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Generating new knowledge for the culture and media sector

Digitalisation affects the culture and media sector. (Illustrative photo: Shutterstock) The Research Council recently approved the work programme for the Programme on the Culture and Media Sector (KULMEDIA), which is funded by the Ministry of Culture. The programme has a budget framework of NOK 78 million over a five-year period, and has now announced NOK 45 million in funding with an application deadline of 11 February 2015 has now been announced.

New knowledge about a hot topic
The programme will generate new knowledge about the connections between the role of cultural life and the media in society and the economic and technological framework underlying this. 

“To understand the significant changes which the culture and media sector is currently undergoing, we must view technological and economic developments in relation to each other. Digitalisation is leading to dramatic changes and an entirely new dynamic in the public sphere. The traditional economic basis for journalistic media and the book industry is being weakened. At the same time, the principle of artists’ and authors’ intellectual property rights is being challenged,” says Professor Jostein Gripsrud, the chair of the KULMEDIA programme board. 

“The changes may have major implications for society. The media and the various aspects of cultural life lie at the heart of the public discourse and provide the framework for what we refer to as our cultural citizenship. When their conditions change, this may have an impact on the development of democracy. This is why we have a great need for new knowledge about the changes as well as the potential ramifications. We will give priority to research in areas where the changes are most dramatic,” says Dr Gripsrud.

More political debate
Norwegian political debate about cultural and media policy has intensified in recent years – shifting from an area of widespread agreement to one with substantial political division. Heated debates on press subsidies and private financing of cultural life illustrate the disagreements. Studies of how the policy affects the culture and media sector will thus be relevant under the programme.

“An important objective of the programme is to provide a better knowledge base for developing cultural and media policy in the future. It is not the task of research to develop policy, but we can create some tools for use in policy formulation, similar to those found in other areas of society.”

To understand the significant changes which the culture and media sector is currently undergoing, we must view technological and economic developments in relation to each other, says Jostein Gripsrud. (Photo: Universitetet i Bergen) Relevant knowledge for the actors
Dr Gripsrud emphasises that research-based knowledge is also relevant for the actors within the culture and media field. This extends to research that provides tools for understanding, as well as more practice-oriented research.

“I would like to see projects where researchers cooperate with, for example, publishing houses and authors’ associations on studies of how digitalisation is changing the production conditions for authors and publishers, or projects in which economists deliver the basis for ideas about how to earn money on high-quality journalism in an age when Google and Facebook are taking control of advertising revenues,” explains Dr Gripsrud.

Large-scale, interdisciplinary projects
The complex questions asked by the programme encourage interdisciplinary projects. In addition to involvement from the subject areas that traditionally study culture and media, there will be a need for economic, legal and preferably technological expertise in the research projects.

“We are envisioning a few large-scale, inter- or multidisciplinary projects – and cooperation between researchers from various research institutions is welcome in this context. The research questions also call for comparative studies in which international cooperation will be natural,” concludes Dr Gripsrud.

The first call for proposals issued by the KULMEDIA programme will have sufficient funding for three to five projects.


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