Audience Constructions, Reputations, and Emerging Media Technologies: New Issues of Legal and Social Policy
Nora A. Draper and Joseph Turow
This chapter traces how changes in media and surveillance technologies have influenced the strategies producers have for constructing audiences. The largely unregulated practices of information gathering that inform the measurement and evaluation of audiences have consequences for how individuals are viewed by media producers and, consequently, for how they view themselves. Recent technological advances have increased the specificity with which advertisers target audiences—moving from the classification of audience groups based on shared characteristics to the personalization of commercial media content for individuals. To assist in the personalization of content, media producers and advertisers use interactive technologies to enlist individuals in the construction of their own consumer reputations. Industry discourse frames the resulting personalization as empowering for individuals who are given a hand in crafting their media universe; however, these strategies are more likely to create further disparity among those who media institutions do and do not view as valuable.
This chapter examines a little known, but vitally important, statutory antitrust exemption for the U.S. professional sports industry: the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 (SBA). Under the SBA, league-wide television agreements between one of the four major U.S. sports leagues and an over-the-air broadcast network are immune from challenge under federal antitrust law. As a result, the SBA has played a significant role in shaping the way in which sports are broadcast in the United States today. At the same time, because sports leagues value the protection afforded by the SBA, the threat of repealing the statute has also intermittently given Congress the leverage needed to challenge various league activities that were viewed as harmful to the public interest. Thus, the SBA continues to play an important role in helping to shape professional-sports-related public policy in the United States today.
Authoritarian regimes regularly rely on murdering journalists, jailing editors, and censoring the media to remain in power and to carry out their objectives. In 2001, thirty-seven journalists were reportedly killed in connection with their work, two-thirds apparently by governments or their supporters who did not like to take the heat of criticism. Ruling elites in market-economy democratic states primarily rely instead on owning or controlling the media or creating conditions in which the media naturally represent the world in a manner congenial to these elites' interests. This article is organized as follows. Section 1 describes debates concerning the normative premises for freedom of the press, premises that reject the censorship required by authoritarian regimes and occasionally imposed by democratic states. Section 2 describes the more pragmatic controversies centring on legal responses to the more indirect democratic threats posed by ruling elites in democratic market societies. Beyond the rejection of overt censorship, it discusses the debates over what legal treatment of the press best supports democracy while appropriately taking account of other societal needs.