telephone markets in the US were opened up to market liberalization and competition. It is worth noting that the universal service concept appeared in the European Union policies also in the context of the liberalization of voice telephony and readjustment of traditional mechanisms to ensure the provision of a minimum set of telephone services to the whole population (Casserly, 1996).

Initially the universal service concept meant promoting users' access by linking competitive and isolated networks. Later requirements of the US universal service policies acquired some additional aspects. As a result, notions of universality (access of all individuals at affordable price), equality (access regardless of the geographic location) and continuity (access to an uninterrupted service of standard quality) of telephony were extended compared to previously existing provisions. In the context of the National Information Infrastructure (Nil) the notion of the universal service has been supplemented by a content dimension. As the 'Agenda for Action' stated, "the major objective in developing the Nil will be to extend the Universal Service concept to the information needs of the American people" (Blanchart, 1996).

The concept of public service broadcasting (PSB) which has come from the traditional media has also provided some important contributions to the idea of universal access. The nature of public service broadcasting has its roots in the West European understanding of television and radio as tools of enlightenment of the general public. On the other hand, the concept implies that the TV is an essential element of the public space and has also been an important forum of public debates in a democratic, civil non-totalitarian and open society. As a consequence the widest possible access of various political and cultural views to TV and radio channels which are operated by PSB companies widely contributes to the openness of societies.

In attempts to define what the major PSB principles are one should address the experience of the BBC, the most well-known and creative model of the public service broadcasting. Among its standards several requirements might be described as the main standing points for the description of the idea of universal access to the media. These are:

• geographic universal accessibility,

• universal appeal in terms of political, social and cultural interests,

• contribution to national identity and community,

• respect of minorities and moral values,

• and, finally, financial accessibility of services (Raboy, 1995). Naturally, these principles cannot be simply transferred from one media sector to another, There are certain limitations which should be taken into account. The principle of universal service in telephony primarily implies technical and/or technological requirements leaving aside content provisions. While the concept of public service television envisages some requirements concerning contents, other principles like direct funding from several public sources instead of numerous private bodies in order to prevent commercial influences and existence of a certain program control seem totally inapplicable in the new media environment. Moreover, the very nature of ICTs comes into contradiction with content restrictions imposed by any external authority except content or service providers themselves. The new information and communications technology market can flourish only as a competitive market with numerous actors, including private companies. Thus, a public service monopoly as a principal organization model of the PSB system and even the whole…"


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