Structural Media Pluralism| Between a Rock and a Hard Place? Market Concentration, Local Ownership and Media Autonomy in the Czech Republic
This article examines, by means of a case study, recent trends in media ownership in the Czech Republic and their impact on media pluralism and journalistic autonomy. The analysis focuses mainly on the ever-intensifying processes of ownership concentration and conglomeration, as well as on the presence and rising significance of local media owners, many of whom belong to the Czech business and industry elites. In this context, the article investigates both the allegations and the growing evidence of political and business instrumentalization of the media in the hands of these “industry tycoons.” The author argues that this kind of coupling of business, media, and political sectors constitutes an ever more prominent feature of the Czech media system, and can be regarded as an indicator of its gradual “Italianization.” Contributing to the debates about the risks of concentrating foreign ownership in the post-transformation media markets, this case study also demonstrates that the increasing power of local media owners certainly does not represent a trouble-free alternative either.