Fostering Innovation in Converging Audiovisual Media Services: Do Mergers and Acquisitions Really Help?

Fostering Innovation in Converging Audiovisual Media Services: Do Mergers and Acquisitions Really Help?

Sergio Sparviero (Dublin City University, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-037-2.ch023
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The digitalization of media content and communication processes has been used as the main justification for an important turn in the design of regulations affecting various audiovisual media services and information industries, more in general. A brief case study presented in this chapter will testify that from the 1950s until the 1990s the United States’ regulator facilitated the introduction of fundamental innovations by preventing vertical mergers between different audiovisual media services. On the contrary, nowadays regulators in different parts of the world seems to agree that differentiating between different technological platforms can hinder the emergence of new multimedia services based on technology convergence as well as the establishment of inter-platform competition. Alternative economic principles and the rationale of the old regulatory regime are used here to challenge these mainstream arguments, which justify the raise of the new and ‘converged’ information conglomerates.
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The digitalization of media and communication technologies is radically transforming information industries and the way in which they affect the life of users-citizens. The swarm of changes that has involved digital communication technologies can be divided into four clusters of innovation. The first of these clusters concerns the digitalization of media and relates to the creation, storage, delivery and use of media products and services. Thanks to this cluster of innovations, media content is now de-materialized, separated from its physical form so that it can be manipulated far more easily than analogue forms. Moreover, the data generating content can be compressed in very small spaces and accessed at very high speeds and in non-linear ways (Lister, Dovey, Giddings, Grant, & Kelly, 2003; Flew 2007). The innovations responsible for the digitalization of media (i.e. the improvements in semiconductor technologies) are also at the origin of the much-debated information, communication and media industries’ convergence, as communications and media content can now be routed and delivered using different combinations of tools and networks.

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