Media Control and Us

By Luca Ferrieri

At any moment in time our mobile devices, computers and tablets can access a seemingly infinite number of documents ranging from articles from a newspaper in France to a new, independent video streaming on Hulu. You can watch ABC Disney to see the animated blockbuster Frozen, or turn to ESPN to catch the highlights of the the day’s sporting events. However, upon deeper examination, one thing becomes clear: the majority of what we are seeing on TV, in print or on the web can be traced back to one of six major conglomerates (Fox/News Corp, Comcast/NBCU, Google, Apple, among others). Remember what we know about what the media reports and shows typically will be things they can more easily relate to. An example of this would be the likelihood of a news station showing a story involving a more fair-skinned person over one of a darker complexion.

What controls these media giants? Simply put: Money. Those with the most money can greater control what airs. A perfect example – several journalists approached their stations about airing a story about Monsanto. As the story prepped for hitting the air on the news stations suddenly the station pulled it. Why? Monsanto spends hundreds of millions of dollars marketing and advertising products through these same stations. No network wants a multi-hundred-mullion dollar ad campaign pulled, right? As a result the story did not air. The owners of these large conglomerates also carry a great deal of clout in the ability to control their media. For example, if Disney produces a movie through one of their studios (Let’s go with Touchstone) they have not only the ability to play that movie again on their various stations such as ABC; this means that a company such as Disney, or Fox News, can control the production of the product in addition to the various channels they own and can show their product. Of course, the audience also plays a vital role in what gets played on television, or what scenes make it in to the final editing of movies. Ultimately, as Google co-founder Larry Page says “the user is not replaceable”. That meaning the way Google builds its search engine, and why Fox News focuses primarily on very conservative views, is because their research has shown that is what their viewers want.

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