The European Institute for Communication and Culture and World Association for Christian Communication will hold a colloquium in Piran, Slovenia on media ownership and control in East-Central Europe. With the end of the communist utopia at the turn of the 1980’s, East-Central European countries have been undergoing fundamental changes – in politics, economy, as well as social consciousness. The media followed suit: A few thousand newspapers and magazines changed their owners, many went out of business and even more new ones were launched. Dozens of commercial radio and TV stations have appeared on the market. Nowhere in the world were these changes more dramatic than in East-Central Europe. While the process is still far from complete, there is no doubt that these region has the richest experience of democratisation and its impact on the mass media. The abstract debates about the ideal relationship between the media and democracy have a concreteness and an urgency which are is sometimes lacking in discussions about more stable societies, either democratic or dictatorial. These processes of democratisation have taken place more or less at the same time as the growth of new media, and have clearly influenced both governments and citizens in their thinking about the role and functions of the media. The questions of commercialisation, ideologisation, objectivism, politicisation, private ownership, monopoly, state control, the role of church and, generally, the relationship between the mass media and democracy are hotly debated topics, both by scholars and by political and social actors. This colloquium will address those themes.
We welcome papers that look at the experience of the media and democratisation, and the new media and democracy, in both East-Central Europe and other regions to enable a comparative perspective. We are interested in detailed country studies, comparisons of two or more countries either within the region or between regions, and attempts to draw more general theoretical lessons from the concrete experiences in question. As is always the case in Colloquia organised by or with Euricom, we do not intend to prioritise any particular approach or method. We welcome papers from any perspective, or employing any methodology. It is one of the strengths of the kinds of gathering we organise that these differences can be debated and discussed in an open and friendly way, to the benefit of all participants.