A media conglomerate, media group or media institution is a company that owns large numbers of companies in various mass media such as television, radio, publishing, movies, and the Internet. Media conglomerates strive for policies that facilitate their control of the markets across the globe.
True monopolies have traditionally been most common in the newspaper business. Countless cities have just one daily, like Atlanta’s Journal-Constitution. More recently, cable systems operators have been subject to similar criticism. Far more common, however, are media markets that are oligopolies, which feature a few giant sellers of a product with each having a significant share of the market. In the mid- 2000s, for example, four global giants—Universal Music, Sony BMG, Warner Music, and EMI Group—accounted for over 80 percent of music sales in the United States and worldwide.
The Hollywood film has long dominated worldwide moviemaking, but recently local and national film industries have come under increasing pressure from the movie divisions of concentrated global enterprises. For example, the New York Times reported in October 1992 that the Indonesian film industry is losing the competion with American-made films for access to movie houses in Indonesia itself. Similar pressures are felt by indigenous film industries elsewhere in Asia and by television producers throughout the world. As a result, local talents are strangled and any hope of a mutual exchange of ideas is buried in a relentless one-way flood of U.S. information and entertainment goods.
the American philosophy of deregulation has become increasingly popular worldwide. This theory asserts that regulations holding certain media (mainly radio and television broadcasting, cable and television services) to a "public service" standard are no longer necessary because the public's needs for diversity of views and services will be met by the satisfaction of the public wants on a multiplicity of channels in an open marketplace.
in the United States, proposed deregulation of the telecommunications industry may allow companies to own previously prohibited combinations of media outlets in a single market - cable systems, TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers. At this writing, a conference committee of the House and Senate is hammering out legislation that could, among other things, raise the limit on how much of the TV viewing market can be controlled by a single company. If such a bill becomes law, people may believe they are getting a wide variety of news, but, in fact, variety may be threatened because much of what they learn will be controlled by a few large corporations.
Here, according to media critic Ben Bagdikian's 1992 book "The Media Monopoly," is the danger:
"Today the chief executive officers of the 23 corporations that control most of what Americans read and see can fit into an ordinary living room. Almost without exception they are economic conservatives. They can, if they wish, use control of their newspapers, broadcast stations, magazines, books, and movies to promote their own corporate values to the exclusion of others. When their corporate interest is at stake - in taxes, regulation, and anti-trust action - they use that power in their selection of news and in the private lobbying power peculiar to those who control the media image - or non-image - of politicians."
Just after World War II, four out of five U.S. newspapers were independently owned. By 1989, only one in five was not the property of a chain. In 1981, 20 corporations controlled most of the nation's 11,000 magazines. Only seven years later, the number shrank to three corporations.
while the Internet offers a great opportunity for a diversity of voices, a small handful of large companies control much of the Internet’s infrastructure and are trying to eliminate the principal of “net neutrality,” stifling the easy sharing of information. This would be bad for the Internet and the economic engine it has become, bad for the exchange of a diverse set of views, and bad for democracy.
Unfortunately, a few massive multinational media conglomerates control more and more of the sources of our information – including television networks, cable channels, publishing, radio, and the Internet. At the same time, one-third of America's independently-owned television stations have vanished since 1975, as have more than two-thirds of independently-owned newspapers.
Moreover, even as numbers of media outlets increase, the ownership is becoming ever more concentrated as mega mergers take hold. At the same time, vertical integration gives the big players even more avenues to cross-sell and cross-market their products for even more amazing profits. An effect of this though, is a reduction in diversity and depth of content that the public can get, while increasing the political and economic power of corporations and advertisers. An informed population is a crucial element to a functioning democracy yet these factors often work against this key requirement.
This concentration of ownership tends to reduce the diversity of media voices and puts great power in the hands of a few companies. As news outlets fall into the hands of large conglomerates with holdings in many industries, conflicts of interest inevitably interfere with newsgathering.