July 1, 2010

Who Controls the Media?

The New Media Monopoly

According to the Media Reform Information Center:
In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in theUnited States. At the time, Ben Bagdikian was called "alarmist" for pointing this out in his book, The Media Monopoly. In his 4th edition, published in 1992, he wrote that "in the U.S., fewer than two dozen of these extraordinary creatures own and operate 90% of the mass media" -- controlling almost all of America's newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. He predicted then that eventually this number would fall to about half a dozen companies. This was greeted with skepticism at the time.

When the 6th edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market. More than 1 in 4 Internet users in the U.S. now log in with AOL Time-Warner, the world's largest media corporation.

In 2004, Bagdikian's revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only five huge corporations -- Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) -- now control most of the media industry in the United States. General Electric's NBC is a close sixth.

Parent Company General Electric

$100.5 billion
1998 revenues

Time Warner

$26.8 billion
1998 revenues

The Walt Disney Co.

$23 billion
1998 revenues


$18.9 billion
1998 revenues

News Corporation

$13 billion
1998 revenues

Background GE/NBC's ranks No. 1 on the Forbes 500. Prior to its merger with NBC and an alliance with Microsoft, GE specialized in electronics. The peacock owns many New York sports team. It also owns or has equity stakes in many popular websites, including Snap.com and iVillage. The largest media corporation in the world, Time Warner owns film and music production companies, theme parks, sports teams, magazines, websites and book publishers as well as Turner Broadcasting With its 1995 merger with Capital Cities/ABC, Disney has become a fully-integrated media giant. In addition to its theme parks, the company profits from retail outlets, magazines, book publishers, websites, motion pictures, sports teams, TV, cable, radio, music and newspapers. Viacom's purchase of Paramount, CBS and Blockbuster Video enables them to use cable, television, movies, comic books, theme parks, music publishing and book publishing to cross-market their products. Broadcasting alone brings in over $6 billion in revenues. CEO Rupert Murdoch's style has inspired respect and fear, and it has also made his multinational ventures in publishing, television and satellite services very successful. The company owns 20th Century Fox, the New York Post, the London Times, TV Guide, many stadiums, the LA Dodgers and five New York sports teams.
Networks Owned NBC

includes programming, news and more than 13 TV and radio stations


includes sports teams, programming, production, retail, book publishing and multimedia


Television Network


includes ABC Radio, ABC Video and ABC Network News


includes stations, CBS Radio, CBS Telenoticias and CBS Network News


includes programming and TV stations (50%)


includes programming and stations

Cable Interests Owns 25-50% of the following:
  • A & E (with Disney and Hearst)
  • American Movie Classics (25%)
  • Biography Channel (with Disney and Hearst)
  • Bravo (50%)
  • Bravo International
  • CNBC
  • Court TV (with Time Warner)
  • Fox Sports Net
  • History Channel (with Disney and Hearst)
  • Independent Film Channel
  • MSG Network
  • MSNBC (50%)
  • National Geographic Worldwide
  • News Sport
  • Prime
  • Prism (with Rainbow, a subsidiary of Cablevision, and Liberty Media, a subsidiary of TCI)
  • Romance Classics
  • Sports Channel Cincinnati, Chicago, Florida, New England, Pacific, Ohio, Philadelphia
  • HBO (75%)
  • Cinemax
  • HBO Direct Broadcast
  • Court TV (33% with GE)
  • TBS Superstation
  • Turner Classic Movies
  • TNT
  • Cartoon Network
  • Comedy Central (37.5% with Viacom)
  • Sega Channel
  • OVATION (50%)
  • Women's Information Television (WIN) (partial)
  • TVKO (75%)
  • 4 regional all-news channels
  • CNN
  • CNN/SI (with Sports Illustrated)
  • CNNfn (financial network)
  • CNNRadio
  • Headline News
  • Sportsouth
  • CNN International
  • CNN Airport Network
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Television (58 hours/week syndicated programming)
  • Toon Disney
  • Touchstone Television
  • A&E (37.5% with Hearst and GE)
  • Lifetime Network (50%)
  • ESPN (80% with Hearst)
  • ESPN2 (80% with Hearst)
  • ESPN Classic (80% with Hearst)
  • ESPN West (80% with Hearst)
  • ESPNews (80% with Hearst)
  • Buena Vista Television
  • Biography Channel (with GE and Hearst)
  • History Channel (37.5% with Hearst and GE)
  • Classic Sports Network
  • E! (35%)
  • Nickelodeon
  • MTV
  • M2: Music Television
  • VH1
  • Showtime
  • Nick at Nite's TVLand
  • Paramount Networks Comedy Central (50% with Time Warner)
  • TNN: The Nashville Network
  • Movie Channel
  • FLIX
  • All News Channel (50%)
  • Sundance Channel (45%)
  • Midwest Sports Channel
  • CBS Telenoticias (30%)
  • Home Team Sports (66% with News Corporation)
  • Fox Family Channel (50%)
  • Fox News Channel
  • fx (50% with TCI's Liberty Media)
  • fxM (50% with TCI's Liberty Media)
  • Fox Sports Net (25% with TCI, GE and Cablevision)
  • The National Geographic Channel (50%)
  • FIT TV Partnership
  • Regional networks, including TV Guide Channel and Fox Sports New York

  • Other Major Players:

    AT&T (TCI) - Recently acquired by AT&T, TCI's hold on cable, internet and local phone services contributed to $7.6 billion in 1997 revenues. TCI is the second-largest US cable television system provider, and it has 10% ownership of Time-Warner/Turner. The company owns all or part of USA Network, Sci-Fi Network, E!, Court TV, Starz! and Starz! 2, Black Entertainment Television, BET on Jazz, BET Movies/Starz! 3, CNN, TNT, Headline News, Prime Sports Channel, The Learning Channel, Discovery Channel, QVC, Q2, Fox Sports Net, The Travel Channel, Prevue Channel, Animal Planet, The Box, Telemundo, International Channel, Encore, MSG Network, Action Pay-per-view, and the Home Shopping Network.

    Sony - Sony's main media interests, earning $9 billion in 1997 sales, are in film and television production, movie theaters and music.

    Universal (Seagram) - In addition to Universal Studios, with its production facilities and theme parks, the company owns the USA and Sci-Fi cable networks.

    Media Giants

    According to PBS:
    The past decade's wave of media mergers has produced a complex web of business relationships that now defines America's media and popular culture. These relationships offer a massive opportunity for cross promotion and selling of talent and products among different companies owned by the same powerful parent corporation.

    Examine the charts breaking down what each of the five U.S. media giants now control (as of February 2001). Also included on this list is Bertelsmann AG, which in globalizing has bought up several large American media divisions.
    Click on each one to see their holdings

    It is the second largest global media conglomerate, after AOL Time Warner.
    Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation Ltd. has media holdings in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, Latin America and Asia.
    news corp

    This privately-owned German media conglomerate has interests in 600 companies in 53 countries.

    walt disney

    vivendi universal
    It's the third largest global media conglomerate. FY 2000 revenues topped $25 billion. This giant's subsidiary Universal Music Group is the number one music company in the world, with roughly 22% of the 1999 global market.
    aol time warner
    The $165 billion mega-merger between AOL and Time Warner, approved by the FCC in January 2001, is the largest media merger in history. The new company promises to offer a powerhouse of integrated communication, media and entertainment across all platforms -- computer, phone, television and handheld wireless devices.
    Sony made its name with electronics, but it now has more than 1,000 subsidaries worldwide, many of them key media partners.

    Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert turning into blatant propagandists since Obama took office

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