Neoliberalism and the Media

How would a person describe the time in which we live? Typically, this era in human development is referred to as a time of globalization. However, without the communications technology that came about in the 1990s, globalization on this magnitude would have been impossible. The rhetoric, according to author Robert McChesney in his article “Global Media, Neoliberalism, and Imperialism”, is that all people need to do is “sit back, shut up, and shop…”.  McChesney goes on to explain that there exists a superior term to describe the trends we have observed over the past decades and that title is “Neoliberalism”.

Neoliberalism is a set of national and international policies that requires corporate and business domination of all social affairs and little societal opposition. According to McChesney, “Governments are to remain large so as to better serve corporate interests, while minimizing any activities that might undermine the rule of business and the wealthy.”

What the author goes on to describe as the centerpiece of Neoliberal policies is the “…call for commercial media and communication markets to be deregulated.” Before the 1990’s, national media systems were typically domestically owned stations. But today,the global media market is dominated by only 7 multinational corporations: Disney, AOL-Time Warner, Sony, News Corporation, Viacom, Vivendi, and Bertelsmann. What McChesney tries to indicate is that none of these companies existed in their current form fifteen years ago. Furthermore, on several occasions, national media deregulation has preceded more general market deregulations, such as in the case of the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Over the course of my own research, I will track how the media has been used to support specific neoliberal practices, whether through media deregulation leading to broader market deregulation, or through social advocacy of neoliberal policies.

By: Ezra Oyarce (2014)

McChesney, Robert (2001). Global Media, Neoliberalism, and Imperialism.