Post-Communist Institution-Building and Media Control
Keywords:Post-communist, media, enabling environment, institution-building, Ukraine
AbstractThis study uses an interdisciplinary perspective to shed light on Ukraine’s continuous problems with media independence, which to date have not allowed Ukraine to become a country with a truly free media: since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 its media have consistently remained only “partly free.” The approach proposed in the paper combines theoretical tools of post-communist media studies with advancements in political science research in regime change and state-building to explore the continuities and changes in the institutional environment for the media in post-communist new democracies. The approach is applied to analyze two cases of post-communist media change, both problematic to explain within the framework of media studies alone: the case of incomplete media transformation in a hybrid regime (Ukraine) and the incident of backsliding in independent media in an advanced new democracy (Hungary). The paper is structured as follows: I first present the shortcomings in the way institutions, or more specifically the institutional environment for media freedom, were previously approached in post-communist media studies. I then propose a more advanced approach based on theories and concepts originating from comparative-politics studies of regime change and state and institution-building. I apply this approach to analyze the institutional environment for the media in Ukraine. Next, I explore the case of a radical reconstruction of media-related institutions in Hungary after Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party came to power in 2010.
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