Media Regulation, Competition Policy and Cross-ownership Schemes: The Case of Greece

The regulation of media, which is an important sector within broad cultural economy, runs into
substantive difficulties when it interfaces with competition regulation. In this paper, the Greek
experience on media regulation is discussed as a research input for the development of a theoretical
approach that involves competition analysis. This discussion takes place in relation to similar
international developments with a special focus on the Australian experience. In the Greek case,
serious attempts to regulate aggressive media groups based on their market share and their
involvement in other forms of business have failed because of incompatibility with competition law
and erroneous restrictive regulation for political reasons. Therefore, the relation between media,
family businesses, and crossownership schemes must be examined further. An analytical approach is
proposed through the development of a basic model of private benefits for media based on core
cross-ownership theory. The model demonstrates that cross-ownership schemes in the media can
produce inefficient economic outcomes with high agency costs. The paper focuses on the possible
interface of the media policy with the competition policy and the need to separate those two
processes, since competition policy fundamentally addresses economic outcomes while media
regulation deals with non-economic ones. Still, to the extent that the media are dominated by family
businesses and cross-ownership schemes that are involved in other businesses, they can produce
ineffective economic outcomes and agency costs in exchange for large private benefits (in the case
of Greece, mainly from public contracts). Thus, the development of regulation on media requires a
greater level of sophistication on the part of policymakers so that the difficulties stemming from
cross-ownership can be successfully addressed.

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