Patterns in media production and media consumption: regional models. Insights from the first project’s results
EUMEPLAT project has issued its first two reports focused on European patterns in media production (D1.1) and in media consumption (D1.2). Both reports show the research conducted by the Work Package 1 “Europeanisation: Lessons from Media History” in analysing the last 30 years trends per region and country.
Prof. Stylianos Papathanassopoulos, from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, on behalf of the research team, has shared the main findings of the investigations conducted.
“The press market in the European Union was substantially affected by commercial TV and digitalisation, manifested in a common downward trend in newspaper sales and circulation and a prevalent shift from print to digital press. Yet, this decline varies significantly among different EU regions, as well as the countries within them. Despite the migration online, Hallin and Mancini’s observation regarding the divide between European Northern / Western and South / Eastern regions remains profound both in terms of news production and news consumption. In the Nordic region for example, newspapers still enjoy relatively large circulation volumes, while publishers in Southern and Eastern Europe strive to convert free readers to paid online subscriptions. Overall, during the last decade European citizens changed their reading habits, and more report reading Press on a weekly rather than on a daily basis.”
“Counting the cultural differences and the role of Press in each country, other factors that shape newspapers’ consumption are the role of the local and regional press in each country, as well as trust in the news and institutions. It is apparent that there is a convergence of reading habits over the last decade, between those who never read or occasionally read newspapers and those who read the Press daily and weekly. Those who used to read newspapers habitually a decade ago are less inclined to do so today, while those who have never read a newspaper in their life are increasing. Similarly, those who read newspapers on occasion (a few times a month or less) have also been increasing, bringing the four categories closer together than ever before.
The working class and the lower-middle class are the main groups abandoning newspapers altogether; people reporting to never read newspapers are both men and women, around the age of 25 or younger, house-bound, unemployed and students. With them are the retired and the manual labourers. Contrary to them, daily readers consist of the middle, the upper-middle and the upper classes, consisting of managers, the self-employed and the retired, with more than 20 years of education.”
“Radio listenership has also slightly diminished in 30 years’ time (mostly in Nordic and Southern Europe), as a side effect of internet radio streaming and on demand platforms. As a result, the number of radio stations and radio employees has started to drop. Although radio is less appealing than it used to be, it continues to be the most trusted medium for 24 countries of EU28.”
“TV is still resilient to technological changes, occupying a big part of Europeans’ daily time, especially in Southern Europe. However, there is a major disconnection when it comes to the hours spent in front of the TV and the reported trust in it. Six out of the eight countries of the Southern European region report low to no trust at all in TV. On the contrary, Public TV is still popular in many European countries and especially during the Covid – crisis citizens turned to Public TV for reliable information. There are some exceptions like Greece and Turkey, who traditionally report low trust in public TV due to political influence and control over the news. The increasing popularity of the internet has affected mostly TV thematic channels, which reached a saturation in most European countries by 2015. News and business channels were the most affected, while film and sports channels are still resilient in most countries.
The fact that TV still has an important role in Europeans’ daily life is also confirmed by the relative stable TV advertising expenditure. However, the “digital disruption” creates new challenges in the national TV markets and therefore, it demands a new strategic response from TV providers if they aspire to keep their dominance in specific audiences and thus, safeguarding their future viability.”
“There is strong evidence of digitalisation, with high scores of broadband internet penetration across Europe, which seems to have altered the daily media consumption repertoire of Europeans. More precisely, most Europeans go online several times per day to read the news. However, they don’t trust online sources. Social media use is still expanding but not to the same extent in all the EU countries and not at the same pace. Citizens of Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta, and Cyprus are frequent social media users, while in the Baltic region, and in Southern and Eastern Europe almost one in two doesn’t use social media daily. When it comes to news consumption, social media are the least trusted sources, except for Greece, Hungary, and Turkey where people prefer social media for their information.
Social media also played a significant part in altering consumption habits across the European continent. Trust in the media seems to go hand in hand with the unequal development of certain countries, combined with an unfree political culture. People in Greece (the least trusting in national news and towards TV), Turkey, Bulgaria, and most of the Balkan states (the least trusting in Press), have all found different ways of placing more trust in social media as they gain access to non-established information and side-lined / minority opinions.”
Where are we now?
“The EU legislation has played an important role since it has created the framework for the homogenization of media systems. However, the harmonization process seems to be driven by foreign platforms mainly owned by non-EU interests. The position of the smaller European countries also complicates the relationship between the European and the local, since the diffusion of technical innovations does not take place at the same time or at the same pace. The result is that small states seem to present a considerable time lag in terms of following the new developments in the EU media universe.
In effect, even if we are witnessing a homogenization process of media systems driven by the advent of digital technology there are still differences among the EU countries. It seems however that the differences are now of a country rather than on a regional level.”
Download the Deliverable 1.1: Patterns in media production: regional models
Download the Deliverable 1.2: Patterns in media consumption: regional models