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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Media Convergence: Meaning, Importance and Limitations

Introduction to Media Convergence
Media convergence has become a vital element of life for many people. With the development of technology in  different  platforms and operations such as television, Internet and mobile communication, audiences have had both a bigger choice of media and a life which media technologies has made easier. Media Convergence is the phenomenon involving the interlocking of computing and information technology companies, telecommunications networks, and content providers from the publishing worlds of newspapers, magazines, music, radio, television, films, and entertainment software. Media convergence brings together the “three Cs”—computing, communications, and content.
The ACMA defines media convergence as ‘the phenomenon where digitization of content, as well as standards and technologies for the carriage and display of digital content, are blurring the traditional distinctions between broadcasting and other media across all elements of the supply chain, for content generation, aggregation, distribution and audiences’

Simply, Media convergence is defined as the technological merging of content in different mass media. Media convergence is a theory, and subsequently a practice, in communications where every mass or niche medium eventually merges with each other to the point that they are indistinguishable from each other, creating a new medium from the synthesis, due to the advent of new communication technologies. With the advent of new medium over the Internet and the mobile, media convergence is now an increasing reality in the India media and entertainment industry. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Media Convergence
Advantages of Media Convergence
1. Media for the Consumers: Like any other business, the purpose of the media is to earn profit and the only way they can do so, is by providing the viewers with whatever they want. So something that is popular in media stays on, while others are just chucked out. Since people are responsible for what appears in the media, it is assumed that quality media wins. 
2. Minimal Government Control: If the media is consolidated, and it is people who make choices of what they want to see, the government control is minimal.
3. The Advantage of Converging Technologies: Due to converging technologies the media houses are fueled by the desire to reach consumers in different and often innovative ways. This allows the user to get a phone, TV and internet from a single company, and pay a single competitively priced bill, instead of three different bills. The competition among the few media houses also ensures better and lower prices for the consumers.
4. Diversification: With media convergence there is lesser investment risk. Therefore, a bad phase by a subsidiary of the media conglomerate can be counterbalanced by more profitable ventures. Meanwhile, the pro consolidation voice also argues that with diversification there are a number of TV channels, movie productions, newspapers, radio or the Internet offered by companies. Thus every niche is catered for, and every voice is heard.
5. Direct Participation of Public: Due to media convergence, people can directly provide feedback to the media. Media are increasingly evolving into a better direction. In addition, people become more free to choose the information, without having to be bound by the agenda setting theory is designed in traditional media. As well, the public can participate as a conduit of information to the media.
6. Citizen Journalism: The presence of public spaces in the media convergence which then led to the innovation of citizen journalism. Media convergence requires direct feedback from the public that the media follows the growing trend toward becoming better.
7. Bigger Choice of Media: Media convergence has become a vital element of life for many people. With the development of technology in  different  platforms and operations such as television, Internet and mobile communication, audiences have had both a bigger choice of media and a life which media technologies has made easier.
8. Lowe Cost: With the development of technology, the cost of products and software was lowered. Instead of having different news crews for every medium, one converged media operation can use the same reporters and staff to produce stories for, television, telecommunication and Internet mediums.

Disadvantages of Media Convergence
1. Lack of Competition: One of the biggest fears in the minds of those opposing media convergence is that the large media houses will silence alternate views, which can then lead to a decline in democratic viewpoints. It is staggering to imagine that only a handful of media houses cater to billions of viewers. 
They are responsible for controlling all aspects of the industry, from creation and production to delivery. This has led to lack of meaningful content and alternate viewpoints in the media. So, every channel you tune into expresses the same opinions. There is marked censorship of content, especially if it is too controversial. The lack of diversity is a direct result of monopoly in the market, and little or no healthy market-based competition. 
2. Money vs. Public Interest: The lack of adequate competition also means that media houses now, run after money instead of serving public interest. Since every media house is now ensured of a large global audience, the focus shifts from providing quality services to getting more money. Innovative or risky ideas are now squelched in favor of 'tried and tested' methods. Moreover, with less competition, the media houses charge more and, due to the lack of alternatives, the consumer has to pay.
3. Focus on Advertisers: The commercially driven media is loyal to their sponsors and advertisers, not to the viewers. There is minimal interest in journalism and public affairs, and more concentration of lucrative genres that do quite well.
4. Under-representation of Women: There is a vast under-representation of women and people of color in media. Even though women consist of 51 % of the Indian population, they hold less than 7 percent of all TV and radio station licenses. There is also a lack of accurate coverage and diverse programming related to women and minorities in the media.
5. Biased Political Views: Large media houses are also blamed for their biased political views. Media companies are known to support candidates and political parties. When donations of this magnitude are made, it affects and influences the content in the media as well.
6. Less Local News: With the monopoly of large media businesses, the local news takes a backseat. With cross-owned media there was a marked production of total news produced locally.
7. Health Risk: It is believed that new media devices such as cell phones can cause serious health risk. Such as headaches, ear aches, blurring of vision can cause cancer.
8. Security Risk: High security risk Content can be stolen, copied and redistributed with the proper consent or authorization. Added to that identity theft and compromise of personal information such as credit card details.
9. Lack of Credibility: It makes it harder to locate credible sources as most of new media devices such as the internet and social networking sites such as YouTube often times does not filter the information on these site.