25 March 2012

Concentrated Media Ownership

Manufacturing Consent by Herman and Chomsky, 1988, Excerpts

Since 1990, a wave of massive deals and rapid globalization have left the media industries further centralized in nine transnational conglomerates – Disney, AOL Time Warner, Viacom [owner of CBS], News Corporation, Bertelsmann, General Electric [owner of NBC], Sony, AT&T-Liberty Media, and Vivendi Universal. These giants own all the world’s major film studios, TV networks, and music companies, and a sizable fraction of the most important cable channels, cable systems, magazines, major-market TV stations, and book publishers.

The large media companies are fully integrated into the market and the pressures of stockholders, directors, and bankers to focus on the bottom line are powerful. They are controlled by very wealthy people who are closely interlocked with other major corporations, banks, and government. The powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear, and think about, and to “manage” public opinion.

Advertisers choose selectively among programs on the basis of their own principles. Large corporate advertisers will rarely sponsor programs that engage in serious criticisms of corporate activities. Advertisers want to avoid programs with serious complexities and disturbing controversies that interfere with the “buying mood.” They seek programs that will lightly entertain and disseminate the selling message. The mass media are interested in attracting audiences with buying power.

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