What is political economy and how can it be applied to the study of media and communication? This volume explains the analytic tools that political economy can apply to today's increasingly global and technological information society. The author presents an historical overview of the discipline and defines political economy by its focus on the relation between production, distribution and consumption of communication in historical and cultural context. This comprehensive analysis of the "commodity form" in communication includes an examination of print, broadcast and new electronic media, the role and function of the audience and the problem of social control. It concludes by addressing the relationship of political economy to the increasingly important fields of policy studies and cultural studies.