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Global Media and Internet Concentration Project



Balbi G.


Lüthi E.


Martini M.



The Global Media Concentration Project will map the transformation of the digital and non digital media industries from 1984 until 2026 in 40 or more countries around the world. It begins with a simple yet profoundly important question: have these industries become more or less concentrated over time? That question, in turn, leads to several others: Are digital media industries more prone to concentration than their non-digital counterparts? Who actually 'owns' the media? Where and why do domestic-based internet services thrive as an alternative to big global players? What are the key media differences between "big" and "small", or "rich" and "poor" countries? Do the large digital platforms have dominant market power? If so, what are the implications for technological innovation, data protection and democracy? The importance of our core question is underscored as observers around the world increasingly cast a critical eye on the economic and political power that Google, Amazon and Facebook have accrued in a short span of time. While the internet-related elements of these debates may be new, the overall concern with media concentration is not. Indeed, such debates continue because the structure of media industries deeply influences who gets to say and do what to whom, on what terms. As such, these debates are inevitably a proxy for larger discussions about democracy. With so much at stake, the need for independent scholarly research on the media---democracy nexus is urgent. Crucially, however, this scrutiny requires an up-to-date and systematic body of evidence to draw on. This project takes as its starting point that media concentration matters but insists that its existence and trends must be empirically established. To address its core question, it brings together nearly 50 of the world's leading researchers from a range of theoretical perspectives and disciplines in a concerted effort to create a holistic analytical approach and comprehensive body of long-term, multi-sectoral data on the media industries. It will cover at least 18 sectors of telecoms, internet and media industries nationally and internationally, including internet access and mobile wireless markets, search engines, advertising, broadcast TV, pay and streaming TV services, radio, newspapers, film, books, video games and so forth. In addition, it will attempt to include all of the core elements of the Online Video industry (eg, Netflix, Apple iTunes, YouTube, Youku); the Internet-of-Things hardware industry; the Big Data software industry; the international submarine fibre optic cable industry; the Data Center industry; and the Content Distribution Networks industry. In other words, this project will examine the ownership and control of the building blocks of the emergent "big data economy" around which critical issues regarding people's fundamental expressive and data and privacy protection rights, the future of democracy, and pressing issues of "data" and "technological sovereignty" now swirl. Our ability to map the evolution of these issues globally will make a fundamental and original contribution to scholarly and public policy knowledge. Ultimately, the project has four goals: (1) map and analyze 30 distinct digital and non-digital media industries in ~40 countries; (2) create new methodological and conceptual tools to understand concentration in the context of the platformization of media and the digital economy; (3) train an international cohort of students in cutting edge, interdisciplinary media industries research; and (4) create a Global Media Industries Database and website in order to deliver the project's data, reports, policy interventions, and scholarly publications to academia, industry, government, civil society and publics across the world

Additional information

Start date
End date
72 Months
Funding sources
Carleton University
Research Contracts