June 2, 2005

The Role of Media as a Supporting Institution: Implications for Development Policy

  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
Key materials
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In democracies, the presence of an independent media not only heightens voter awareness of important policy issues but also provides them with accurate information about the behavior of political agents. This enables voters to monitor politicians who are thus made more accountable to the public. For core economic and political institutions to be effective, a free media must support them. The degree of private ownership and the ease for new entrants to establish themselves in the media industry influence the effectiveness of media in providing the feedback required to maintain core liberal democratic institutions, thereby enabling prosperity. As a general rule, the larger the share of private ownership and the freer the entry, the more effective the media industry will be in this role. Many countries maintain barriers to private ownership ranging from an outright ban on private ownership of media outlets to intimidation of media employees, heavy regulation, and licensing. When such barriers exist, the effectiveness of media in promoting social, economic, and political change is constrained. Where media is under the control of government, democracy is generally stifled and reforms are slow.

Citation - Chicago Style

Coyne, Christopher. "The Role of Media as a Supporting Institution: Implications for Development Policy." Mercatus Policy Series Policy Primer, No. 3. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, June 2005.