Phenomenon of Media Moguls
Media Moguls are defined as individuals who either own or operate media companies which are huge in size. They largely build up their own media empires, which can include the launch of new media enterprises. They are mostly known to be owners of other non-media enterprises, who buy these media enterprises or take over existing media companies. These are the people who are responsible for the entrepreneurial risks that are to be taken to get profits to the company. There are two types of media moguls. One who is an industrialist or in other cases the son is not given the authority or is the inheritor, as it is always the owner's widow, nephew or any other relative who becomes the legal heir. Each of these media moguls such as Hersant, Murdoch and Berlusconi- have their own styles and differ from each other. These media moguls have an unusual relation towards publicity. They are examples/ paradigm for journalists in past as well as in future as employers. Some of these media moguls are self- publicists but others avoid publicity and very often give interviews or allow photographing themselves. (Tunstall, J; et al. 1991)
They are more prone to public concerns as well as controversies. These media moguls are politically involved. They take favours from these politicians, in return for electoral and agenda setting support. Therefore during elections these media moguls actively participate by supporting their political party through their prestigious newspapers. But if their favours are not granted then they are treated in an unfriendly attitude. All the prestigious Italian dallies were controlled by industrialists such as Berlusconi, which used to be in a financial loss which was then taken over by other media moguls. For example; Axel Springer (Die Welt), Robert Hersant (Le Figaro) and Rupert Murdoch (The Times of London) all by the 1980's controlled the prestigious dallies. (Tunstall, J; et al. 1991)
The media moguldom is the only chief trait to the European media industry but, it is also the most complex one too.
There are many media moguls of each country in and outside Europe. Like from Britain- Maxwell and Murdoch; France- Hersant; Italy- Berlusconi and Germany- Hugenberg. Media lobbying has in recent decades acquired a new dimension as "a European Dimension". (Tunstall, J; et al. 1991) Here I'll try to illustrate precisely the uniqueness/ characteristics of the British and Italian television and even their media moguls. And last but not the least, how it has been influenced socially and politically. I will be outlining the history of television and the role of the government.
Before 1994 none of the European countries' had seen any broadcasting companies turning into a political party and taking powers. (Coleman, J; et al. 1997)Murdoch from Britain: THE MOST COMPLETE MOGUL
Rupert Murdoch had come from Australia to Britain. But later on he again moved from London to New York for two relevant reasons. Firstly, he observed that Australia shares the English language and even other Anglo-American media traditions with US and Canada and then, Britain is the opposite of these two countries. At the age of 22, he inherited a daily newspaper from his father and Sunday newspaper in Adelaide (South Australia). Murdoch along with Thomson exercised moguldom skills in London. He and Thomson's son- Kenneth went to New York and Toronto as it was an appeal in 1980s for the British media moguls to go to the west.
This is how Murdoch had been trying to change his strategies and his location. He is one of those who is an own-and-operate media mogul of a considerable wealth. He went to Australia's finest and exclusive school and even to Oxford University. His empire had been depended on advertisements. In 1958 as an owner of the daily and the Sunday newspaper in Adelaide, Murdoch got success in applying for the franchise of the Channel 9 Television in Adelaide. He then moved to London for four years (1969-1973). In the mean while in 1969, he purchased the first Sunday News of the World and then the Daily Sun. The Daily Sun had been successfully circulated from one million to three million circulations by 1973. By the late 1980's he had then purchased The Times and the Sunday Times in London and had been doing his usual way of firing and shuffling of editors and managers of the newspapers. He sees himself in a role of stepping into a tackle situation of continuing loss but still then he always tends to change the managers including the barons/ industrialists. (Tunstall, J; et al. 1991)
Thus finally Murdoch is considered as a mogul of idiosyncrasy and controversies throughout his career by his high political profile, in all the three places- Britain, US and Australia. During the 1980's, Britain was the policy leader. The systems of BBC and ITV had a very powerful influence in all Western European nations as models that can't be copied. It was during that time when BBC's Channel 4 was completing a decade and "Berlusconi revolution" was occurring in Italy too.Berlusconi from Italy: MR. BROADCASTING
In the very beginning before Berlusconi the groups which came are the Mondadori's, the Rizzoli's and the Rusconi's; who were based in Milan. Then comes; Berlusconi from Italy. He was born in 1936 and known as "Mr. Broadcasting". (Tunstall, J; et al. 1991)
Basically he is known as a small construction tycoon/ a real estate developer. And he was the first person to introduce a new Era of broadcasting in the Europe by launching a commercial television station in Milan and even establishing nationwide networks. Although he was the prime Minister for a very minimal time span but his extraordinary rise motivated gloomy comments. (Coleman, J; et al. 1997)
In Italy, the media moguls are the powerful press groups who are recognized from the families they are founded or controlled by. In fact the term 'mogul' is a rare use in Italy, as they are better known as magnate, baron, king, steam-master and likewise. According to a debate as to who controls the media in Italy, a distinction is always made between pure and impure publishers, although it diminished with time. Berlusconi is known to be of the impure origins at first, but later on was known to be the best media entrepreneur/ Mr. Broadcasting. (Tunstall, J; et al. 1991)
The Italian Supreme Court, in 1976 passed an order stating that the RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana) has no single control on local broadcasting thus, private entrepreneurs are all set free to enter the broadcasting sector. RAI which is a State-owned Italian public broadcasting service; was controlled by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. It is the biggest broadcasting company in the whole of Italy.
Berlusconi, in 1994 had the keenness to represent himself as the "Man of Destiny". This is because he had to decide to 'sacrifice' himself for the sake of stepping into the political arena to save Italy from falling into the arms of the communists. The people who gave him the power in 1994 and in 2001 as well, were same as the main targeted audiences of his television channels- housewives, the less well-educated, the unemployed, the social apathetic, etc... It will not be a surprise to see his emphasis on values inspite of policies and even his come back to the discussion of the Italian society and politics. (McDonnell; et al. 2005)
Berlusconi's main interest was in sports as he believes that in Italy the public relation can be highly developed by sponsoring a football team. He think this is one of the guaranteed was for daily media coverage. Angelli owns Juventus one of the top European teams. Milano was brought by Berlusconi which won the championship league and this proved his point. (Tunstall, J; et al. 1991) Thus he since then became one of Italy's beloved heroes. He similar to other media moguls and financial tycoons or industrialists, wanted to control his daily newspaper. He also keeps a tight personal observance over his own businesses. Thus, he has been considered as one of the most cunning, the most ambitious and the most cynical mogul of the whole lot of Moguls.
In the Culture and Conflicts in Post - War Italy, Chapter 14 (1990); one of Berlusconi's quotes state that- he has a very precise faith that advertising is not of any worth if it does not make bigger sales. He even states that - advertising for most publishers is just a liberty to sell to a client. For such publishers the campaigning results doesn't interest them in any way. He thinks that one can sum up success like: if one has gained bigger sales for their customers.
In the Media Moguls (1991) it states that: Along with the leading publishing groups such as Rizzoli, Mondadori and Rusoni; Silvio Berlusconi went into the field of television in Milan. In 1988 he purchased the Standa supermarket chain. But during the 1989, Berlusconi's total weekly circulation of the Italian magazine was 16%. But in 1980's he became the one and only person in any of the countries except Latin America to get an effective personal control over three national television channels. But he couldn't have achieved this without the political support of his politician friends. One of the political friend's of Berlusconi in 1985 was the then Prime Minister- Bettino Craxi. He was also friends with other Italian Prime Ministers; most of them are the Christian Democrat Giulio Andreotti. These mogul's political connections tend to be with all the leading politicians but not with parties. In 1980s he was a Craxi- ite but not a Socialist. When Murdoch purchased The Sunday Times, The Times and the Today in Britain was also depended on the Thatcher interpretation of vaguely worded monopoly law. The Australian government was also immensely indulged with Murdoch in a wide range of decisions; which lead him to get a US citizenship. This again led Murdoch to control two-thirds of circulation of all the Australian dallies. Thus his candidness and loyalty was towards Thatcher but not for the British Conservatives.
Euro-Media moguls are being considered for their records of profit making. This is why they have a greater importance to the financial and banking industry. In the 1970s and 80s, there was a huge growth in the media industry; as advertisement expenditure increased with the updated technologies like cable, VCR and audio which led to new and improvised markets for the media. Most of the media moguls like Murdoch and Hersant had a keen interest in borrowing from the banks which lead them to avoid issuing of any new shares which reduced their control over their companies. This is how these media moguls become significantly the key figures in the financial world too. But in 1989-91, several prominent media moguls like Rupert Murdoch had to face severe difficulties in their businesses due to heavy bank loans/ debts.
Silvio Berlusconi came out as a Television Mogul in a much superior way. He had achieved a direct control over the whole of the Italian Television viewing of approximately 45 percent. Thus during the 1980s, the Italian media developed within a very distinctive national-political-economy which then led to a distinctive Italian school of media moguls. This shows how Berlusconi knows how and when to play his political cards or connections which get him immense success, not just in Italy but in other countries too. (Cols. L. R; et al. 1990).
To conclude the point, I would say that there are three basic forces in the mass media history. They are politics, technology and trade/ commerce. It is not a easy job to predict how these forces will affect the media in the future. As through the 1980's the media policy was assumed to be in a progressively more central place in the political agenda in the whole of Western European countries and the some particular European countries too. In the 1990s there was a increase in terrestrial television. RAI in Italy confirmed Silvio Berlusconi as the commercial mogul. In Britain (1990) the passage of the Broadcasting Act was confirmed too.
In the 1990's with the introduction of new technologies, it was expected that it will be a New Ear mainly of consolidation. This change will make a great increase in the consumers' access to channels which had already existed from the starting of the decade. It had been estimated in the 1990's that after the year 1991, that there will be a great decline in the public service broadcasting. This will lead to a rise in the commercial forms of broadcasting which will open more opportunities/ scopes for the broadcasting entrepreneurs such as the owners or part-owners of the station, channels as programming suppliers. New media moguls will appear mostly in less populated countries such as, Greece, Portugal etc... Thus, with such high range of forces the national newspaper press in Europe anticipated major changes as in uniqueness which was already present in some countries across Europe. (Tunstall, J; et al. 1991)
- Tunstall, J and Palmer, M (1991). Media Moguls. London: Routledge.
- Coleman, J. A; et al. (1997). Television in Europe. Internet Books: Exeter.
- Cols. L. R; et al. (1990). Culture and Conflicts in Post - War Italy. London: Macmillan.
- Ginsborg, P (2004). Silvio Berlusconi - Television, Power and Patrimony. London: Verso.
- McDonnell, D and Albertazzi, D (2005). Introduction: Enough Vaccine? The Berlusconi Years - Modern Italy. Online version: Routledge.