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control increasing shares of the mass media. Contemporary research demonstrates increasing levels of consolidation, with many media industries already highly concentrated and dominated by a very small number of firms. Globally, large media conglomerates include Viacom, CBS Corporation, Time Warner, News Corp, Bertelsmann AG, Sony Corporation of America, NBCUniversal, Vivendi, Televisa, The Walt Disney Company, Hearst Corporation, Organizações Globo and Lagardère Group. As of 2010, The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the US, with News Corporation, Time Warner and Viacom ranking second, third and fourth respectively. In nations described as authoritarian by most international think-tanks and NGOs like Human Rights Watch (China, Cuba, Russia), media ownership is generally something very close to the complete state control over information in direct or indirect ways (see Gazprom Media). Mergers Media mergers are a result of one media related company buying another company for control of their resources in order
to increase revenues and viewership. As information and entertainment become a major part of our culture, media companies have been creating ways to become more efficient in reaching viewers and turning a profit. Successful media companies usually buy out other companies to make them more powerful, profitable, and able to reach a larger viewing audience. Media Mergers have become more prevalent in recent years, which has people wondering about the negative effects that could be caused by media ownership becoming more concentrated. Such negative effects that could come into play are lack of competition and diversity as well as biased political views. Media oligopoly An oligopoly is when a few firms dominate a market. When the larger scale media companies buy out the more smallerscaled or local companies they become more powerful within the market. As they continue to eliminate their business competition through buyouts or forcing them out (because they lack the resources or finances) the companies left dominate the media industry and create a media oligopoly. Elimination of net neutrality Net neutrality is also at stake when media mergers are occurring. Net neutrality involves a lack of restrictions on content on the internet, however, with big businesses
supporting campaigns financially they tend to have influence over political issues, which can translate into their mediums. These big businesses that also have control over internet usage or the airwaves could possibly make the content available biased from their political stand point or they could restrict usage for conflicting political views, therefore eliminating Net Neutrality. Debates and issues Concentration of media ownership is very frequently seen as a problem of contemporary media and society. When media ownership is concentrated in one or more of the ways mentioned above, a number of undesirable consequences follow, including the following: Commercially driven, ultra-powerful mass market media is primarily loyal to sponsors, i.e. advertisers and government rather than to the public interest. Only a few companies representing the interests of a minority elite control the public airwaves Healthy, market-based competition is absent, leading to slower innovation and increased prices. Diversity of viewpoints It is important to elaborate upon the issue of media consolidation and its effect upon the diversity of information
reaching a particular market. Critics of consolidation raise the issue of whether monopolistic or oligopolistic control of a local media market can be fully accountable and dependable in serving the public interest. Freedom of the press and editorial independence On the local end, reporters have often seen their stories refused or edited beyond recognition. An example would be the repeated refusal of networks to air "ads" from anti-war advocates to liberal groups like MoveOn.org, or religious groups like the United Church of Christ, regardless of factual basis. Journalists and their reports may be directly sponsored by parties who are the subject of their journalism leading to reports which actually favor the sponsor, have that appearance, or are simply a repetition of the sponsors opinion. Consequently, if the companies dominating a media market choose to suppress stories that do not serve their interests, the public suffers, since they are not adequately informed of some crucial issues that may affect them. Concern among academia rests in the notion that the purpose of the first amendment to the US constitution was to encourage a free press as political agitator evidenced by the famous quote from US President Thomas Jefferson, "The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The
agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." . Freedom of the press has long been combated by large media companies, but their objections have just as long been dismissed by the supreme courts. Deregulation One explanation for the cause of the concentration of media ownership is a shift to neoliberal deregulation policies, which is a market-driven approach. Deregulation effectively removes governmental barriers to allow for the commercial exploitation of media. Motivation for media firms to merge includes increased profit-margins, reduced risk and maintaining a competitive edge. In contrast to this, those who support deregulation have argued that cultural trade barriers and regulations harm consumers and domestic support in the form of subsidies hinders countries to develop their own strong media firms. The opening of borders is more beneficial to countries than maintaining protectionist regulations. Critics of media deregulation and the resulting concentration of ownership fear that such trends will only continue to reduce the diversity of information provided, as well as to reduce the accountability of information providers to the public. The ultimate consequence of consolidation, critics argue, is a poorly informed public, restricted to a reduced array of media options
that offer only information that does not harm the media oligopoly's growing range of interests. For those critics, media deregulation is a dangerous trend, facilitating an increase in concentration of media ownership, and subsequently reducing the overall quality and diversity of information communicated through major media channels. Increased concentration of media ownership can lead to the censorship of a wide range of critical thought. Other Another concern is that consolidated media is not flexible enough to serve local communities in case of emergency. This happened in Minot, North Dakota, in 2002, after a train filled with anhydrous ammonia derailed (see Minot train derailment). None of the leading radio stations in Minot carried information on the derailment or evacuation procedures, largely because they were all owned by Clear Channel Communications and received automated feeds from the corporate headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. 1600 people were injured and one died unreliable source?]
Determinants of media pluralism
Size and wealth of the market “Within any free market economy, the level of resources available for the provision of media will be constrained principally by the size and wealth of that economy, and the propensity of its inhabitants to consume media.” [Gillian Doyle; 2002:15] Those countries that have a relatively large market, like the United Kingdom, France or Spain have more financial background to support diversity of output and have the ability to keep more media companies in the market (as they are there to make profit). More diverse output and fragmented ownership will, obviously, support pluralism. In contrast, small markets like Ireland or Hungary suffer from the absence of the diversity of output given in countries with bigger markets. It means that “support for the media through direct payment” and “levels of consumers expenditure”, furthermore “the availability of advertising support” [Gillian Doyle; 2002:15] are less in these countries, due to the low number of audience. Overall, the size and wealth of the market determine the diversity of both media output and media ownership.
Diversity of suppliers/owners From the previous paragraph can be assumed that size/wealth of the market have a very strong relation to the diversity of supplier. If the first is not given (wealthy market) then it is
difficult to achieve fragmented supplier system. Diversity of suppliers refers to those heterogeneous independent organizations that are involved in media production and to the common ownership as well. The more various suppliers there are, the better for pluralism is. However, “the more powerful individual suppliers become, the greater the potential threat to pluralism.”
Consolidation of resources The consolidation of cost functions and cost-sharing. Costsharing is a common practice in monomedia and cross media. For example, “for multi-product television or radio broadcasters, the more homogeneity possible between different services held in common ownership (or the more elements within a programme schedule which can be shared between ’different’ stations), the greater the opportunity to reap economies.” [verification needed] Though the main concern of pluralism is that different organization under different ownership may buy the same e.g. news stories from the same news-supplier agency. In the UK, the biggest newssupplier is The Press Association (PA). Here is a quoted text from PA web site: “The Press Association supplies services to every national and regional daily newspaper, major broadcasters, online publishers and a wide range of commercial
organisations.” Overall, in a system where all different media organizations gather their stories from the same source, then we can’t really call that system pluralist. That is where diversity of output comes in.