How Do Media Companies Make Money?

This is one of my favorite topics because it gives me the chance to connect the dots between business and law. As a liberal arts major, I didn’t really learn much about either business or law in my formal education. Teaching business students at Babson College was my first introduction into the world of business.

But I got really fired up about legal issues when I had the chance to participate in a program hosted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where 20 college faculty spent 2 weeks in Washington DC learning about media law and policy. Ever since then, I have had a deep interest in continuing to learn about how law and policy shapes the business practices and strategies of media industries. Today we are wrestling to find the “right” paradigm for regulating digital media industries, considering their functions and publisher and platforms. How lucky we are to have Congressman David Cicilline, who as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been at work in developing anti-trust legislation to address problems in competition in the digital media marketplace.

Among the many fun activities this week, we meet Alex Nickel, who explains the history behind the cable telecom monopolies. We explore content moderation through a Q&A with Sarah T. Roberts, the author of Behind the Screen, who describes how the work of content moderation takes a psychological toll. We unpack the meaning of “You are the Product.” And students collaborate on a Google Slide Deck to unpack some of the many concepts and vocabulary that is unique to this important topic.

We discuss the recent Australian law that mandates that Google and Facebook pay for the use of digital news content. What are the pros and cons of this important new regulation? What may be the expected (and unanticipated) impacts?

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