Wayne Hope


Amidst trying circumstances, welcome again to The Political Economy of Communication journal. Articles and commentaries for the next issue are arriving before the October 12 deadline, but further contributions are strongly encouraged. A special themed issue on COVID-19 and the political economy of communication is planned for early 2021. A call for papers will be announced soon.

The research featured here begins with Brenton Malin’s analysis of the United States Federal Tax deduction for advertising. This serves as a government subsidy for media corporations and diverts large sums of public money into an upside-down media system in which those that need that money the least benefit from it the most. For Malin, redressing this anomaly must precede any introduction of a media advertising tax for public media purposes.

Natalia Ferrer Roca reveals how Global Hollywood generates profit from offshore film locations by encouraging host governments to provide favourable investment conditions. Specifically, she explains how The Hobbit, filmed in New Zealand, directed by Peter Jackson and financed by Warner Brothers, benefitted from government alterations to domestic labour law. Using an institutional political economy approach, Roca details how the major actors in this dispute—the unions, Warner Brothers, Peter Jackson and the New Zealand government—advanced their particular agendas. The general lesson of the Hobbit case, she concludes, is that the drive for corporate capital accumulation overrides state autonomy and worker interests.

Christopher Garcia combines critical political economy of communication, socialist feminist perspectives and narrative analysis to investigate the plight of professional women basketballers in the United States. Compared to their male counterparts in the NBA, WNBA players are underpaid, condescended to and otherwise accorded secondary status. This situation is normalised by the authority of television ratings figures, audience demographics and other measures of the ‘market rate’ for women basketballers in the WNBA league.

The recent publication of Marx and Art, Art and Postcapitalism and Wages Against Artwork creates an interesting space to engage with the debate about the role of value in artistic production. In his review essay, Martin Hirst examines the arguments presented by Ali Alizedah, Dave Beech and Leigh Claire La Berge. All claim to ground their work in a critical political economy reading of Marx’s fragmented writings on the relationship of art, artists and artistic labour to the mode of production.

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