ABSTRACT

My argument here has formed over more than twenty years of experience in various aspects of the culture industries. The central assertion on which I base my argument is that mass mediated culture has lowered the default value of cultural materials to zero; that is to say unless people’s words, dances, songs, music, movies, or scripts are bought, promoted, and distributed through the key institutions of mass mediated culture, they are generally considered to be of no fi nancial worth. One key factor in misrecognising or overlooking this outcome is that studies in political economy of communication in particular, and critical media studies more generally, have tended to regard the major corporate persons who comprise the global culture industry as monopolies (Bagdikian, 1997; McChesney, 2000). However such a view is “consumption-sided” to some large extent, focusing on the effects that industry structures and practices have upon cultural “consumers,” and therefore cannot recognise that having a small group of organisations as the largest buyers of cultural materials in a global media system has serious implications for the character and value of culture. This perspective, in which monopolies are seen from the view

of producers, is called monopsony: one buyer, many sellers. This perspective provides a far reaching and very different view of cultural axiology than can be derived from monopoly-based perspectives.