Media Ownership Concentration and Partisan Bias: Examining Cross-National Variation in Media Outlets’ Economic Positioning

About this Session


Thu. 07.04.'22 10:30



Speaker: Erik Neimanns Abstract: In many industrialized countries, governments have done remarkably little to counter trends of rising income inequality. To make sense of this observation, numerous contributions in political science, economics, and communication have turned towards the role of the news media and towards the question of how potential bias in media coverage and framing may matter for the politics of inequality and redistribution. However, while experimental studies suggest that media framing shapes individual-level attitudes related to inequality and redistribution, we possess only limited knowledge of what explains actual variation in political and ideological bias in news coverage across countries. We argue that media bias along partisan lines has given way to media bias that is the result of highly concentrated ownership structures of media markets. While the former implies bias towards both left-wing and right-wing economic positions, the latter is more likely to be tilted more exclusively towards the right. Using expert survey data on media ownership concentration, political media bias, and partisan attachment of media outlets, we find support for these claims. With media outlets tilting towards economically right-wing positions under high levels of ownership concentration, media bias likely results in a more optimistic assessment of inequality and in lower public support for redistributive policies.