Current Issue 13thFebruary 2016 - 19 February 2016, i.e. No. 45

Career in media economics

Dr. Pradeep Nair

Media Economics is a field of study that is gaining considerable growth and development over last two decades. The field involves the application of economic theories, concepts and principles to study the macroeconomic and microeconomic aspects of mass media industry.

Concomitant with the increasing consolidation and concentration across the media industries, media economics emerged as an important area of study for academicians, policymakers, and industry analysts. The study encompasses a variety of methodological approaches involving both qualitative and quantitative methods and statistical analysis to examine various financial, historical and policy-driven data to understand the various dimensions of media economics.

            As far as the theoretical understanding of the subject is concerned, the important areas of study involve microeconomic details of specific media industries and market conditions, macroeconomic examinations of labour and capital markets, the policy and regulatory concerns, and finally a broad understanding of the political economy of media.

Scope and Areas of Work

Now a day’s media industries are heavily dependent on technology for the creation, distribution and exhibition of various forms of media content through various media channels. Therefore, the change in technology affects the economic processes between and within the media industries, which is a great concern to study.

The study of media economics in communication studies is gaining a lot of attention these days because it prepares media practitioners for more complete engagement with the technological changes taking place in media industry, regulatory actions affecting the ownership pattern of media organizations and the advent of new global markets.

Media Economics is a multidisciplinary field of study having a wide scope for the graduates from the fields of Communication, Economics, Commerce, Social Sciences, and Management. The field of media economics offers great scope for young scholars to understand and study the globalization of media contents, the rise and growth of international and national media conglomerates, various accounting practices and regulatory structures different from country to country to combat the challenges created by globalization, to investigate and examine global financial data to have an idea of how media companies compete and operate in global and domestic markets for audience share and advertiser revenues.

Changes in demography and other aspects of society also affect the media industries and ultimately, the media economics. Media content is often created with the desire to reach global audiences, so consumer tastes and preferences are critical in understanding audience needs and wants. Here, communication is a key tool that media economists use to understand social and cultural environment by focusing on each and every aspect of the social and cultural life of a nation, which widely affect all the process of economic developments in the society. The approach is to understand the insatiable appetite of audiences for media-related content and services.

The scope of media economics is tremendous. It offers an excellent opportunity to communication scholars having a background in economics, commerce, management and social sciences along with communication to study how media institutions in transitional societies can best manage the communication activities and tools to facilitate economic modernization.

There is a peculiarly intimate relationship between the economic and communication process. Media economics provides a new approach to understand the shifts in audience composition and makeup which is essentially important for media industry to develop media contents having an appeal to a new cadre of unique and different audiences.

Media economics is a promising field within the broad discipline of social and economic sciences dealing with the relationship between the mass media and commerce.

Today, most media industries function in a dual-product market place. Media organizations produce and supply information and entertainment products that are consumed or demanded by audiences. The dual-product market place is a unique characteristic of the media industries, allowing for separate transactions and potential revenue streams from both audiences and advertisers. Media firms try to strategically position their content so as to maximize potential revenues.

Nature of the Job

Having a Degree or Diploma in Communication/Media Studies along with a broad understanding of economics and commerce can offer you a range of communication activities to work as a link between media and business practices. As a media economist one can work for various media organizations to study how media organizations generate positive cash flow (revenues less expenses, depreciation, taxes, and interest) to increase the value of their market positions.

    One can also find immense scope for studying the processes of branding. Branding is a key concept in media economics. Media economics offers young communication graduates having an understanding of business and commerce to study how media companies use branding as a way to build awareness and identity connected with content products. Most audiences and advertisers recognize brands, and larger media companies have invested billions of rupees to develop and acquire different brands. As a Brand Analyst you can work for media firms to study how brands perform in a heavily competitive market environment.

    As a media economist you can also work as a Cost Analyst to study and design cost-effective strategies for various horizontal and vertical media markets. As a media economics policy maker you also have an opportunity to understand the composition of various media industries and their mergers and acquisitions.

    Media industries depend on talented technical, creative and managerial personnel to function effectively. Personnel represent the greatest single expense for any organization. In the media industries, trade, craft, and technical workers are considered “below-the-line” employees, whereas producers, writers, directors, talent, and management are considered “above-the-line” employees. As a media economist, you can work for media organizations as a Negotiation Expert to suggest the organizations how to invest in the development of personnel skills and how to outsource specialize skills for specific applications.

Where to Study and the Eligibility

    Presently many departments of Communication, Economics, Commerce and Business Studies of Indian Universities are offering Media Economics as one of their optional subjects at Post Graduate level. People trained in Journalism and Mass Communication with a degree in Economics, Commerce, Management or Business studies can find a job assignment in the field of Media Economics.

    Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi, Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad, Symbiosis University, Pune, Asian School of Journalism, Chennai, Central Universities like Hyderabad, Pondicherry, Delhi  have specific papers on media and business studies as a part of their regular master’s, bachelor’s or diploma programes in communication and media management.  Many economics, commerce and business studies departments of central and state universities in India also have papers on media economics as a part of their regular management and business programs.

    These specific papers on media economics offered by these institutions aim at honing skills of media and business students within a research framework which enables them to develop a critical perspective on the global consolidation of media markets and its impact on the business structures, ownership patterns, regulation, technology and social policy implications of media industries with a macroeconomic approach.

    Research programs offered in the field of media economics by Indian universities encourage scholars to study the expansion of media industries and the convergence of various technologies and concepts. The subject also provides a scope for the scholars to study the realities of the media market places and the way media organizations function in a particular market situation. Currently studies are also taking place in the field of policy analysis and regulatory actions and their correlations with the media markets and industries.

The author is a Research Scientist at Anwar Jamal Kidwai – Mass Communication Research Centre (MCRC), Jamia Millia Islamia (A Central University), Jamia Nagar, New Delhi – 110025 E-mail Id:

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