Written by: Alek Hidell
I love information. I can’t get enough. At any given time, I’m watching cable news, listening to news radio or turning to a major news provider online. Regardless of where I turn, the information making it’s way to my eyes or ears originates from one of only six media conglomerates. Once upon a time, the independent newspaper had a chance to survive in the marketplace. Just 30 years ago, we had 50 companies responsible for bringing the news to 90% of the American people. By 1987, that number was down to just 29. Why the sudden shift in media ownership? During this era, the Reagan administration not only deregulated the banks leading to the savings and loan scandal, he also deregulated aspects of media acquisitions under the FCC. This allowed for an increase in the number of television stations any particular media corporation could own. Ultimately, this started the consolidation of the media which has led us to the six giants in the industry we have today. The next big step was taken by the Clinton administration. In 1996, Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This lifted the 40 station ownership cap. The rest is history. So who are these six media giants?
Time Magazine was launched in 1923. By 1927, Time Warner released the world’s first movie with sound. Over the years, Time Warner has grown to encompass such companies as HBO, Turner Broadcasting, Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema, AOL, and People Magazine.
When most people think of Disney, images of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck spring to mind. Walt Disney was an animator and filmmaker, who by the 1950’s became a household name. The Disney media empire is a power house in the entertainment industry, owning ABC, ESPN, A&E, Pixar and a half dozen other movie studios.
The fifth largest cable broadcasting company, Viacom is fairly new, having been formed in 2005. Viacom is the mother company of MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike TV, VH1, The Movie Channel and everyone’s favorite, Comedy Central. Viacom has not been without controversy. Viacom has repeatedly gone to battle with YouTube over hosting copyrighted videos. Viacom also contracts with Wiki-PR, a controversial PR firm that specializes in subverting Wikipedia information for business purposes.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is the second largest media company in the world. News Corp owns Fox, Direct Tv, The Wall Street Journal, The NY Post and dozens of other smaller media outlets. After the Murdoch hacking scandal, NC was forced to split into smaller entities, the largest being 21st Century Fox.
CBS was one of the first major networks, founded in 1927. CBS found success in radio, but by the 1950s, made the shift to television. CBS currently owns CNET, Showtime and Simon and Schuster Publishers.
A subsidiary of GE, famously known for never paying a dime in corporate tax, is responsible for a large part of the television and film market. NBC also owns Bravo, CNBC, Oxygen, Syfy, Telemundo, Universal, USA Networks and more.
These six corporations control 90% of everything you see and hear on television, in the movies, on the radio and in print. The driving factor for these companies is profit, not providing real, relevant and true information to the public. These companies, aka “the mainstream media” have grown untrusted by 57% of the American people, an all time high, according to a new poll by Gallup. These companies have become the mouthpiece for the establishment, never going against “official stories” or choosing to investigate issues further. Thankfully, over the last decade, we have seen more and more people turning to alternative sources of news such as blogs and social media. A recent study showed that 23% of iPhone users get their news primarily from Facebook and Twitter. Independent media continues to grow and have an impact on the ratings of the major news and media providers. Perhaps one day, truth will again, be the driving factor behind the media, and not the all mighty dollar. Click here to see an infographic with more interesting statistics.
There is another seventh candidate, worth to mention, on the list which is not American, but controlling the media in 50 countries worldwide, the Bertelsmann Mass Media Corporation. More Info on Wikipedia, Click here.
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