The media in Australia plays a very important role of selling audiences to advertisers. This paper elaborates on the functions of the media in connection with its role as a public watchdog and as an agent of disseminating crucial information to the public. So as to achieve its function in the society the media has repositioned itself by merging with the telecommunication sector in areas such as digitalization which has seen the media become more effective by decentralizing its role within the society to include playing more public relations role, engaging in corporate use in terms of paid publicity, dissemination of information as well as engaging in the promotional culture. (Binner & Marshall, 2000, 21).
The media in Australia is liberal and a big extent enjoys media freedom enjoyed by other media is the developed world. (Kim, 2003, 40). The media in Australia can be divided into two: first of all that controlled by public and those controlled by private sector. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is one of the biggest public broadcasters in the country with an audience close to 15 million people. (Shirley, Graham and Adams, Brian. 1990, 13). Advertisers have function of marketing their products to the public and as a result, they rely greatly on the media. (Shirley, Graham and Adams, Brian. 1990, 83). This is the root cause of close relations between media and corporation. Although costs of advertisement in the media have been on the steady rise most broadcasters especially televisions and newspapers handle their capacity in terms of daily advertisements. This shows the interconnection between media and advertisers and as a result, demonstrates that the media has a leading function of passing information and for that matter information on behalf of advertisers to the public.
The media engages different tactics and approaches in an agenda setting role which ensures that it can influence public opinion. (Shirley, Graham and Adams, Brian. 1990, 107). Research has shown that the youth in Australia almost entirely rely on the media for business related information. Although the role of televisions, radio as well as newspapers is fast declining with the popularity of Internet as a cheaper alternative is on the rise advertisers still view the television and newspaper media as very critical in setting agenda for the public and as a result, they are more than willing to pay a fortune for that. In addition, the media commands a great deal of respect amongst the public. A form of respect is drawn from a long history of media in Australia being viewed as the means to maintenance of a democratic society.
More than ever before the youth are identifying with media and especially the Internet. For this reason, advertisers found a new frontier in the Internet sponsored advertisements with a number of those online or having access to Internet increasing steadily. This has created a culture whereby the members of the society want to be associated or to be identified with the media giving the media a great opportunity to capitalize in its profit making and commercialization process. The advertisers have not been negligent of this fact and as a result, they have tended to increase their advertisement budgets to reflect the ready market in as far as advertisement is concerned.
It is worthy noting that about 98% of Australia’s population relies on the media for information. (Shirley, Graham and Adams, Brian. 1990, 16). Since corporations have a responsibility to reach out to consumers, the media becomes the largest channel where advertising can take place. Hence the contention that the function of the media is to sell audiences to advertisers not as a duty but as a commercial activity. (Shirley, Graham and Adams, Brian. 1990, 104). Regarding the effectiveness of advertising in the media it has been observed that the media is the most effective advertisement channel and as a result business have been quick to capitalize on this. Even for purposes of branding, no brand can excel in the market without the critical role advertisement through the media plays.
It is correct to say that Australia’s media is largely commercial driven and as a result, the advertisers have to enter into beneficial business relationships with the media if they have to reach their audiences. Advertisements are the major source of revenue for private run media and as a result the media has greatly invested in new technology including Internet technology so as to bring into the market custom made products for corporations. (Shirley, Graham and Adams, Brian. 1990, 102). Thanks to the fusion of Internet technology into media advertisement costs are coming down especially in regard to Internet advertisement which remains the cheapest way to advertise in the media. Gordon, 1997.108.
That the media is relied upon by the public to disseminate ideas and new knowledge is for sure. As a result, advertisers have capitalized on this situation to ensure that they present their products as new ideas which have themes which attract audiences. As a result, news and information have become just like commodities which are sold to audiences and which audiences can purchase. In this context, advertisers have been able to in some cases involve the media in advancement of the laws to an extent whereby some corporations own media for advancement of their corporate interest. (Shirley, Graham and Adams, Brian. 1990, 58).
It is evident from the above discussion that in pursuit of its duties to the public the media is often entangled in conflicts arising from ethical concerns as to where the limit lies in fulfilling the duty of the media as watchdog and their role as answerable to consumers with a corporate aim. Herbert, 2002.32. To answer the above question the solution lies in empowering the media act to allow for more industry regulation so as to make sure that the media does not interfere with freedoms of the public in the process of disseminating information. It has been suggested that, for the media, to function effectively, observation of the media’s code of conduct is mandatory. Keeble, 2001.69.
In conclusion, it emerges from the discussion above that the function of the media is to sell audiences to advertisers something which arises from the fact that the public have developed positive trust with the media to the extent whereby the public trusts almost anything that is presented by the media as useful. The public for a very long time considers information from the media as the only means through which it can interact with the government, and recently with businesses. The public is likely to overlook the commercial aspect of information due to the mutual understanding that continues to exist between public and the media.
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