Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Cox International Center, speaks at a conference in Prague. Photo provided by: Martin Srna of KEYNOTE.

Cox Center Associate Director Is Keynote Speaker At International Conference In Prague

The media market in Central and Eastern Europe has been oversaturated since the 1989 fall of communism in the region, Dr. Tudor Vlad told a group of international journalists, scholars and politicians at a conference in Prague in November.

Dr. Vlad was a keynote speaker at “25 Years After: The Challenges of Building the Post-Communist Media and Communications Industries,” held Nov. 20-22 at New York University Prague.  The conference was organized by KEYNOTE and Transitions Online in partnership with the European Communication Research and Education Association, Charles University and the International Studies Association.  Additional support was provided by the International Visegrad Fund and the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic.

Dr. Vlad is associate director of The James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, an international outreach unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

In his presentation, “Can we talk about a successful transition of the media from the communist model to what we see today?” Dr. Vlad spoke about studies conducted in the Cox Center that suggest media markets in the post-communist countries often are characterized by hypercompetition, described as “a number of media outlets too high for the advertising and sales revenues.”

Vlad shared data he gathered with: Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox International Center; Ann Hollifield, Thomas C. Dowden Professor of Media Research at UGA’s Grady College; and two colleagues from Sweden, Adam and Eva-Maria Jacobsson.   Case studies of Romania and the Republic of Moldova further illustrated the researchers’ theory.

In contrast to traditional ad-driven media outlet models, many business people, oligarchs and special interest groups in Central and Eastern Europe and in the former soviet space over the past few decades have funded their own media outlets as a way of driving their agendas, Dr. Vlad told the gathering.

“Usually competition produces better products with lower prices and more diversity,” Dr. Vlad explained.  “In this case, hypercompetition actually produces low products, meaning that the quality of the journalism is low.”

While at first some of the 120 conference attendees seemed resistant to the data, several approached Dr. Vlad after his talk and offered anecdotal evidence of hypercompetition in their countries.  Dr. Vlad has said that feedback has inspired him to work in the future to develop a formula that could calculate a rate of healthy media competition.