Week 2: Business Impact of Media
By Tony Phan
Unbeknownst to many people, the media world is owned by only a handful of corporations. As seen from the textbook, during 1983, fifty companies controlled over had of the media outputs. To some, this number may already sound alarming, but to put that into perspective nowadays only six companies control the majority of Americas media output. Given this knowledge, I believe that we as media consumers actually have fewer choices than our predecessors. Even though we have hundreds sometimes thousands of choices when we turn on the TV, most of them is still owned by one of the six big companies. They are great with providing us with the illusion of choice. People from all walks of life can find a channel they like on TV, but they are being catered to by the same companies. Often times, when one of them buy out smaller companies, they like to keep the contents true to itself as much as possible, sometimes adding their own spin to programs which many people consider “agenda setting”. For example, Rupert Murdoch; owner of News Corporation, is known for being a conservative. When he bought the Journal, which was a neutral paper, many believed that he would apply his views to the paper, which he did not to the surprise of many people. It is tactics like these which gives people the illusion of choice.
To answer to who controls the media is like the old chicken and the egg adage. Often times, the media tells consumers what to think, and at the same time media outlets have to to listen to consumers and provide them with what they want. But ultimately I believe the media companies control the media. Sure they have to tailor their content to consumers needs, but they do so to also make them a profit. Channels that air commercials at specific times of the day would be a good example.
Even before this chapter, I knew that the media was owned by a handful of companies. I also knew that they sometimes act in unethical ways to earn a profit. This chapter gave me the details about all that. It didn’t really change the way I view the media business but it definitely validates my views.