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Marginal Revolution University

Economics of the Media

via Marginal Revolution University


What you will learn

In the Information Age, media is everywhere. This course will help you make sense of it all, providing insight into the structure of media firms, the nature of their products and how they make money.

Is media biased? Is consolidation of media companies bad for consumers? This course will address those questions as well as how the government affects the structure of media through policies such as net neutrality, copyright, TV regulation, and spectrum allocation.

This course will provide a general background on the research from economists on media and journalism. There will be a lot of economics and not too much math.


1. Basic economics of media

The importance of fixed costs

Non-rivalry in consumption

Spatial models

Network externalities

Some economics of advertising

The economics of payola

Payola and conflict of interest

Rossman Payola 1

Rossman Payola 2

Does consolidation lower variety?

Multiple equilibria

History of media economics

Steven Pearlstein on newspapers (Optional)

James Hamilton, Markets for News (Optional)

2. Media bias

What drives media slant?

Does competitiveness lower bias?

Balance for ballot propositions

Newspapers and agenda setting

Ideological segregation

The danger of stories

3. Media and government

Spectrum auctions, spectrum liberalization and the incomplete triumph of Coase

State ownership

Net Neutrality by Jerry Brito

Network economics and 'net neutrality' regulation by Adam Thierer

Weak and strong natural monopoly

Cable TV regulation


Copyright and music

Can the government influence private media?

The unintended consequences of media

The cultural diversity critique of markets

Guide to Conspiracy Theories

4. Media and economic development

Avant-garde and popular art

The economics of Bollywood

Cable TV and women

Food crises and India’s media

Exposing corruption in Brazil

What to do about HIV/AIDS?

James T. Hamilton, “All the News That Fits to Sell”

Thomas Hazlett, The Law and Economics of Net Neutrality

Tim Groseclose, Media Bias

Taught by

Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok


4.5 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Economics of the Media

  • This course talks about fixed and variable costs in media economics. The course also helps provide insight into the structure of media companies, the nature of their products, and how they make money. I have learned a lot from this course. Thank you for the method of explanation and delivery of information.

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