Platformization and Media Capture: A Framework for Regulatory Analysis of Media-Related Platform Regulations | Vol. 28, No. 2

Mar 3, 2023

Courtney C. Radsch

This article analyses the challenges of regulating the digital technology sector to support journalism in the era of platformization. It examines the interdependence between three categories of policy interventions proposed by regulators worldwide to rebalance the dynamics between journalism and online platforms: taxation and subsidies, copyright and licensing, and competition and anti-trust. By examining the theory of change driving each intervention, the benefits to publishers, and the potential for government intervention, this paper explores the risks of capture inherent in different approaches. It analyses the potential for media capture in each regulatory approach and with respect to further tying the future of journalism to the infrastructure provided by tech platforms. Capture through platformization is not well understood or considered by policymakers, and many debates over regulation rightly focus on the potential for political influence, but they fail to consider the broader implications of specific policy interventions on infrastructure capture. This article argues that policymakers must establish a transparency framework to provide better data and understanding of the relationship between online platforms and news media. Without it, interventions will be ineffective, and dependency ensured. It concludes with a discussion on the importance of defining the objectives of new laws and crafting them in ways that minimize threats to media independence and sustainability. This article provides a theoretical contribution to the broader emerging discourse on platformization and media capture and offers practical recommendations for policymakers based on comparative analysis and an assessment of evidence and impact.