Essay On Media Conglomeration
In recent years critics of the concentration of media ownership and conglomeration have become increasingly more concerned about whether they are a threat to democracy. These media companies’ ownership has slowly gone to fewer hands through mergers, buyouts, etc. According to “Introduction to Mass Communication,” Media observer Ben Bagdikian reported that in 1997 the number of media corporations with “dominant power in society” was 10.”(Baran 35). Today it is no longer “The Big Ten”; it is now “The Big Six,” and those companies are Disney, Comcast, News Corp, Viacom, CBS, and Time Warner.
In the documentary “Rich Media, Poor Democracy,” Robert McChesney states,” This sort of boom in media is supposed to lead to a blossoming political culture, a garden place of ideas in which the truth will win out, and we’ll have a healthy vibrant political democracy. This boom in media, commercial media at the hands of large corporations and advertisers, had lead to a shriveling and dilapidation of our democracy.”(“Rich Media, Poor Democracy - How Journalism Is Compromised by Corporations”). The First Amendment gives us freedom of speech and press, and democracy allows us the freedom of information from a diversity of viewpoints. However, when these giant corporations get their hands on these companies, they control all information distributed from their companies, limiting the initial goal of wanting a variety of voices in a free press. An example can be found in PBS NEWS HOUR interview with David Folkenflik, where he talks about why the president might have talked to Rupert Murdoch the day before the deal was announced. In the interview, Folkenflik states,“ Trump’s real concern is somehow Rupert wouldn’t be controlling Fox News… That’s the source of his concern because Fox News in some ways has served not only as a cheerleader but an enforcer and as a message creator for the president.”(“How Would Disney-FoxMerger Affect What We Watch?” 03:15-05:21). Moreover, nobody knows the real reason these corporations are doing this. In “Introduction to Mass Communication,” the question asked is,” And what is never discussed about this is, What is the goal of these major media conglomerates? Is it to educate the American people? Is it to give the five sides of the issue? No. Their function as major media conglomerates, owned by very large financial interests, is to make as much money as they possibly can. ... (in Smiley, 2016)“(Baran 35).
I agree; it is very concerning the power that major media corporations have. These companies have the power to control where, when, and how much we have to pay for their content after buying out the smaller businesses. Not to mention the concerns of when they globalize their companies, for example, that the content would be tailored to a vast global audience. In Baran’s “Introduction to Mass Communication,” another concern is talked about briefly in the form of a question the question states, “Will distant, anonymous, foreign corporations, each with vast holdings in a variety of nonmedia businesses, use their power to shape news and entertainment content to suit their own ends?”(Baran 37)
In short, critics of the concentration of media ownership and conglomeration have become increasingly more concerned about whether they are a threat to democracy. They are worried about the information distributed by these corporations, their real intentions, and how that would affect content targeted audiences.