Posted by: jillkillsit | October 24, 2016

Major Media Market Monopolies, Oh My!

Shoemaker and Reese have written that “the ownership of media organizations has become larger and more centralized over time…” (p. 147).With the new, proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner, our media options could become even smaller.  Organizations used to be bound to owning one type of media only. With the Communications Act of 1997, however, organizations became free to own across media boundaries. Referencing the below chart, it is easy to see the implications of this giant merger. In 1983, ninety percent of all media was owned by fifty different organizations. That means fifty different sources of news, entertainment, etc. By 2012, after the passage of the Communications Act of 1997, ninety percent of all media was owned by six media organizations. That’s right, six. With the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, this number may grow even smaller.

The good news, as I see it, is that individuals have more power than ever at their fingertips to fill in the gaps left by major media market monopolies. For example, popular bloggers and Instagrammers are able to make their individual views known through self-publishing. Of course, if one company owns the entire internet (which may or may not happen in the future), self-publishing and access to information could be much more limited. That is the danger of huge media conglomerates. Eliminating competition is also a problem posed by these mergers. For me, this points out the need for continued individual journalism and activism – gatekeeping.

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