Thursday, July 12, 2012

US and UK Media Trends

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US and UK Media Trends


In this assignment, we have taken a closer look at the trends in the American and British media. We have chosen to focus on Newspapers, Television and The Internet. In our analysis we have compared the dominating media trends in the UK and the US as well as tried to position the countries in a more global perspective.

Firstly, we will study the development and trends of the British and American newspapers. Secondly, our objective is to explain the main differences between the two countries as television is concerned. Lastly, we will try to give some background information and through e-commerce exemplify, Internet’s position in the US and UK.

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The newspaper is still an important medium, but there can be no doubt that its role in the lives of people has been diminished by the growing impact of radio, television and the Internet. The newspaper has been through tough times over the last years. Strong competitions from other medium, especially the Internet, have been a big challenge. Questions like What message does a newspaper medium send to consumers? What consumer messages do the Internet, radio, and television media send? Should we stick to what were good at, publishing newspapers, or must we migrate our focus to multi-media? These are problems British and US newspapers have to deal with nowadays. In the last years, after the 11th of September and the IT-bubble crack, newspapers have again gained more popularity. A trend reversal is occurring in the content business print-based newspapers are becoming interesting again while on-line magazines and newspapers have lost a lot of their users and advertising market. Still newspapers remain a major source of information on matters ranging from details of important news events to human-interest items, after competing with radio broadcasting in the 10s, the television in the 140s and the Internet in the early 1th century.

British newspapers

Britain’s first newspapers appeared over 50 years ago. The earliest newspapers printed mostly foreign news, but later the papers published domestic news. Clerks who reported the debates of the English Parliament started papers. Unlike in some European countries, the Britain’s newspapers now as then received no government subsidy. And the vital income has always been advertising. In Britain newspapers are the largest advertising medium, and that’s pretty unique compared to the rest of the world.

Today there are approximately 10 daily and weekly newspapers in Britain. More newspapers, proportionately, are sold in Britain than in almost any other country. Even though they have suffered a reduction in the number of readers in recent years, on average two out of three people over the age of 15 read a national morning newspaper. Examples of national daily newspapers are The Sun, Daily Mail, The Mirror, The Express, The Daily Telegraph and The Times. All these newspapers, which are the six largest daily newspapers in Britain, have a circulation of over 11 million. Compared to this, are the Sunday newspapers more popular to read. The six largest weekly newspapers are News of the World, The Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, The Sunday Times, and Express on Sunday. These newspapers have a circulation of about 14 million.

In Britain, as almost anywhere else in the world today, a few large publishing groups own nearly all the national newspapers. The most significant of these are News International, owned by Rupert Murdoch. He is born in Australia and he is called the press tycoon. This concentration of ownership has caused some concern as to whether the public are guaranteed an objective view in the newspapers. The first sign of this trend were noticeable in the early 180s when News International purchased The Times. It marked a shift in that paper from a right of centre but independent to a more openly right-wing position. And this took place when there was a right-wing flavour of the Conservative governments in the 180s. Another example is that Murdoch and News International owns the TV channel Sky Television. In their newspapers you can read about TV programs and there are proved that for example a movie has been better mentioned in the Newspaper from Murdoch than in other Newspapers owned by other companies. That’s so worrying is that News International owns the papers read by over one third of the newspaper-reading public.

In Britain we have an obvious distinction between tabloids, often called popular, and quality newspapers. Here we have a main difference in content and lay out. The tabloids have less news and more focus on gossip, emotion and scandal. They are also smaller with large illustrations, bold captions and a sensational prose style. Often are these newspapers filled with a lot of advertisements, sometimes covering 80% of the newspaper. By contrast we have the quality papers that are often called “broadsheets.” They emphasise news coverage, political and economic analysis together with social and cultural issues.

US newspapers

The first American daily newspaper came out in 178 after the Revolution. It was called the Pennsylvania Evening Post and Daily Advertiser. A rising trend was about to happen from now. By 1800, there were about 0 daily newspapers. By 100, there were over 000 daily newspapers in the United States, but this was also a peak. In the middle of the 1th century six New York City newspapers joined together and created Associated Press, the country’s first news agency. After the Civil War, American Press expanded rapidly because they served newspapers with many different political views.

In the US, there are about 1700 daily newspapers printing a total of 6 million copies, and almost every copy is read by at least two persons. In addition to this about 7000 weekly newspapers are also published, with a combined publication of approximately 40 million. Compared to Britain, daily newspapers are more popular to read than the weekly newspapers. Newspaper publishers in the US estimate that nearly 8 out of 10 adult Americans read a newspaper every day. Examples of the top six dailies in US are Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post and New York Daily News.

In US there is the same trend about ownership. The 0 largest newspaper chains, account for more than 80 percent of total daily circulation. The leading publishing and printing companies are R.R Donelly & Sons and the second largest are Gannet. “Freedom of expression is important to Americans, and freedom of expression is protected by the Constitution.” This means that individual states/communities cannot decide what their citizens can or cannot write or say. American newspapers are all very similar in profile and content. They are basically independent in their politics and they are more issue oriented than party oriented. Not as in Britain where there is much more resemblance between newspapers and partys. One characteristic of American newspapers are their editorials and comment pages. The editorials reflect the views of the publisher or owner on public issue, and other writers are selected to provide a balance of political and social views. Another important characteristic of American newspapers has to do with their tradition of investigative journalism. Newspapers have a tradition of being watchdogs for the government. One example here is from 171 when the New York Times began publishin the Pentagon Papers. When the government tried to prevent their publication, the US Supreme court upheld the right of the newspaper to print this material, stating how much Americans value the freedom of expression.

We can say that American newspapers have a high standard of journalism and they are more interested in “news” than “sensation.” In Britain there is a distinction between quality and tabloid newspapers. In America the weekly newspapers have more tabloids content and lay out. Reporting news in more condensed or shortened versions and offering many more illustrations. One good example is the National Enquirer and it is a weekly newspaper that is primarily sold at supermarket checkouts. The journalistic community also know that scandals and tabloids sell very well, but they are more responsible compared to Britain. They have a public morality agreed that somewhere a line must be drawn.



In the United States there are no government-sponsored television channels, like BBC in Britain. American television is a result of the markets demand. As a result of this, it is more important to entertain than to deliver quality. Television is very important for the Americans. According to Nielsen Media Research statistics Americans are watching TV about 0 hours a week. It is no wonder the TV-Guide is one of the top selling magazines in the country.

Today there are over 100 TV-stations in the US, about 80 of these are from the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service network). PBS is a network of non-profit stations, the channels in the network share programs that embrace national and international news, cultural events, entertainment and education. PBS is devoted to quality programs. An example of this is the well-known children’s program Sesame Street. The program has been a trendsetter in educational programming.

In the US there are three major commercial networks, ABC, NBS and CBS. These networks have emerged from the early radio networks. A fourth network that began to capture significant share of young adult audiences in the late 180s, is Fox Broadcasting Co. Fox is owned by the Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch and have among others, broadcasted the heavily discussed reality TV-show Temptation Island.

During the past two decades the popularity of cable television has grown in the US, a number of cable networks came to prominence. Among these networks are the Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), Turner Network Television (TNT and Cable News Network (CNN), all owned by the American entrepreneur Ted Turner. CNN has reporters all around the world and have a 4-hour news service. Disney owns both ABC and the popular cable sports network ESPN. NBC have ties to the cable channels CNBC and MSNBC, MSNBC is an alliance between NBC and Microsoft.

All together the United States is the world’s biggest exporter of TV-shows. Most people in the western world have watched TV-shows like Seinfeld, Mash, Friends, Ally McBeal, Fraiser, X-Files, and the list go on and on. Most of the shows are produced in Los Angeles. Even shows like Friends, which takes place in New York, are filmed in a Hollywood studio.

Since the US has no government-sponsored television channels, commercials are the main source of income for the channels. The commercials are slotted into the programs at moments that should leave the viewer hanging on to see what comes next. The term “soap-opera” actually comes from the commercial used in the first American TV series in the 150s that were targeted for women.

In the US news should be entertaining, additional to general news they include sports and a weather forecast. The news programs are fast-paced, and have an anchormen or anchor women. Although they do nothing more than read the news, the “anchors” enjoy great celebrity status and have a salary to match. The weather is also an important part of the news programs. It is most likely an attractive woman standing in front of the weather map.

One of the top 10 prime time programs in the states is CBS’s Sixty Minutes, which is a documentary program. Sixty Minutes has managed to be popular, but at the same it is a program that represents quality and integrity.


British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was established in 16 by the government to provide a public radio service. The same year it was established, BBC began broadcasting television. BBC gets its income from an annual licence fee for television; this is normal for most government-controlled broadcasters.

The establishment of independent and commercial television removed the BBC’s broadcasting monopoly in 155. The channel established was the Independent Television Commission (ITV). Many in Britain feared that the establishment of ITV would erode the high standards set by the BBC, but ITV has shown to be competitive with BBC in production of high quality programs. In 18 Channel 4 was established, the channel specialises in minority interest programmes. Until 17 there where four terrestrial channels to choose from; BBC1, BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

In 11 BBC established a commercial 4-hour news channel called Worldwide Television. Before BBC World was established CNN had almost a monopoly in worldwide news broadcasting. CNN has almost three times as many camera crews as BBC World, but BBC has almost twice as many correspondents.

Satellite TV has been available since 18. The major provider of satellite programs is BSkyB that is controlled by the media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Cable television was introduced in 1, now cable television has about 1, 5 million subscribers.

John Major, the former prime minister and leader of the Conservative government, questioned the financing of BBC. The Conservative government argued that BBC had to prove its ability to operate with commercial efficiency to continue to enjoy public funding. Because of this BBC underwent a radical restructuring process during the mid-10, and are today divided into six separate components.

Sport is a very popular and an important part of the culture both in Britain and in the United States. Sporting events attracts an enormous number of viewers and therefore have an extreme commercial value. The largest British sport channel is Sky Sports. BBC can’t afford to broadcast the most popular sporting events, because of the extreme commercial value these events have for the private channels. The largest sport channel in the United States is, as mentioned earlier, ESPN.

When comparing the television in the United States and Britain, the most significant difference is that Britain has a government owned broadcaster while in the states there are only commercial networks. We can argue that BBC producers have much more freedom than their American colleges, to develop their own ideas. In the US it is important to make programs that generate profit for the channel. On the other hand, what is quality? Is a program that attracts many viewers quality, or is it a program that educates, inspire, investigate and enlighten its viewers. A fact is that British television is known for their high quality programs, but the biggest exporter of programs is the United States.



The Internet is, as we are all aware of, becoming more and more popular and useful to people around the globe. Over the last 0-40 years the Internet has developed from being a network which was built by the US defence department in order to survive a cold war nuclear attack into a World Wide Web of networks enabling all kinds of people to communicate with each other. In this section we will take a closer look at the reasons why the Internet has become so successful, which trends that are currently affecting the further development of the Net and what the predictions are for the future. We will especially emphasise the importance and development of e-commerce. This, because e-commerce probably is the best example on Internets ability and potential to literally change the world.

Let us first take a closer look at some general figures, which may give a better perspective of the huge scale of the Net. As we have already mentioned the Internet was designed and created around 40 years ago for military purposes. In 17 40 computers were linked to the Internet and by 184 the number of host computers had increased to 1000. With the emergence of a new type of transmitting technology (TCP/IP) in 186, 10,000 machines got connected to the Net. And from then on the number of computers connected to the Net increased immensely from one year to the next. The number of connected machines crossed the one million mark in 1, the ten million mark in 16 and the hundred million mark in 000. Today there are over 110,000,000 host computers and it is predicted that there will be over one billion machines connected to the Internet by 005.

If one takes a look at the Internet from another perspective, one can also see how appealing the Internet is for people. In the United States it took 8 years until 50 millions Americans had got themselves a radio and 14 years until they had gotten themselves a TV. With an Internet connection it took only 4 years for the Internet to reach 50 million Americans. Even if you take the differences of buying power and number of peoples of the different periods into consideration, these figures speak for them self. The Internet has developed into being almost a necessity.

If we narrow the perspective a bit and take a closer look at the roles that the US and the UK play on the Internet, one can clearly see that the US has a huge domination over the rest of the world as both hosts and Internet sites are concerned. 60% of all the Internet host machines are in the US and US-based domains have a worldwide dominance. The main reasons for this dominance are the combination of the US being one the richest countries in the world and the simple fact that there are over 80 million Americans. But the UK and the rest of the world are catching up. In the process of expanding the Internet further, e-commerce is playing a vital part.


Let us first define e-commerce. E-commerce (electronic commerce or EC) is the buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet, especially the World Wide Web.

As a place for direct retail shopping, with its 4-hour availability, a global reach and the ability to interact and provide custom information and ordering, the Web is rapidly becoming a multibillion dollar source of revenue for businesses around the globe. In the following we will take a closer look at the British and American e-commerce.

Also in e-commerce, and generally within e-business, the United States is the dominating actor. Over the last five years, the American retailers have been the dominant actors in e-business. The e-commerce trade was previously known for being unprofitable, and as the “IT-bubble” burst, many people lost their belief in e-commerce. But recently, the companies using the Internet as their storefront have been experiencing profits. The main contributors to this trend are Amazon.com and Ebay.com. These two American companies did in 001 make strong earnings and the main reason for this is their gains in overseas sales. Amazon.com has managed to capture shares from far-flung markets mainly because of their globalised corporate structure. This way of organising across country borders may very well be the new trend for internet retailing and especially for American companies which has such a huge overtake on the market. Research has actually proved that US buyers usually find little incentive to buy from foreign retailers, but still foreigners tend to buy from the American retailers. And if this trend is a trend that will continue into the future, the US-e-commerce will be very likely to sustain growth also in the future.

One country that is doing its best to prove this trend wrong is Great Britain. The UK Government has set itself the target of becoming “the best environment in the world to do e-commerce”. This governmental goal reflects how high the British government recognises the significance e-commerce has in the future performance of the economy. One of the actions they have done in order to improve the Brits internet literacy and access, which is the main condition for any Internet activity, is to invest heavily in improving the connection infrastructure. This effort has already shown results according to the internet monitoring company “Net Value”, only during the summer of 001, the number of home internet users connected to an e-commerce web-site increased with over half a million people in the UK. This growth is well above the rest of Europe. Another result of this effort is that during 001 the number of permanent Internet connections in the UK increased with 6%. To have a permanent connection to the Internet is important because it is believed that people tend to use more time on searching for goods and shopping online when they are permanently connected to the Net and only paying a fixed monthly subscription fee to the ISP (Internet Service Provider).

As the large British e-commerce companies are concerned, they have not yet started to make money. But, the predictions for the near future are good. Most of the companies and many Internet analysts are expecting good figures for the year to come. One company is the high-profile online retailer Lastminute.com. Although they have experienced huge losses the last couple of years, they are now expecting to break even later this year.

The Future

In general, the future for e-commerce and the Internet-medium is quite bright. Revenues from e-commerce are expected to reach the $5 trillion mark by 005 and many experts are predicting the pattern of e-commerce to be more widespread in the years to come. During the next four years the US market share is expected to decrease from 50% to 5%. The utilisation of the Net will explode. The Internet will be used more and more as a place for advertising, information and so on in addition to the mentioned retailing. It is also expected that the Internet will bring more efficiency into government markets.

But, there are also great deals of obstacles that one must overcome in order to experience the predicted future development. The governments across the world must create and adjust the environment as law and legislations are concerned. They must also promote full access for everyone to the Internet, on the same level as they do for power, water and mail.

We have in this section tried to give an insight in the past development, current trends and future predictions of the Internet as a medium and exemplified it through e-commerce. So now it is left to see what the future will bring of new technology and e-business niches. But one thing is sure The Internet is here to stay.


In an age of digitisation, it seems the last subject in the world we want to talk about is the power and the value of print. For today, were busy talking about multi-media, and how the value proposition for newspaper companies is the quality of our journalism across many media platforms. But the last exploration of the media trends shows still the importance of newspapers. In the last couple of years we have been watching a trend reversal which occurre in the content business print-based publications are becoming interesting again while on-line magazines and newspapers have lost a lot of their luster. This trend reflects the importance of the Internet and of the content market as a whole. Users are becoming increasingly aware that various media have different strong points. They all supply each other. People still want to read their newspaper in the morning, watching TV in the afternoon and surfing around on the web during the day. But the developments of the IT and the Internet have still a long way to go. This age will create new economic and creative opportunities for companies already active in the Newspaper and Television ages. It will engender new types of consumers and consumption patterns and will enable the development of new kinds of content and services.

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