Dr Tambini’s recent work addresses current issues in media law and policy. Much of this research has been applied, on projects funded by government and by international organizations. He has served several times as a government advisor, most recently appointed as one of a panel of experts reporting to ministers on the value of electromagnetic spectrum to society. Behind the individual projects listed below have been long-standing normative and methodological concerns of media studies in the social and political sciences: in particular the social integrative role of media in complex societies, and the public sphere.
Digital Intermediaries and the changing media environment
Since 2014, Dr Tambini has been Principal Investigator on a research project examining the changing role of digital intermediaries such as Facebook and Google in the distribution of news and opinion formation in society. The research examines the empirical evidence on changing patterns of news distribution and the implications of these changes for accepted ethical and regulatory concepts such as the concept of media pluralism.
Journalism and News Ethics and Self-Regulation
In 2007, Dr Tambini wasawarded a research development grand from the LSE research seed fund, to conduct a research project on Financial Journalism. This has led to the publication of several journal articles and book chapters, for example: Tambini, Damian (2008) What is financial journalism for?: ethics and responsibility in a time of crisis and change. Polis, London School of Economics and Political Science, London. Subsequently, additional research was carried out in Hong Kong and China, leading to the publication of additional articles on financial journalism Tambini has also published several articles on new news business models and in particular Wikileaks.
Regulation and Media accountability
Dr Tambini's research since the 1990's has examined the role of (i) independent regulatory agencies such as Ofcom and it's predecessors, and (ii) self-regulatory bodies in enforcing codes of conduct and applying various forms of public interest regulation on communication providers. In relation to (i) the co-authored chapter on regulatory reform in his 1999 book outlined the case for the model of the converged regulator Ofcom which was established in 2003. This was neither the first nor the only proposal for Ofcom, but it outlined some new responses to then current objections. (ii) In the EU, the notion of communications self-regulation was widely promoted during the late 1990's as a response to the new proliferation of communications services. Tambini et al’s 2008 book summarises the results of a 3 year EC funded project that examines communications self-regulation in practice. During the Leveson Inquiry, Tambini published a number of articles that contributed to the debate about the future of press regulation. Tambini was called to give evidence to the Inquiry.
Dr Tambini’s research on self-regulation, published in a report to the European Commission in 2004, several newspaper articles and blogs, a 2008 co-authored
book and many presentations to government and stakeholders in the period 1999-2007, made 2 principle points. First, that self-regulation will only work where the correct incentives are in place (building on theories of enlightened self-interest) and second, that principled support for communications self-regulation based on the notion of freedom of expression need to be re-assessed in the light of privatised censorship. This was outlined in a report to the EC detailing findings of a 2 year pan-European study of self-regulation in converging media sectors. A book on the same topic was published by Routledge in 2008. When public debate returned to these themes during the Leveson Inquiry in 2012, Tambini collaborated with colleagues to publish LSE Media Policy Brief #6: "Reforming the PCC. Lessons From Abroad". Tambini, Damian and Leonardi, Danilo and Marsden, Chris (2008) The privatisation of censorship: self regulation and freedom of expression. In: Tambini, Damian and Leonardi, Danilo and Marsden, Chris, Codifying cyberspace: communications self-regulation in the age of internet convergence. Routledge / UCL Press, Abingdon, UK., pp 269-289.
Intellectual Property and the Public Domain
Between 2002 and 2005, Dr Tambini was the project lead for the Creative Commons in the UK. This project (www.creativecommons.org) develops innovative intellectual property frameworks for those that want to share, remix and redistribute digital content, and his role was to introduce the framework to the UK and supervise the transposition of CC licenses under UK law. Dr Tambini was commissioned by the European Broadcasting Union to write a book chapter outlining the copyright challenges faced by public broadcasters, and have been appointed to serve on the advisory group of the Creative Archive Licence Group.
The balance of freedom of expression and content regulation has been a topic of ongoing interest, In 2011 Tambini was asked to outline his views in: Regulating Content as Communications Converge: A Debate Between Damian Tambini and Roger Darlington. International Journal of Digital Television. This builds on work done over a long period of time on how various forms of content regulation and censorship respond to digital driven change. During 2000-2001, Tambini was appointed by UK Ministers to advise on the Communications White Paper, the document defining policy for the 2003 Communications Act. In particular, he was asked to write a paper on content regulation, which focuses mainly on television. http://www.communicationsact.gov.uk/
From 2009-2014, Dr Tambini collaborated as a partner and editor in the Open Society Foundation Mapping Digital Media Project, designing the methodology, editing reports and writing comparative overviews for the largest ever international study of media regulation and policy, a 56 country study. The focus of this study was the impact of digitisation on the institutional framework for media law and governance around the world, and related in several publications. This builds on a long term interest in the public policy management of digital change. In December 2005, Dr Tambini submitted written evidence in response to an invitation from the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee. This advice, written in collaboration with colleagues, compares UK policy with that of other European countries, Japan and with the US. This paper has been published in the journal Info.
In January 2015, Dr Tambini published an article in theInternational Journal of Communication summarising the findings of the 56 country study. Mapping Digital Media. This research examines how state administered and public service broadcasters have responded to the shift to digital media. This builds on a long-term interest in the institutional framework for public media in media markets. In January 2004 he published a co-edited volume of essays discussing challenges for public service broadcasting. A peer-reviewed journal article on the same theme was published later in the year. During 2005 and again since January 2006, Dr Tambini served as consultant to UK regulator Ofcom advising on the measurement of the public value of broadcasting. Tambini also acted as a consultant on the same topic to Channel Four Television. In June 2008 he was invited to act as an expert Rapporteur when the French EU Presidency conducted a policy review for a new EC Communication on Public Service Broadcasting.
Competition and Media Pluralism
The dominant approach to media policy in the past two decades has stressed the role of competition in the allocation of resources. In a series of publications, Dr Tambini has examined the limitations of such a view in relation to: consumer transparency and switching (http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/43054/) and argued that the particular features of communications markets (low switching rates and low consumer understanding) create a clear justification for a sector specific consumer champion. Media Policy Project Policy Brief 4. Dr Tambini has also examined the role of media ownership rules in promoting media pluralism, publishing several co-authored articles in 2012, including "Measuring Media Plurality in the UK". Journal of Media Law 4(1) 2012 and "Regulating Media Plurality and Media Power in the 21st Century". (LSE Media Policy Project Policy Brief #7). Dr Tambini’s approach is to study of patterns of change in relation to rules, such as law, codes of practice and licences. He argues that it is possible to gain new insight into current transformations of the nature and extent of the public sphere by examining this often neglected institutional level.