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 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[by whom?] whether media companies actually are unrelated.[vague] 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[to whom?] because, compared with similar companies[clarification needed], it isn't diverse. Therefore, the term media group may also be applied, however, it has not yet replaced the more traditional term.[2]

Examples by country

In the 2016 Forbes Global 2000 list, Comcast was America's largest media conglomerate in terms of revenue, with The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, CBS Corporation & Viacom (both are controlled by National Amusements through supervoting shares), and 21st Century Fox comprising the top six.[3][4]

In 1984, 50 independent media companies owned the majority of media interests within the United States. As of October 2017, there are only six big companies.[5]

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

The industry continued to shift towards deregulation with the signing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Signed by President Bill Clinton on February 8, 1996, it is considered by the FCC to be the "first major overhaul of telecommunications law in almost 62 years."[6] Now that the 40-station ownership cap was lifted, the radio industry experienced 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, the nation began to worry how it might negatively impact society at large. In the case of Minot, North Dakota,[7] 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, where nobody was apparently at the phones.

Between the years 2002 and 2006, the conglomerates only got bigger. As the FCC reviews media ownership rules, broadcasters petition for the elimination of all rules, while those who are against the decision cite the incident in Minot as how consolidation could be harmful. In 2005, top companies Verizon and MCI Inc. received approval to combine, while SBC Inc. acquired AT&T, respectively, giving the nation's premier communication company a global reach unmatched by any other.

As of 2017, 90% of the US's media is controlled by six companies- Comcast, Fox, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS.[8]

Like the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand[9] also experience the concentration of multiple media enterprises in a few companies. This concentration issue is an ongoing concern for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Australian Communications and Media Authority 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, Asahi Shimbun Company, Grupo Globo, Baidu, and Bertelsmann.[10]


Critics have accused the large media conglomerates of dominating the media and using unfair practices. 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.[11] These practices are also suspected of contributing to the merging of entertainment and news (sensationalism[12]) 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,[11] Americanization) and are frequently criticized by groups that perceive news organizations as being biased toward special interests of the owners.[11]

Because these conglomerates have so much power and influence, critics[who?] bring up the question of whether that amount of power is justifiable. It can and is easily abused. Some[who?] wonder if it's better to lessen the amount of conglomerates to reduce the likeliness of unfair practices.[11]

There is also the concern[weasel words] 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[ambiguous] and therefore less competition. This can result in the reduction of different points of view as well as vocalization about different issues.[13] There is also a lack of diversity as a majority of those in media[where?] are white, middle-class men. Their views are being shared disproportionately more than other groups, such as women and ethnic minorities[which?]. Women and minorities also have less ownership of media.[14] For example, 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.[15]

Notable examples

Comcast 21st Century Fox Walt Disney Co. National Amusements Time Warner Sony (Japan) Bertelsmann (Germany) Vivendi (France) Televisa (Mexico) Grupo Globo (Brazil) ABS-CBN (Philippines)
Movie production studio Universal Studios 20th Century Fox Walt Disney Studios, UTV Pictures (India) Paramount Pictures, CBS Films Warner Bros. Sony Pictures UFA StudioCanal Videocine Globo Filmes Star Cinema, Skylight Films
TV production Universal Television, Universal Cable Productions 20th Century Fox TV, Endemol Shine Group (NL JV) ABC Studios, It's a Laugh Productions, Disney Television Animation, Marvel Television Paramount Television, CBS Television Studios Warner Bros. Television, WB Animation, Cartoon Network Studios, Warner Horizon Television Sony Pictures Television (US) FremantleMedia (UK) Banijay Entertainment, Zodiak Media (26.2%) Estúdios Globo ABS-CBN Entertainment, Dreamscape Entertainment, Star Creatives TV
Theme park resorts Universal Parks & Resorts Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Parque Warner Madrid (Spain JV) KidZania Manila
Broadcast TV network NBC, Cozi TV,
Telemundo, TeleXitos
Fox, MyNetTV, Movies! (50%) ABC, LWN, Super RTL (50% DE) Disney Channel ((RU) DE) CBS, The CW (50%), Decades (JV) The CW (50%) GetTV (US) Buzzr (US)
RTL Group (LU)
Canal+ Group Canal de las Estrellas, Canal 5, Gala TV, FOROtv Rede Globo, Globosat (Brazil), Globo TV International ABS-CBN
Cable channels NBCUniversal Cable FX Networks, Nat Geo channels (73%) Disney Channels Worldwide, Freeform, A&E Networks (50%) Viacom Media Networks, Pop (50%), Showtime Networks Turner Broadcasting System, HBO Sony Pictures Television TV channels Televisa (Mexico) Creative Programs, ABS-CBN Global
News, business channels/
NBCUniversal News Group, Weather Channel (25%) Fox News, Fox Business ABC News, ABC News Radio CBS News CNN, HLN CNews GloboNews ABS-CBN News, ABS-CBN News Channel
National sports networks/
NBC Sports Group, NHL Network (15.6%) Fox Sports Media Group ESPN Inc. (80%) CBS Sports Turner Sports Sony ESPN (India) Canal Sport TDN SporTV ABS-CBN Sports, ABS-CBN Sports+Action
Back Lot Music Fox Music Disney Music Group Comedy Central Records, Nick Records, CBS Records WaterTower Music Sony Music Entertainment (US), Sony/ATV Music Publishing (US), EMI Music Publishing (UK, 38%) BMG Universal Music Group Som Livre Star Music
Publishing Marvel Comics, Disney Publishing Worldwide Simon & Schuster DC Comics Gruner + Jahr, Penguin Random House (US, UK 53%), Bertelsmann Printing Group Editorial Televisa, Intermex Editora Globo ABS-CBN Publishing
Internet Hulu (30%) MTV New Media, CBS Interactive, CNET Hulu (10%) Crackle, PlayStation Network, Sony Interactive Entertainment Dailymotion, Gameloft Comercio Más, Televisa Digital Globo.com ABS-CBN Digital Media
iVillage, Fandango (70%) Fox Sports Digital Media Disney Interactive Fandango (30%), Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
2015 Revenues (rank) US$74.510 billion[16]
(NBCUniversal: US$28.462B)
US$28.987 billion US$52.465 billion US$13.886 billion US$28.52 billion US$67.510 billion[17]
(Sony's pictures and music segments: US$13.768B)
US$18.812 billion US$11.811 billion US$4.666 billion R$16 billion (≈ US$5 billion) ₱41.630 billion (US$821.266 million)[18]

See also


  1. ^ Moglen, Eben, Michael Pertschuck, and Scott Sherman, (1999). "Editorials" (Nation, 269: 18). p. 12. ISSN 0027-8378
  2. ^ "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. 
  3. ^ "The World's Biggest Public Companies". Retrieved 18 September 2016. 
  4. ^ Finke, Nikki (April 16, 2013). "21st Century Fox Is Rupert Murdoch's Renamed Entertainment Giant "To Take Us Into Future"". Deadline.com. 
  5. ^ "Timeline". Moyers on America. PBS. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  6. ^ "Telecommunications Act of 1986". Federal Communications Commission. FCC. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  7. ^ Fisher, Marc. "Sounds Familiar for a Reason". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  8. ^ Lutz, Ashley. "These 6 Corporations Control 90% of the Media in America". Business Insider. Business Insider. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  9. ^ Hope, Wayne; Myllylahti, Merja. "Financialisation of Media Ownership in New Zealand". New Zealand Sociology, suppl. Special Issue on Inequality and Class in New Zealand. 28 (23). 
  10. ^ O'Reilly, Lara. "The 30 Biggest Media Companies in the World". Business Insider. 
  11. ^ a b c d Stoll, Mary Lyn (June 2006). "Infotainment and the Moral Obligations of the Multimedia Conglomerate". Journal of Business Ethics. 66 (2-3). 
  12. ^ Kenix, Linda Jean. "Independent Websites Not So Different from Group-Owned". Newspaper Research Journal. 35 (2). 
  13. ^ Shah, Anup. "Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership". Global Issues. 
  14. ^ Gamson, Joshua; Latteier, Pearl. "Do media monsters devour diversity?". 3 (3). 
  15. ^ "Diversity in Media Ownership". Free Press. Retrieved 11/6/17.  Check date values in: access-date= (help)
  16. ^ Including sales of Comcast's cable communications and networks businesses. Sales of NBCUniversal: US$28.462 billion (2015)
  17. ^ Including sales of Sony's electronics, game and financial services businesses. Sales of the Pictures and Music segments: US$13.768 billion (2015)
  18. ^ Rolando P. Valdueza (3 April 2017). SEC Form 17-A (Report). Philippine Stock Exchange.