Twenty-Five Years after the Fall: From Communist Monopoly to Foreign Control over Local Owners: Media Ownership and Its Effects on Journalism in Central Europe

Angelika W. Wyka-Podkowka


After the fall of communism in 1989, it was assumed that foreign capital, know-how and experience would contribute to the development of the Central European media in terms of their content, quality and professionalism. In retrospect, this assumption was misplaced. My purpose in this regard is to analyze the process of media privatization by foreign capital and its influence on Central European journalistic culture after communism fell. It can be concluded that the central narrative characterizing the media transformation of Central Europe 25 years after the collapse has been that of commercialization and tabloidization. On the other hand, a major recent development observed in the countries in question—domestic owners instrumentalizing the media for their purposes does not constitute a better alternative. On the contrary, this development constitutes even greater dangers for the watchdog role of the media and for the principles of the public sphere. This article focuses upon three countries of Central Europe: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, and draws from existing academic literature on media transformation and privatization, as well as various reports concerning media ownership regulations and the major media market players.

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