What is Media Convergence ?
It is important here to consider the fact that much difficulty and disagreement had arisen in defining the notion of media convergence. Most theorists agree that in general terms convergence means ‘coming together of two or more things’, however a variety of different arguments have been put forward in an attempt to define what exactly is coming together (Grant and Wilkinson, 2009). On the one hand, convergence can be viewed as ‘coming together of different equipment and tools for producing and distributing news’ (ibid.). Jenkins (2006:3), on the other hand, defines convergence as ‘flow of content across multiple media platforms’, suggesting that media audiences nowadays play a crucial role in creating and distributing content, and convergence therefore has to be examined in terms of social, as well as technological changes within the society. According to Jenkins, media convergence is an ongoing process that should not be viewed as a displacement of the old media, but rather as interaction between different media forms and platforms (Jenkins, 2006). Supporting this argument, Deuze cited in Erdal (2011) suggests that media convergence should be viewed as ‘cooperation and collaboration’ between previously unconnected media forms and platforms. Burnett and Marshall cited in Grant and Wilkinson (2008:5) explain convergence as ‘blending of the media, telecommunications and computer industries’ or, in other words, as the process of blurring the boundaries between different media platforms and uniting them into one digital form.
One question that needs to be asked, however, is whether or not these recent developments are beneficial for the society and the industry itself. In other words, whether or not media convergence presents more opportunities than challenges to both media producers and consumers. One of the areas of particular concern when examining positive and negative consequences of media convergence is media ownership (Jenkins, 2006). Nowadays the power to control media industry is concentrated in the hands of private owners and relatively small number of big media corporations. For example, companies, such as Warner Bros., which used to focus on the film industry, nowadays have control over various aspects of entertainment industry in general, such as computer games, books, magazines, web sites and toys, which is all part of the process of media convergence (Jenkins, 2006). Consequences of this trend can be viewed as both positive and negative. On the one hand, it may cause the decline in the diversity of material offered and result in a tendency that voices of those lacking economic power will not be taken into account (Branston et al., 2008:179). On the other hand, it is argued that market driven media owned and controlled by big media corporations ‘can actually improve the value of the service, the flexibility of topics and the competence of the contributers’ as well as enable technological developments, change the elitism of media professionals and create new general awareness (Grant, 2009). Another aspect of media convergence that can be seen as its major drawback is what Jenkins (2006:23) calls the ‘participation gap’. This concept refers to the fact that while media convergence in general has encouraged audiences to participate in the process of content creation, it requires extended access to modern technologies, familiarity with the new forms of media, as well as developing certain skills (ibid.). As a result, certain segments of the audience arguably remain neglected and unable to fully participate in the new media culture.
Drawing on the definitions of media convergence outlined above, it can be argued that one of the ways of understanding media convergence is in terms of interaction between old and new forms of media. This concept can be explained more clearly using the example of television industry and its development over the years. The idea of transition from analogue media to digital media stands at the core of media convergence debate. The term ‘analogue’ is used to describe something ‘that resembles something else’ (Dewdney and Ride, 2006:227), therefore signals transmitted through television can be seen as being analogous to the light and sound of the actual scene (ibid.). In the case of analogue media, each form was separate and independent from the others due to the need to use different ‘materials, properties and apparatuses’ (ibid.). With the introduction of digital code however the situation changed rapidly and opened new possibilities for media creation and convergence, for example, new forms of interaction between producers and consumers