Just six corporations own the vast majority of media outlets in the United States. Through years of relentless mergers, acquisitions and consolidations, a handful of corporations have been able to dominate most of what Americans read, see and hear on a daily basis.
Regardless of your position on the viability of the concentration of media ownership into fewer and fewer hands, it is an irrefutable fact that over the past few decades the corporations controlling the preponderance of American media have lessened considerably.
Walt Disney – or more specifically Disney Media Networks – controls a staggering amount of media outlets. In the field of motion pictures, they own Walt Disney Pictures (which includes Pixar Animation Studios), Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures. They then distribute these films through Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment while distributing soundtracks and original music under Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records.
They also own the entire ABC Television Network (which includes ABC Daytime, ABC Entertainment Group and ABC News), the Disney Channel, ABC Family, SOAPnet, 80% of ESPN (along with ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones, ESPN360, ESPN Mobile Properties, ESPN On Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV) and television distribution divisions of Disney-ABC Domestic Television and Disney-ABC ESPN Television.
Walt Disney also owns large shares of A&E Television Networks and Lifetime Entertainment Services, while ABC Television Network boasts over 200 affiliated stations which together reach 99% of American household televisions, and that isn’t even getting in to Walt Disney’s control of radio, publishing and other holdings.
News Corp., now infamous for the News International phone hacking scandal in the UK, owns Fox, MyNetworkTV and other stations totaling some 27 television stations in the United States alone, with Fox Television Stations reaching over 35% of American television homes with six duopolies in the top 10 television markets.
Fox International owns 120 channels around the globe while News Corp. also owns production and distribution companies like Fox Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Film Entertainment, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Blue Sky Studios, Fox 2000 Pictures and more on an international scale.
General Electric (GE) owns a 49% stake in NBC-Universal and NBC Networks (includes NBC News, NBC Sports, NBC Television, NBC Universal, CNBC, CNBC World (Arabia, India, Asia, Europe), MSNBC, Bravo, SyFy Channel, Telemundo, USA, Oxygen and more) along with 46 NBC affiliate stations and more stations internationally.
In the realm of film production and distribution, GE owns Universal Pictures, Focus Features, and Rogue Pictures with production agreements with more companies and distribution through Universal Studios Home Entertainment. They also control NBC.com, CNBC.com etc. along with Hulu.com (a News Corp. and NBC Universal joint venture) MSNBC.MSN.com and more.
Then comes Time Warner, the largest media conglomerate with the second highest revenue behind Disney, both of which have holdings which far exceed the space here and include a wide variety of industries including monopolies on cable service in some locations.
As with many of the other powerful media groups, Time Warner Inc. was formed with the merger of Warner Communications, Inc., Time Inc., and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and now encompasses a plethora of properties in television, the Internet (like AOL, CNN, TMZ, People.com, Moviefone, Advertising.com, NASCAR.com and more), film, publishing (including comic books and more than 150 magazines) along with marketing companies as well.
Viacom owns a massive amount of television properties including MTV Networks (and the many variants including MTV Networks International which operates in 160 nations), BET Networks, CMT, Comedy Central, Logo, Nickelodeon, Spike TV, TV Land, and VH1. They also control several film production companies under Paramount Pictures Corporation and a massive internet presence.
CBS Network consists of 30 stations and a 50% share of the CW Network, the other 50% belonging to Time Warner along with 130 radio stations, major book publishers like Simon & Shuster, prominent online holdings, CBS Outdoor and more.
The case against increased media conglomeration is a strong one with countless supporting factors, although many individuals seem to come to this conclusion naturally when seeing how the vast majority of the media they are exposed to come from just a few corporations, all of which have close relationships with each other.