In the early 1980s, roughly fifty different companies owned 90% of American media By 1992, that number had dropped to less than two dozen, and in recent years, that same 90% has fallen to just Six major conglomerates
Although various mergers and layers of external control make this an inexact number Most of the “Big Six” hold interests in film production, cable and broadcast television, news, sports, music, and online streaming So, who exactly controls the media? As of 2015, the largest media company in the world by revenue is Comcast According to the SEC, in 2014, they reportedly made nearly $69 billion dollars Like the other conglomerates, Comcast owns nearly every step in media production and distribution
In fact, Comcast is the single largest cable provider on earth Content is created through subsidiaries like NBCUniversal, which is then broadcast over TV and the Internet through Xfinity Comcast is also a major internet service provider, covering more than half of all US broadband customers Even online streaming giant, Hulu, is jointly owned by three of the Big Six The next largest conglomerate is The Walt Disney Company, with reportedly roughly $48 billion dollars in revenue
Disney has holdings in theme parks, movie studios, and diverse television networks, such as ABC, A&E and ESPN They also own a number of legacy companies like Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, and Lucasfilms of the Star Wars franchise The third of the “Big Six” is 21st Century Fox, which emerged in 2013 as a spin off of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation Today, Fox makes about $32 billion dollars a year, and is predominantly focused on film and television, including Fox News Channel, which made nearly 800 million dollars in ad revenue in 2014 The last independent conglomerate is Time Warner, with revenues of about $27 billion dollars
In the 1990s they were the largest media company in the world But an unsuccessful merger with AOL at the peak of the dot-com bubble made them lose nearly $100 billion dollars in 2002 Since then, AOL and Time Inc, as well as Time Warner’s entire cable division have become separate companies Because they are now unrelated, Time Warner and Time Warner Cable are the fourth and fifth largest media companies in the world, according to Forbes Finally, the last two are CBS and Viacom
In 2013 they reported about $14 to $15 billion dollars in revenue each They used to be a single company controlled by National Amusements, a movie theater chain Today, although they are individually held, National Amusements’ owners have enough stock in both to effectively dictate control So, in a way, there aren’t even six conglomerates, but five! Or maybe there are seven? Some, including former Time Warner’s former vice chairman Ted Turner, have said media conglomerates have become oligopolies, and that they stifle innovation But others point out that they also can provide a greater global reach for smaller and newer companies
In fact, I work for one of those newer companies, Fusion, which is partially owned by ABC-Disney Check out my mini-documentary about independent citizen journalists in Brazil challenging Rio’s police brutality Don’t forget to like and subscribe to TestTube News, and make sure to check out my channel Timcast Thanks for watching and see ya next time!