Bigger Is Stronger: The Effects of media Consolidation

Avi Shorer

Throughout the past 30 odd years the vast majority of our media outlets have been bought by six major companies; News corp, Viacom, Comcast, Disney, Time Warner and CBS. Creators, employees and supporters of the media conglomerates say that this system is beneficial to everyone. They believe that unity between multiple separate media companies allows for more efficiency facilitating dialog between different points of view and bringing their results to the public. The bigger the company the bigger the audience. Furthermore, a large corporation has more resources that can be applied to each news story, movie, television or musical artist.

This belief is demonstrated by Fox news’s slogan “Fair and balanced.” Fox news is owned by a company called news corp. The CEO of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, demonstrates this slogan with shows featuring dialogue people between  two opposing views like Hannity and Colmes. Furthermore, one of their most prominent television personalities, Bill O’rielly, is the self proclaimed “Fairest guy on the planet.” However Fox does not claim to be objective news all day. “the weekday hours between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. (as well as 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) as “objective” coverage.” the rest is essentially the television equivalent of editorials. Having editorials after the fair and balanced news gives them a chance to interpreted the hard facts in order to form a more complete picture for the viewer. They maintain that the distinction between these time segments justifies the added commentary and that the opinions of the hosts displayed in the later half of the day are not presented to the audience as news.

Big media companies are very efficient.  “The merging of multiple media industries means double the resources. Money capabilities, equipment such as office supplies, cameras, audio equipment, and recorded data, and many other things are made accessible.” They are able to film entire movies in just months, get songs from the studio to the radio in the blink of an eye and bring you important news from across the world as it happens. The mass production of media keeps the public entertained with a constant stream of new music and films and allows them to stay informed about the events unfolding across the globe. Furthermore, big media companies are able to regulate all of their subsidiaries to insure the broadcast of consistent, relevant and accurate information to the entirety of their audience.  Before media consolidation, when media outlets were regional,  people only had access to the trends of local media.

The resources provided by large media companies are demonstrated by multi million dollar movie budgets and the fabrication of celebrities. Movies like Avatar which had a $425,000,000 budget or The Dark Knight Rises which had a $275,000,000 budget  these movies simply could not be made without the support of a media corporation. No independent movie company has ever had the resources to create a movies which such high production values. Disney can now take any child and turn them into an international sensation for years to come. You can see examples of this by tracking the history of uncountable celebrities such as Raven Symone, Miley Cyrus, Miranda Cosgrove, the Jonas Brothers and  Zac Efron. This new breed of celebrity is chosen and trained to be as entertaining, appealing and attractive to the general public as possible.

The Music plays a role in creating these celebrities as well. Clear Channel, a Viacom owned radio company owns 850 radio stations and over a 110 million listeners. They play popular songs more than eighty five times a day. This allows them to spread music that people like to hear and bring their artists to their entire audience. Many of the musical artists were created by the industry like the celebrities I mentioned earlier and a lot of these superstars are shared by both industries.

Raven Symone, for example, started her career in media at just three years old. Her first role was Olivia on the Cosby show in 1984. In the past 30 years she has been in 25 movies and 27 tv shows. Not only has she maintained an active film career but she has released eight music albums four of which are sound tracks to her movies. She Averages two productions a year between her movies, tv shows and music. No artist would be able to create such a large body of work without the collaboration facilitated by the major media companies.

Media is power. Seventy five percent of the worlds population is now subject to some form of media owned by News Corp.  Public perception is widely impacted by these media outlets, this means that Rupert Murdoch influences the majority of the world. In our research we found that eighty five percent of the partisan guests on Fox’s most prominent news shows are republican conservatives. Furthermore, a population survey of basic true or false questions about politics, economics and national policy found that the more likely someone is to watch fox news the more likely they are have confused perceptions about the government and support government authority according to the documentary “Out Foxed.” 94 percent of the people who use fox news as their main news source are republican and 40 percent of all republicans watch fox news regularly.

News Corp, Viacom, Comcast, Disney, Time Warner and CBS continue to grow by buying out independents. Each purchase or merger makes their reach more expansive and their voice more dominant. Liberals have now essentially deemed Fox news a propaganda channel. Further more, British parliament has deemed Rupert Murdoch not a fit person to run an international company. But, regardless of parliaments judgement, Rupert Murdoch remains CEO and News Corp is as powerful as ever. Mature consumers of the entertainment aspects of the media have become aware of the homoginy throughout the music and film industries. However the super stars are still extremely popular with Disney’s young fanbase.  If this continues it is likely that the entire world will someday have access to the benefits these companies have to offer. However, the influence the media has on viewers opinions can be used to manipulate the public. It is in everyone’s best interest to make an informed decision about who they get their information from.

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