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Essay: Organisation of power-making in a network society

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  • Published: 22 September 2015*
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Power-making in a network society takes place in the political, economical and social world. It is the way networks influence these worlds by communication technologies and spreading digital information. It not just a simple way to directly dominate media groups and audiences. It is organised in two parts, one part creates power over people outside the network and the other part creates power over people within the network. First, to hold power over people outside of the network the mechanism of inclusion and exclusion is used. An example of how Murdoch’s company NewsCorp uses this strategy is seen with former writers like Ian Spiegelman. He claims to be ordered to not write about a Chinese diplomat who visited strip clubs because it would have negative consequences for the expansion of the company to China. In this way NewsCorp and Murdoch are able to decide which information and people are included and excluded from the ‘space of communication’ (Arsenault & Castells, 2008). The second way how power-making is organised is within the network it self. Within the network there are also two ways of power-making. First, there is the group of programmers. They program the networks goals so that the network can adapt its structure and connections to reach these established goals. Programming works differently in every network, but they do have some things in common. Programs are developed by ideas, projects and visions which can be based on specific or non-specific interests. The communication and persuasion of the programmers are the most important abilities to program a network (Arsenault & Castells, 2008). The second and last way of power-making in a network is establishing and controlling connections between different networks with the same interests and goals. This is done by the switchers, they connect as many different networks as possible to the network they are working for. A few examples of these networks that can be connected are political networks, media networks and scientific networks. By having these connections a network can profit because of the increase in resources for the company. An example of switching is Murdoch’s controle over the connection between the political network and the media network. Because of this connection Murdoch is able to offer not only financial support and a standard media platform, but also as Arsenault and Castells (2008) call it ‘an ability to expand its holdings through the granting of regulatory favors, leading to larger audience shares, which in turn expands its political clout, creating a cycle of influence’ (p. 497). These connections with different networks change over time according to NewsCorp’s goals.
Why Murdoch’s NewsCorp is interested in Eredivisie Live
The NewsCorp network is based on three strategies. The first one is to have control vertically and to network horizontally, so to have control over every part of the network and to connect with other companies with similar goals and interests. The second strategy is market expansion, to do whatever it takes to expand the market. And the last strategy is to use the company’s power to influence the opinions of the audience and politics. These strategies make NewsCorp a switching point between media, political and economic networks (Arsenault & Castells, 2008). All three strategies are arguments as to why Murdoch would want to enter the Dutch media market.
First, taking over the majority of a sportschannel in The Netherlands could be explained by the horizontal networking strategy. Figure 1 (Arsenault & Castells, 2008) shows that NewsCorp owns sportchannels in Asia and sports newspapers in America. Horizontal networking would mean taking over or increase power in companies that have the same interests and goals. In this case that is broadcasting sports and earn money.
Secondly, it’s an opportunity to expand the market of NewsCorp in Europe or to be more specific in The Netherlands. With this market expansion they are taking over a big part of the live broadcasting of soccergames on Dutch televison. This makes them able to make the Dutch people pay (more) to see these live soccergames. Besides raising the costs for the soccerfans the company has a new platform where they can put advertisements that will reach a big audience. Many companies will be interested in paying for their advertisement to be shown here.
The last argument is that it could be a strategic move to expand the influence of NewsCorp on European politics and audiences. This may sound a little farfetched knowing NewsCorp owns newspapers, news stations etc. in other countries while in The Netherlands they only took over a part of a sports channel. But the network has to start somewhere and sports channels have a big audience in this country with a lot of room for advertising. By advertising they can not only make money, like mentioned in the second argument, but they can also increase their power over companies that pay for their advertisements to be put on Dutch television.

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