Article: Resilience of media in the Baltics

An article referring to been supported by Mediadelcom has been published in the Journal of Baltic Studies. The article aims to analyze the resilience of Baltic media systems in the global network environment.

In this work, resilience has been defined as media systems’ ability to survive despite the efflux of resources and loss of audiences’ attention and trust, and as the capacity to support a reliable, transparent, and diverse information sphere for the functioning of democracy.

The authors claim that resilience of media systems depends on many structural factors and on many different agents operating in the national media markets. The article treats the resilience of Baltic media systems from two angles: (1) changes in the structural conditions of media systems and (2) policy responses to them.

Using media market data from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the changes in the media during the last three decades are under scrutiny. The analysis shows that Baltic media systems are relatively resilient. The situation in national media systems is reasonable due to the strong basis established by decisions made in the 1990s. Public service and private media in these countries both contribute to the pluralism and diversity needed in the public sphere. The public service media respond to audience needs and offer reliable content, at least in the traditional media sector. In the online sector, a new role for PSM and innovation potential needs to be found. Still, there are few resources in Baltic media markets. The competition conditions for national media and global platforms are currently unequal and favor global media.

One of the main sources for resilience in Baltic media systems are their audiences: they still mainly trust and consume domestic content. The audiences in Baltic countries are media literate and able to recognize quality content. Still, the risk that audiences may slip away to the less demanding and mainly entertaining and social-interaction world of social media exists. The risk is related to the lack of resources available for domestic media to produce attractive quality content for different audience groups in the form they prefer.

In terms of media policy, the situation is concerning. The main actors influencing media policy do not take the contemporary challenges of media policy seriously. A coherent view of how to strengthen national media systems is missing. The analysis concludes that the implementation of media policy currently does not guarantee the resilience of small countries’ media systems. Cf. the article here.

The article is authored by Ragne Kõuts-Klemm (EST), Anda Rožukalne (LVA) and Deimantas Jastramskis (LTU).

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