Poorly crafted question and redundant at that but I promised to help my bro out with an assignment and this is my two cents in the matter:
Mass media needs marketing because of freedom (of choice), democracy, capitalism, free market space, competition, cable and networks, the fall of broadcasting and unilateral dissemination of information (news, entertainment), stocks, the internet, social media, because consumers are informed, savvy but most importantly because the world is an abounding supply market of all that is known to man whereas the individual’s time is limited and his summed up demands niche oriented so the main reason mass media needs marketing in it’s foundation is simply to adapt and fit in the social mechanism it’s supposed to.
Understanding and satisfying needs, wants and desires translates into revenue. Companies that are in the broadcasting business are not exempt from the unspoken rules of the market and from competition but are equally driven by the urge for profit; therefore in order to succeed they need to abide by the classic patterns of business research, development, communication, promotion and publicity, all of which are integrating parts of the basic marketing mix although most of them have upgraded from the Acta diurna (Acta publica or Actapopuli, the first known news paper, written on a tablet, which reported on matters of public interest in ancient Rome (Dictionary of Media and Communications Marcel Danesi) to full service, custom solutions conglomerate departments or agencies meant to propel and help position any mass media either in the mainstream or at the top of it’s desired niche.
In marketing traditional mass-media channels the focus is split up between content development, that attracts ratings, sales, fan bases, which targets the masses or different niches, depending on the type of the channel, whilst utilizing advertising, ratings, sales, and popularity to promote the actual service that generates the most income, ATL (above the line) advertising, meaning the opportunity for other businesses to promote their products and services to your audiences through your channels.
Usually the different channels be it TV, radio or print are nowadays grouped up under a brand name media corporation, such as BBC or Time- Warner, Viacom, Realitatea-Catavencu (in Romania) which allows them inbreeding and inner cross promotion. TV shows, for instance, pertaining to a sister channel within the same media conglomerate can receive a raving review in one of the affiliate magazines or papers which clearly takes away the impartial, unbiased credibility characteristics the media should abide by in exchange for a bigger hype that ultimately translates into sales. This means the giants dictate what is news, what is cool and popular; they set trends and start movements based on their interests. This is where marketing kicks in and determines what the optimum way to profit from such endeavors is.
Actually mass media marketing might just be the most complex process man has ever invented in order to sell something. At first any media channel be it radio, TV or print starts out marketing itself and creating a brand through the and because of business 101. Next up they have to develop a B2B (business to business) marketing strategy and plan out pitches to get companies to invest in them trust, money and ROI (Return on investment) expectations. This needs careful sorting out because you target audiences then companies that target your audiences, so you must be forthright and practice what you preach to both sides in order to facilitate the flow of information from one end to the other and back, of course, interactivity and feedback loops being the only way of showing transparency.
After you’ve managed secure positioning in one sector of the market you have to continuously raise the bar in order to avoid being surpassed by the competition in which case you lose both audiences and businesses that are going to migrate to another channel who can fulfil their advertising and publicity needs better. Even if you still see most FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) like detergent or toothpaste and so on being advertised on almost all media outlets possible product marketing and placement is starting to become very consumer savvy and aim for individuals not masses so they are picking up on the luxury brands targeting system and targeting influencers, leaders of opinion and choosing what brands they associate with and what spokespersons and delivery mediums they use to convey their message and build their corporate and product or service identity on.
There is an information war going on in the twentieth century and the general tendency is directing towards user generated content, which is individual news broadcasting as opposed to official media disseminated content. This is a result, in my opinion, of overexposure, of marketing overdose for the traditional media channels who are trying to compete with the internet, for instance Craigslist has offset the demand for listings in the newspaper as well as online content streaming opportunities have affected ratings and upset the evaluation techniques used up until now to measure success. Marketing for mass media has evolved into an industry specialized in creating and generating news about or related to media channels especially through cross promotion and new media promotion all for the coveted and privileged position of market leader.
I hate to have to resort to clichés but I believe Knowledge is Power just might be this century’s leitmotif because as far down the professional media ladder as you can go people trade money and time for information they want and the most illustrative example of that are Tabloids which broke just about every deontological rule in the book with their nevertheless brilliantly primitive, capitalist marketing technique of creating hype, then exploiting it and delivering it gradually but consistently enough that it becomes habitual.
In light of these facts I believe marketing is at the core of traditional media both internally as an integrating part of the mechanism itself and externally through corporate identity and endorsements of programming and advertising nature alike. Therefore the issue becomes not why traditional media needs to market its channels but whether it could ever do without?