In the united States, 5 corporations, headquartered greatly in brand-new York, regulate the majority of market share in the traditional media sector (television, radio, movies, books, music). While 5 corporations, headquartered greatly in California, control most sector share in the tech media industry (social media, web search, online distribution).

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These are by definition oligopolies: a market structure in which a small variety of firms stop a large majority of sector share. The oligopic framework of the classic media sector came about gradually end the last 40 year — it started in the 1980s, with the trend towards corporate ownership, and also concentration via mergers, which continues to this day. Oligopolies by your nature collude, crush competition, and rig supply, in stimulate to additional the revenues of the group. The complying with are estimates of the readjust in market structure over this period.

In 1983: 50 companies controlled 90% that the classic media industryBy 2013: 5 corporations regulated 70% of the industry

In understanding this market it is also important to keep in mind the legal structure of the media suppliers. The major players in both traditional media and also tech media space large corporations which profession publicly as members that the S&P500. Public corporations space state-chartered legal entities which by regulation must maximize profits to their shareholders (i.e. “shareholder primacy”), and are programmed with no other pertains to (such together stakeholder interests) — therefore all concerns other than temporary profit, must be subordinated. From here, government-granted limited liability protects them indigenous the repercussions of their pathological behavior.

The adhering to diagram illustrates the corporate-oligopoly structure the the traditional media and tech media industries.



The “big 5” traditional media conglomerates room 1) Fox Corp + News Corp, 2) Walt Disney Co, 3) Comcast Corp, 4) CBS Corp + Viacom Inc, 5) at & t Inc.

Note: Fox Corp and also News Corp are both managed by the Murdoch family. CBS and Viacom separation in 2005, but are both managed by the Redstone family, which likewise owns national Amusements. Verizon is a smaller player with less an important assets. The New York Times is a hugely influential player in the news industry, however not a conglomerate.

Regarding market share, the Wikipedia number the 90% is not realistic. I have done comprehensive calculations myself by examining the big-5’s financial statements; your revenue is about 70% the the full market size.

Why this firm Media Behaves as a Monolith

While the industry’s marketing quiet projects photo of “independent journalists,” one can’t help but notification the sector tends to behaves as a whole, through synchronized stories, and political attacks. The reasons for that mostly derive indigenous the industry’s structure…

I. Oligopolies by their nature collude and also offer homogenous product, in order come maximize profit. As soon as there is a little circle of companies they salary a the majority of attention to every other; calculating the most likely responses the the other players (game theory).

II. Corporations all share a typical internal structure; employees offer officers, who serve the board, that serve the maximization that shareholder return. Corporate employees have actually low autonomy, and high loyalty to industry profits.

III. Expenses are lowered, and profits maximized, when the market players work together to supply a homogeneous product (e.g. Typical narratives, through slight variation).

IV. Corporate conglomerate operations “trickle down” to small private companies. The huge players set the standards, and the market changes, i m sorry socially/economically pressures smaller players to take on the same type of work in stimulate to remain competitive.

V. Geographically concentrated headquarters cause groupthink. That the 16 parent corporations in the diagram, 12 are based in one of two people California or brand-new York. Only among the headquarters is located in a state that voted Republican in 2016.

VI. Political correctness controls behavior, and also is the strongest in exactly the cities whereby the media corporations are headquartered, which leads to more groupthink.

VII. Media corporations rental from the very same journalism/media schools, and discriminate in favor of left-wing ideology and Democratic Party affiliation, which leader to even more groupthink.

Corporate Media’s Purpose

I. Every corporations space programmed, by law, come maximize benefit to shareholders (a principle known as shareholder primacy). This is every corporation’s primary function, i beg your pardon subordinates all other interests. The visibility of shareholder primacy renders corporations incompatible with journalism, together the entity must constantly prioritize profit over truth, as soon as the two are not equivalent. And restricted liability is there to prevent corporations native being hosted accountable because that disseminating this disinformation.

II. Revenues to individual corporations room not important maximized, unless they cooperate come maximize the aggregate revenues of the corporate family (i.e. The S&P500). This entities all trade under a single ticker (e.g. The SPY fund, ES futures, SPX options), which create a common financial interest. A vital function of corporate media is to safeguard corporate understanding in general, and thus come maximize the price of the stock index, of which they space members. It wouldn’t be an reliable use of resources for a propaganda asset to exclusively serve it’s own profit; propaganda serves a master (e.g CNN serves its at & t parent, which in turn serves the S&P500).

III. Media corporations have ties to government as they space a state-chartered, through a dotted heat to the commonwealth government, and also thus have to follow “national security” and also other guidance. Government influence can be provided to push details agendas or for general social conditioning. Because the nation’s media is operation by just five corporations, it is less complicated to coordinate.

IV. Media corporations additionally use their influence to shape government (it’s a two method street), and society — they push corporate-friendly politics candidates, defame anti-corporate candidates, press social agendas, and defame people who speak versus their society agendas. The major objective is always the maximization of accumulation corporate profits.

V. Media companies also carry out services to the stakeholders. These services include news, entertainment, find results, society media platforms, etc. However, this is a secondary role (subordinate to profit maximization itself), and also once markets are cornered by an oligopoly or monopoly structure, football player are much less incentivized come take attention in stakeholder concerns.

Deteriorating windy Trust

Trust in the massive media peaked in 1976 in ~ 72%, and also has stability decreased because the 1980s, reaching an all-time low of 32% in 2016 (and 20% for papers specifically). Over the critical 40 years, media trust has presented a solid inverse correlation v corporate ownership, and also industry concentration (which is specifically what we would certainly expect, due to the fact that these legal-entity and also market forms proactively work against stakeholder/demand-side interests).




Media trust differs substantially by politics party affiliation. This provides sense as soon as you consider mass media is run virtually entirely out of brand-new York and also California, states which space ideologically far-left. However, that not just Republicans, yet independents too, that report diminish trust. In 2016 just 51% that Democrats, 30% the Independents, and also 14% that Republicans trust the media “a fair amount.” note in 2018 there to be a peculiar jump, Democrats moved from a short of 51% come a high the 75%.

Profits Increasing, regardless of Trust Decreasing

Profits of the classic media oligopoly to be $27 billion in 2016, up from $14 billion in 2011. This group is stood for by eight tickers, that profession on the NYSE/NASDAQ exchanges (FOXA, NWSA, DIS, CMCSA, CBS, VIAB, T, NYT).

Profits of the brand-new tech media oligopoly were $77 billion in 2016, increase from $37 exchange rate in 2011 (GOOGL, FB, TWTR, AAPL, AMZN).

Together these two oligopolies generate over $100 billion in yearly profit (note this are complete corporate profits, and also so also include non-media earnings).

Centralized strength to shape Societal Thinking

American adult spend 10 hours and 39 minutes per day consuming media. Of this, 4 hours and also 31 minutes is invested watching television (chart). This is an typical exposure because that the U.S. Adult population of 75 hrs per week, which offers the media sector incredible strength to affect thinking, and also behavior. This explains why part corporate media eight are permitted to repeatedly run at a ns — the power to influence the citizenry’s thinking and also behavior is an ext important 보다 the profits of an individual media brand. Long-game, social engineering can maximize aggregate S&P500 profits.

Understanding Today’s Media Industry

It is important to contact things what castle are, not what lock were, what us wish them come be, or what castle pretend to be. The fact is the American media sector no longer consists of 50 smaller sized companies competing with every other, and striving for public trust, as it walk in the 1970s. Now the market consists of five big corporations which manage 70% of traditional media, plus the brand-new tech media this firm giants.

There is nothing in corporate law that specifies these entities together “news organizations” and also incentives lock to the public goal. Rather the function of every corporation is to maximize profits, consisting of by exploiting negative externalities (i.e. Passing prices off come society). And also yet these shrewd profit-maximizing enterprise still usage the hatchet of the 1970s (e.g. “free press” and also “journalists”) as it gives credibility to their operations.

But because that the consumer of massive media, these terms space counterproductive to a reality-based expertise of the industry. Terms such as corporate media, corporate employees, and corporate propaganda dryly and accurately explain the sector without developing unrealistic expectation of it offer a public good.

This analysis from 2017, was updated April first 2019 for more mergers and also acquisitions (Disney acquisition of 21st Century Fox).


Concentration the media ownership, joined States. Wikipedia.

Americans’ trust in fixed Media sink to new Low. Gallup Poll (2016).

Americans’ confidence in U.S. Institutions, 2018. Gallup Poll (2018).

The full Audience Report. Nielsen (2016).

Noam, E. (2016). Who own the world’s Media?: Media Concentration and Ownership around the World. Oxford college Press.

Herman, E. & Chomsky, N. (1988). Production Consent. Pantheon.

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Financial analyst: 20yrs venture resources & that company world. Macro-level analyses on corporatism, oligopolies, externalities, media, U.S. Debt, and also East Asia.