What meaning do online services have for the formation of public and individual opinion? And to what extent does a purely commercial offering show deficits concerning constitutional law? The Hans-Bredow-Institut explores these questions in this project.
The specific need for the regulation of traditional broadcasting is justified by the Federal Constitutional Court with the particular importance of radio and television for the formation of public and individual opinion and with the structural deficits of purely commercial offerings regarding constitutional stipulations. That a market-related provision of broadcasting shows deficits (i.e. information asymmetries, problems to internalise external effects) is supported by media-economic analyses. Thus, legislation has not been limited to the regulation of private broadcasting; it created a dual broadcasting system of commercial providers and public service broadcasters that are independent from the market.
In view of numerous communication services, such as the internet, the question arises what significance these services have for the formation of public and individual opinions and to what extent purely commercial offering show deficits concerning constitutional law.
The institute pursued the for the traditional broadcasting developed approach of structural diversification regarding online services in several projects. In a joint study with the Institute for Broadcast Economics in Cologne, it became clear that we have to differentiate between different types of services. Compared to traditional broadcasting, some online services show a similar relevance for the formation of public and individual opinion as well was similar market failures. As a result, we have to look at these types of services when guaranteeing free public communication. However, other services show only very few market failures.
The categories that have been developed in this study and the derived types of services form the basis for further research activities: a project commissioned by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Landesmedienanstalten [Association of States Media Authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany] aimed at developing and evaluating options for a sustainable model of regulation for communication services rendered commercially. On the premise that convergence does not need a consistent regulation of all electronic communication services rendered commercially but requires a modularised and differentiated order based on individual goals, we outline proposals of structuring such orders including appropriate regulations for market access. Further activities that include the findings of this study are the project on online services of public service broadcasters and the project on the consideration of related markets that are relevant for media when applying the audience share model.