Media conglomerate

A media conglomerate, media group, or media institution is a company that owns numerous companies involved in mass media enterprises, such as television, radio, publishing, motion pictures, theme parks, or the Internet. According to the magazine The Nation, "Media conglomerates strive for policies that facilitate their control of the markets around the world."[1]


A conglomerate is a large company composed of a number of smaller companies (subsidiaries) engaged in generally unrelated businesses.

Starting in 2007, it has been questioned[2] if media companies actually are related. Some media conglomerates use their access in multiple areas to share various kinds of content such as: news, video and music, between users. The media sector's tendency to consolidate has caused formerly diversified companies to appear less diverse in comparison with similar companies. Therefore, the term media group may also be applied, however, it has not yet replaced the more traditional term.[3]

Examples by country

In the 2018 Forbes Global 2000 list, Comcast was America's largest media conglomerate in terms of revenue, with The Walt Disney Company, AT&T, CBS Corporation and Viacom (both are controlled by National Amusements through supervoting shares) completing the top five.[4][5]

In 1984, fifty independent media companies owned the majority of media interests within the United States. As of 2019, 90% of the United States's media is controlled by four media conglomerates: Comcast (via NBCUniversal), Disney, ViacomCBS (controlled by National Amusements), and AT&T (via WarnerMedia).[6][7]

Between 1941 and 1975, several laws that restricted channel ownership within radio and television were enacted in order to maintain unbiased and diverse media. However under the Reagan administration, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission, then led by FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler, began a concerted deregulation over the years 1981 and 1985. The number of television stations a single entity can own increased from seven to 12 stations.

The industry continued to deregulate with enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Signed by President Bill Clinton on February 8, 1996, it was considered by the FCC to be the "first major overhaul of telecommunications law in almost 62 years".[8] In the radio industry, the 40-station ownership cap was lifted, leading to an unprecedented amount of consolidation. Since this period, Clear Channel Communications grew from 40 stations to 1200 stations, in all 50 states, while Viacom grew to owning 180 stations across 41 markets.

As media consolidation grew, some in the nation began to speculate how it might negatively impact society at large. In the case of Minot, North Dakota,[9] the concerns regarding media consolidation is realized. On January 18, 2002, a train containing hazardous chemicals derailed in the middle of the night, exposing countless Minot residents to toxic waste. Upon trying to get out an emergency broadcast, the Minot police were unable to reach anyone. They were instead forwarded to the same automated message, as all the broadcast stations in Minot were single-handedly owned by Clear Channel Communications. As the FCC reviews media ownership rules, broadcasters continued to petition it for the elimination of all rules, while those who are against this easing would often cite the incident in Minot as how consolidation could be harmful.

Between the years 2002 and 2006, the conglomerates expanded. In 2005, top companies Verizon and MCI Inc. received approval to combine, while SBC acquired AT&T Corporation, respectively, giving the nation's premier communication company a global reach unmatched by any other.

Like the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand[10] also experience the concentration of multiple media enterprises in a few companies. This concentration is an ongoing concern for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Philippine National Telecommunications Commission, and New Zealand's Broadcasting Standards Authority. Other countries that have large media conglomerates with impacts on the world include: Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, China, and Brazil. Media conglomerates outside of the United States include Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, ProSiebanSat.1, Hubert Burda Meda, Fuji Media Holdings, ITV, Mediaset, Axel Springer, JCDecaux, China Central Television, ABS-CBN Corporation, GMA Network, Inc., Asahi Shimbun Company, Grupo Globo, Baidu, and Bertelsmann.[11]

United States

Comcast Walt Disney Co. ViacomCBS AT&T Access Industries[12] Discovery, Inc. Hasbro
Movie production Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Walt Disney Studios, UTV Motion Pictures (India) Paramount Motion Pictures Group Warner Bros. Pictures Group AI Film (UK), RatPac-Dune Entertainment (controlling stake[13]), Access Entertainment (US) Lionsgate Films (3%) Allspark Pictures
TV production NBCUniversal Content Studios, Sky Studios, DWA Television Disney TV Studios, It's a Laugh Productions, Disney TV Animation, FX Productions, Freeform Productions, Marvel TV Paramount Television, Nickelodeon Animation Studio, CBS Films, CBS TV Studios WB TV Group, WB Animation, WBITVP, Cartoon Network Studios Amedia (majority stake[14]) (RU) Discovery Studios, All3Media (50%), Lionsgate Television (3%) Allspark, Allspark Animation (US); Boulder Media (IE)
Broadcast TV network NBC, Cozi TV, Sky,
Telemundo, TeleXitos
ABC, LWN (US); Super RTL (50%), RTL2 (15.75% DE) CBS, The CW (50%), Decades (JV) Chilevision, The CW (50%) R.G.E. Group (33%[15]) (IL) Discovery Networks U.S., Discovery Networks International
Cable channels NBCUniversal Cable, Sky Disney Channels, UTV net, A&E Networks (50%), Fox Nets Group, Freeform, FX Networks, NatGeo Net (73%) Viacom Media Networks, Pop, Showtime Networks TBS, TNT, TruTV, Cartoon Network, HBO Discovery Family (40%)
News, business channels/
NBCUniversal News Group, Sky News ABC News, ABC News Radio CBS News, CBSN CNN, HLN
National sports networks/
NBC Sports Group, Sky Sports, NHL Network (15.6%) ESPN Inc. (80%) CBS Sports Turner Sports, AT&T SportsNet, MLB Network (16%), NBA TV Sports Channel (IL) Eurosport (Europe), DSport (India)
Back Lot Music ABC Audio, Disney Music Group, Fox Music, Marvel New Media, Radio Disney Comedy Central Records, Nick Records, CBS Records WaterTower Music Warner Music Group
Publishing Marvel Comics, National Geographic (73%), Disney Publishing Worldwide Simon & Schuster DC Comics, MAD Magazine Golf Digest, Golf World; Motor Trend Group (joint-venture)
OTT Peacock, Now TV, Sky Go Disney+, Hulu,[lower-alpha 1] ESPN+, Hotstar, Marvel Unlimited Pluto TV, BET+, Noggin, CBS All Access, Showtime HBO Max, AT&T TV Now, HBO Now, DC Universe, Boomerang, Crunchyroll, DAZN (85%[17][18]) GolfTV
Internet Fandango (70%) Disney Online, Disney Digital Network MTV New Media, CNET Fandango (30%), Otter Media Deezer Group Nine Media (35%)
Telecommunications Xfinity, Sky Broadband AT&T Communications ICE Group
Video games Universal Brand Development Disney Games and Interactive Experiences, Marvel Games, LucasArts Paramount Digital Entertainment Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Rooster Teeth Games
2018 Revenues NBCUniversal: US$33 billion[19]
US$59.4 billion[20] Viacom: US$13 billion[21]
CBS Corporation: US$14.5 billion[22]
WarnerMedia: US$31.5 billion[23] US$17 billion US$10.6 billion[24] US$4.7 billion[25]


  1. Although Hulu is now fully controlled by Disney after Comcast relinquished its control, Comcast still owned 33% stakes of Hulu as a silent partner with their agreement for Disney to purchase the ownership stakes of Comcast in Hulu by 2024.[16]


Sony (Japan) Bertelsmann (Germany) Vivendi (France) Liberty Global (UK/US/NL) CT Corp (Indonesia) Televisa (Mexico) Grupo Globo (Brazil) ABS-CBN (Philippines) The Times Group (India)
Movie production Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan (Japan) UFA Eagle Rock Entertainment (UK), StudioCanal (FR), Polygram (US) Lionsgate Films (US, 3.5%) Transinema Pictures Videocine Globo Filmes Star Cinema, Skylight Films Mirchi Movies Limited, Junglee Pictures Limited
TV production Sony Pictures Television (US), Syco (US & UK) Fremantle (UK) Banijay Entertainment, Zodiak Media (26.2%), Endemol, Endemol Shine Group All3Media (UK, 50%), Lionsgate Television (US, 3.5%) Estúdios Globo ABS-CBN Entertainment, Dreamscape Entertainment, Star Creatives TV Metropolitan Media Company Limited
Broadcast TV network GetTV (US) Buzzr (US)
RTL Group (LU)
Canal+ Group Telenet (BE, 58%), Ziggo (NL, 50%), ITV plc (UK, minority) Trans TV, Trans7 Canal de las Estrellas, Canal 5, Gala TV, FOROtv Rede Globo, Globosat (Brazil), Globo TV International ABS-CBN Times Global Broadcasting and Zoom Entertainment Network
Cable channels Sony Pictures Television Networks SBS-in (JV) Televisa Networks Creative Programs, ABS-CBN Global Times Music, Movies Now, Romedy Now
News, business channels/
CNews CNN Indonesia (JV) GloboNews ABS-CBN News, ABS-CBN News Channel ET Now, Lead India, Mirror Now, Times Now
National sports networks/
Sony ESPN (India) Sports Channel (IL) Canal Sport Ziggo Sport (NL, 50%) Golf Channel Indonesia (JV), Golf+ TDN SporTV ABS-CBN Sports, ABS-CBN Sports+Action
Sony Music Group (US), EMI Music Publishing (UK, 38%), Sony Music Entertainment Japan (Japan) BMG Universal Music Group SM Entertainment Indonesia, Trans Talent Management Som Livre Star Music Zoom, Radio Mirchi
Publishing Gruner + Jahr, Penguin Random House (US, UK 53%), Bertelsmann Printing Group Editis Editorial Televisa, Intermex Editora Globo ABS-CBN Publishing The Times of India, The Economic Times, Navbharat Times, The Illustrated Weekly of India
OTT Crackle, PlayStation Vue, FunimationNow Blim iWant, Sky On Demand
Internet Dailymotion detik Network Comercio Más, Televisa Digital ABS-CBN Digital Media, CricBuzz, TimesJobs, SimplyMarry, MagicBricks, ZigWheels
Telecommunications Sony Mobile, So-net UPC Broadband (Europe), Virgin Media (UK), Telenet (Belgium) (58%), Vodafone Netherlands (50%) ABS-CBN Convergence (68%), Sky Cable Corporation (59.4%)
Video games Sony Interactive Entertainment, Unties Gameloft, Good Catch ABS-CBN Multimedia
2018 Revenues Sony Entertainment: US$15.1 billion[26][27][28] US$20.30 billion €14 billion US$12 billion Trans Corp: US$207.6 million US$4.81 billion[29] US$4.4 billion US$760 million US$1.5 billion (2016)[30]


Critics have accused the large media conglomerates of dominating the media and using unfair practices. During a protest in November 2007, critics such as Jesse Jackson spoke out against consolidation of the media.[2] This can be seen in the news industry, where corporations refuse to publicize information that would be harmful to their interests. Because some corporations do not publish any material that criticizes them or their interests, media conglomerates have been criticized for limiting free speech or not protecting free speech.[31] These practices are also suspected of contributing to the merging of entertainment and news (sensationalism[32]) at the expense of the coverage of serious issues. They are also accused of being a leading force behind the standardization of culture (see globalization,[31] Americanization) and are frequently criticized by groups that perceive news organizations as being biased toward special interests of the owners.[31]

Because these conglomerates have so much power and influence, critics bring up the question of whether that amount of power is justifiable. It can and is easily abused. Some wonder if it's better to lessen the amount of conglomerates to reduce the likeliness of unfair practices.[31]

There is also criticism that the concentration of media ownership reduces diversity in both ownership and programming of TV shows and radio programs. Because there are fewer independent media, there is less diversity in news and entertainment and therefore less competition. This can result in the reduction of different points of view as well as vocalization about different issues.[33] There is also a lack of ethnic and gender diversity as a majority of those in media are white, middle-class men. There is a concern that their views are being shared disproportionately more than other groups, such as women and ethnic minorities.[34] Women and minorities also have less ownership of media.[34] Women have less than 7 percent of TV and radio licenses, and minorities have around 7 percent of radio licenses and 3 percent of TV licenses.[35]

See also


  1. Moglen, Eben, Michael Pertschuck, and Scott Sherman, (1999). "Editorials" (Nation, 269: 18). p. 12. ISSN 0027-8378
  2. "Critics Turn Out To Protest Media Consolidation". The Washington Post and Times-Herald. 2007-11-01. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  3. "A distinction between Business Groups and Conglomerates:The Limited Liability Effect". SSRN Electronic Journal 01/2009; DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.134299. 2009-01-01. Archived from the original on 2016-02-16. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  4. "The World's Biggest Public Companies". Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  5. Finke, Nikki (April 16, 2013). "21st Century Fox Is Rupert Murdoch's Renamed Entertainment Giant "To Take Us Into Future"". Deadline Hollywood.
  6. Lutz, Ashley. "These 6 Corporations Control 90% of the Media in America". Business Insider. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  7. "Timeline". Moyers on America. PBS. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  8. "Telecommunications Act of 1986". Federal Communications Commission. FCC. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  9. Fisher, Marc. "Sounds Familiar for a Reason". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  10. Hope, Wayne; Myllylahti, Merja. "Financialisation of Media Ownership in New Zealand". New Zealand Sociology. 28 (3).
  11. O'Reilly, Lara. "The 30 Biggest Media Companies in the World". Business Insider.
  12. "Holdings by Industry". Access Industries. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  13. Hipes, Patrick (18 April 2017). "Len Blavatnik's Access Acquires RatPac Entertainment Stake". Deadline.
  14. "Amedia | Access Industries".
  15. "Blavatnik Increases Stake in RGE Media Group". Haaretz. 30 April 2010.
  16. Sherman, Lauren Feiner,Christine Wang,Alex (2019-05-14). "Disney to take full control over Hulu, Comcast has option to sell its stake in 5 years". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  17. Williams, Christopher (20 August 2016). "Blavatnik's Perform Group rebuffs tech investors to build 'Netflix for sport'". The Telegraph.
  18. "Perform | Access Industries".
  19. "NBCUniversal's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and Acquisitions". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  20. "Disney's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and Acquisitions". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  21. "Viacom's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and Acquisitions". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  22. "CBS's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  23. "Warner Media's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and Acquisitions". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  24. Discovery, Inc. 2018 10-K (PDF) (Report). p. 39.
  25. "Hasbro's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and Acquisitions". Retrieved 2019-09-02.
  26. "Sony Pictures's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and Acquisitions". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  27. "Sony/ATV's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and Acquisitions". Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  28. "Sony Music's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and Acquisitions". Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  29. "Grupo Televisa, S.A.B. (TV)". Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  30. "The BCCL empire—towering over the competition". Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  31. Stoll, Mary Lyn (June 2006). "Infotainment and the Moral Obligations of the Multimedia Conglomerate". Journal of Business Ethics. 66 (2–3).
  32. Kenix, Linda Jean. "Independent Websites Not So Different from Group-Owned". Newspaper Research Journal. 35 (2).
  33. Shah, Anup. "Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership". Global Issues.
  34. Gamson, Joshua; Latteier, Pearl. "Do media monsters devour diversity?". 3 (3). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  35. "Diversity in Media Ownership". Free Press. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
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