Concentration in UK and Europe
Concentration in USA
Australian media is even more
highly concentrated than in most other parts of the world. In
the newspaper industry, for example, two media powerhouses Ñ Rupert
Murdoch's News Ltd. and the Fairfax Group Ñ own 10 of the 12 capital
city and national daily newspapers, controlling 88% of that circulation
in UK and Europe
Murdoch is just one instance of
the highly concentrated media in the UK where ownership is in
the hands of a few "proprietors with explicit conservative views."
About 80% of the press in Britain is controlled by only four corporations
and the situation is similar for broadcast media. Media owner
Robert Maxwell, until he died, was also an interventionist owner
who, according to Brian McNair, "boasted that his ownership of
national newspapers gave him the power 'to raise issues effectively.
In simple terms, it's a megaphone.'" McNair, author of News and
Journalism in the UK, argues that in Britain "the economic interests
and political preferences of the proprietor continue to be the
most important determinant of a news outlet's editorial line."
(McNair 1994, pp. 40-2)
The pattern of media concentration
in Australia and Britain is repeated in Europe, where Murdoch's
News International is only the 15th largest media conglomerate.
(Osler 1996, p. 11) Robert Hersant, imprisoned for collaborating
with the Nazis, owns newspapers whose combined circulations include
one third of France's readers of national papers and two fifths
of Poland's readers. In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi owns three television
channels and three pay TV channels as well as newspaper and magazines
Berlusconi used his media empire
to win political leadership in Italy but was forced out of government
in controversial circumstances. The trend in media ownership is
not only towards concentration within countries but also towards
the creation of 'global media empires' that include newspapers,
television stations, magazines, movie studios and publishing houses
(Gamson, et al. 1992, p. 378).
Media Concentration in
The majority of US media outlets
including newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books and
movies are controlled by less than twenty huge corporations (compared
with forty six in 1983) (Cohen and Solomon 1995, p. 2). "Ninety-eight
percent of U.S. cities have daily papers without competition.
Ten newspaper chains control almost half the daily newspaper circulation.
And even the remaining independently owned papers are dependent
on the wire services and generally follow the nation's newspapers
of record." (Ryan 1991, p. 119)
Mergers in the 1990s included
those of the CBS network with Westinghouse, of Capital Cities/ABC
with Disney, and of Ted Turner's media interests including CNN
with Time-Warner. The entry of Westinghouse into the television
world means that two of the major commercial networks are directly
affiliated with the nuclear industry as General Electric owns
television network NBC (Gunther 1995, p. 41).
Even cable television, which was
supposed to be a means of providing diversity to television content
has ended up becoming an interconnected network of channels, "most
of them owned by an interlocking set of a half-dozen or so giant
corporations" including Disney, Time Warner, and General Electric.
Those cable stations not connected to the big cable owners, like
the small independent TV and radio stations, need to be well funded
and often have corporate or wealthy conservative sponsors. (Littwin
1995, p. 14)
1996, 'Media and democracy:
hand in hand?', Current, Vol. 8380, No. February.
Brewster, Deborah, 1996, 'News
calls for media ownership deregulation', The Australian,
Cohen, Jeff and Norman Solomon,
1995, Through the Media Looking Glass: Decoding Bias and Blather
in the News (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).
Gamson, William A., David Croteau,
William Hoynes and Theodore Sasson, 1992, 'Media Images and the
Social Construction of Reality', Annual Review of Sociology,
Marc, 1995, All
in the Family, American
Journalism Review, October.
Littwin, Angela, 1995, 'The Interconnected
World of the Cable Oligopoly', Extra! Nov/Dec.
Robert W. 1999, The
New Global Media It's a Small World of Big Conglomerates,
The Nation, November 29.
Robert W. 1997, The
Global Media Giants The nine firms that dominate the world,
McNair, Brian, 1994, News and
Journalism in the UK (London and New York: Routledge).
Osler, Dave, 1996, 'Broadcasting
Bill Starts Media Merger Merry-Go-Round', Journalist, April/May.
Ryan, Charlotte, 1991, Prime
Time Activism: Media Strategies for Grassroots Organizing
(Boston, MA: South End Press).