Approximately 50 firms dominated the vast majority of American news outlets in 1983. Just six immensely powerful media firms currently control the majority of the news industry. The vast majority of what we see, hear, and read each day is under the hands of these corporate titans. They control a number of our favorite websites as well as television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing companies, and music labels. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans never even pause to consider who is providing them with the limitless hours of news and entertainment that they consume on a daily basis. Who owns the media doesn’t appear to matter all that much to most Americans. But they ought to. The truth is that the themes that the mainstream media relentlessly hammers into our skulls have a significant impact on everyone of us. In a given month, the average American watches 153 hours of television. In fact, most Americans find that if they spend too long without watching or listening to something, they start to feel physically uneasy. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans have developed a complete addiction to news and entertainment, and each year, fewer and fewer people own the news and entertainment that we so much need.
Currently, Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., CBS Corporation, and NBC Universal are the six companies that jointly control the U.S. media. The “big six” collectively control all news and entertainment in the country. However, even those media outlets that the “big six” do not fully control are becoming more and more centralized. For instance, Clear Channel today has ownership of more than 1000 radio stations in the US. The Internet is becoming more and more dominated by businesses like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft.
The “big six” are the biggest worries, though. You have a lot more influence on Americans’ thoughts when you manage what they read, watch, and hear. Not by accident is it called “programming.”
The media dominance of around 50 firms in the United States in 1983 was already terrible enough. But since then, control over the media has swiftly shifted into the hands of a smaller and less number of people.
The majority of mass media was controlled by fifty businesses in 1983, and the largest media merger in history cost $340 million. … The fifty companies had only twenty-nine left by 1987. … The twenty-nine had decreased to twenty three by 1990. … The ten largest companies in 1997 were involved in the $19 billion Disney-ABC merger, which at the time was the largest media merger in history. … The $350 billion combined company of AOL and Time Warner [in 2000] [was] more than 1,000 times [bigger than the biggest deal of 1983].
The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, Ben H. Bagdikian, Beacon Press, 2000, pp. xx—xxi
Six enormous media behemoths dominate the market today. The data in the chart below is largely taken from mediaowners.com. Only a small portion of the media companies that these six giants truly possess are shown in the chart below.
Home Box Office (HBO)
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
ABC Television Network
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Games
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Country Music Television (CMT)
Nick at Nite
The Movie Channel
Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
My Network TV
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
STAR TV India
STAR TV Taiwan
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands
CBS Television Network
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CW Network (50% ownership)
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network
NBC Television Network
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Studio Home Video
These gigantic media corporations do not exist to objectively tell the truth to the American people. Rather, the primary purpose of their existence is to make money.
These gigantic media corporations are not going to do anything to threaten their relationships with their biggest advertisers (such as the largest pharmaceutical companies that literally spend billions on advertising), and one way or another these gigantic media corporations are always going to express the ideological viewpoints of their owners.
Fortunately, an increasing number of Americans are starting to wake up and are realizing that the mainstream media should not be trusted. According to a new poll just released by Gallup, the number of Americans that have little to no trust in the mainstream media (57%) is at an all-time high.
That is one reason why we have seen the alternative media experience such rapid growth over the past few years. The mainstream media has been losing credibility at a staggering rate, and Americans are starting to look elsewhere for the truth about what is really going on.
Do you think that anyone in the mainstream news would actually tell you that the Federal Reserve is bad for America or that we are facing a horrific derivatives bubble that could destroy the entire world financial system? Do you think that anyone in the mainstream media would actually tell you the truth about the deindustrialization of America or the truth about the voracious greed of Goldman Sachs?
Sure there are a few courageous reporters in the mainstream media that manage to slip a few stories past their corporate bosses from time to time, but in general there is a very clear understanding that there are simply certain things that you just do not say in the mainstream news.
But Americans are becoming increasingly hungry for the truth, and they are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the dumbed down pablum that is passing as “hard hitting news” these days.
So what do you think about the state of the mainstream media? Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….