Media Giants Expecting Growth Under New Administration
Author Ben Snyder
ABC news. ESPN sports. HBO original shows. Nickelodeon cartoons. Universal Pictures movies. There seems to be no end to televised options in America. Cable packages arrive with hundreds of channels and on-demand and streaming services have dramatically expanded the quantity of content available to viewers.
But if one looks behind the brands, a completely different landscape presents itself. In fact, six companies own 90% of the media content. ESPN, ABC, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm: all owned by Disney. HBO, Time, Warner Bros, CNN: all owned by Time Warner. The list goes on and on as summarized by the infographic below.
While this highly consolidated state of the media may appear to warrant action against their monopoly status, the companies in question currently have nothing to fear. The Trump administration advocates a hands-off economic policy including allowing more corporate mergers.
In response to this perspective, several companies have begun negotiations to buy up media companies. The LA Times reports that AT&T is already working to buy Time Warner Inc. and that Verizon is scoping out a deal with Charter Communications, a digital media company based in Connecticut.
For consumers this news may be a mixed bundle. Greater integration between cell service providers and online content may create a smoother experience. The huge sums of capital involved in media giants also ensures that plenty of funding exists to create more content (so everyone can look forward to plenty more sequels).
These benefits, however, come at a cost: companies controlling huge swathes of the market can restrict competition and charge higher prices. The complicated net of ownership brings into question the impartiality of the news as well. How can NBC report honestly about Comcast when they are a part of the same entity?
Whether or not media consolidation presents a danger to society, news readers and moviegoers alike should keep in mind the true source of their information.