Tag Archives: conglomerate

Regulating Ownership of Network Programming: The Rise of Major Media Conglomerates

Category: Ownership & Control

Issue: Regulating Ownership of Network Programming

Originally, the FCC’s fin-syn system was implemented in 1970, which was the FCC’s financial interest and syndication rules for the regulation of ownership and control of television programming.  These fin-syn regulations were enacted to limit the “ability of the 3 major TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) to acquire financial interests or syndication rights in the television programming” as well as “to limit network control over television programming and thereby encourage the development of a diversity of programs through diverse sources of program services. (FCC 1995)” (Croteau & Hoynes 87).

However, in 1993 the U.S. district court ruled in favor of relaxing the fin-syn regulations so that the networks were not subject to these regulations because the competition between cable stations and the materialization of new networks prevented the large media conglomerates from monopolizing production and syndication (Croteau & Hoynes 87).  The U.S. district courts ruled this way because of the new changes in technology that started happening in the early to mid 1990’s.

Now, networks can acquire financial interests in and syndication rights to all network programming. This encouraged vertical integration; networks turned to studios that they owned or their corporate partners owned to produce more of their programming.  The large media conglomerates argued that “monopolistic control is no longer possible because we live in a diverse world with many options” (Croteau & Hoynes 88).  However, this is not the case.

By relaxing the old fin-syn regulations, major media conglomerates that owned many media outlets flourished, especially those that owned their own studios.  Independent and smaller media producers were constrained and even harmed by the relaxation of the old fin-syn regulations.  This is because major media conglomerates, like ABC, NBC, Fox, and CW were able to produce 90% of the series on major networks as well as being able to have financial interests in half of all of the prime-time programming. (Croteau & Hoynes 88).

The main debate between structure and agency in this case is that the “structure that protects the media industry’s copyright claims also constrained it’s ability to produce and resell its products” (Croteau & Hoynes 88). While “the agency of the media industry is seen in its ability to promote changes that favored the major networks” (Croteau & Hoynes 88).  Basically this debate between structure and agency in this case is that the same regulatory structure that protected the media industry copyright laws made it harder for those media industries to produce and sell its products while the actions of the media industry started to create regulations to favor the larger media conglomerates.

The regulation in question is the FCC’s fin-syn regulation, which was uplifted in 1993, which ruled that networks were not subject to this regulation anymore because of the new advancements in technology.  If the regulation was written in favor of the ‘other side,’ which in this case would be independent and smaller media producers, then more small and independent networks would still have the ability to make independent TV and cable stations.  The smaller networks would then have a equal chance against the large conglomerates networks that take up a lot of the prime-time programming slots because it does not cost as much for them. This is because the major media conglomerate vertically integrated with their studios, that either they owned or that their corporate partners owned, to produce more of their programming.

A suggestion I have for altering the regulation to improve them would be to go back to something similar to the FCC’s fin-syn system because the FCC’s fin-syn system initially imposed constraints on networks (mainly large media networks) so they could not monopolize or oligopolize network programming.  My recommendation is to impose a regulation that does not allow network companies, large or small, to acquire all financial interests and syndication rights to all network programming.  This would make the large media conglomerates not be able to use their own or their partners’ studios to produce more of their programming, which would require the large media conglomerates to pay another studio to produce their programming.  I think that this would not necessarily equal the playing field of network programming between small and large networks because the major media conglomerates already have a lot of money, so they are probably still able to take up a lot of the networking and prime-time slots, while the small and independent media producers were harmed from the inaction of the fin-syn regulations, and probably can not afford to show their programming in prime-time slots.  However it would give the small or independent media producers a higher chance of being able to get their programming on television, and therefore steadily making more money so that they can compete for TV time slots.

Source Cited:

Croteau, D. & Hoynes, W. (2014). Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences. Thousand Oaks, California. SAGE Publications.

Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA

Bertelsmann is a multinational media conglomerate.  Bertelsmann operates in 50 countries, and its headquarters are in Germany.  Its principle divisions include Penguin Random House, RTL Group, Gruner + Jahr, Arvato, Be Printers, and BMG.

Penguin Random House  is the world’s largest general interest trade book publishing company.

RTL Group is Europe’s biggest broadcaster of radio and television, which is also the parent to the FremantleMedia movie and TV production enterprise, the largest of its kind outside Hollywood.

Gruner + Jahr is one of the biggest magazine publishing houses in Europe.

Arvato is an international media and communications service provider.

Be Printers is an international group of companies offering printing solutions and communications services.

BMG is an international music company focused on the management of music publishing and recording rights.  BMG is the fourth-largest music publisher in the world, based on revenue.

Bertelsmann is a media conglomerate that employs Vertical Integration, which is evident considering its holdings primarily deal with the media, including book publishing, broadcasting tv and radio stations, magazine publishing, a media and communications provider, and a printing solutions firm.  BMG could be considered a horizontal integration, because it has to do with music and not the media industry.  Bertelsmann’s strategy is all about creativity and creating an environment that fosters innovation.  According to their CEO, Thomas Rabe, “Creativity is the foundation of all our businesses, the centerpiece of our value creation. We will therefore continue to invest in and expand our creative businesses.” Another part of their strategy is to aspire to be part of the digitization of media outlets, including watching tv on tablets, using e-readers, and reading magazines through their apps.  They way people consume news has drastically evolved over the past decade, making this point a priority for Bertelsmann.  Bertelsmann plans to continue growing and expanding their reach and influence.  Purchasing BMG Rights Management was a step in that direction.  In just four and a half years, BMG is  the world’s fourth-largest music publisher, with the rights to more than a million songs.  Bertelsmann plans to grow into the education industry, the booming e-commerce business, and integrated financial services, as well as the IT and high-tech sector. Bertelsmann also plans to expand geographically, to South America, India and China.

Although Bertelsmann is a multinational company, I haven’t heard of any of the media outlets.  However, Bertelsmann is more of a European company.  They have similar European television shows that are also showed in the US, such as The Price is Right and Idol.  Bertelsmann is in the top 10 for World’s Largest Media Conglomerates, but I had never heard of them before, which is surprising. However, this probably has to due with the fact that it’s a European company.

For more info on the specific tv and radio stations, magazines and newspapers, check out http://www.cjr.org/resources/?c=bertelsmann




Time Warner Inc.

Time Warner is a large multinational media corporation. The company was founded in 1990 as Time Warner and is now the world’s second largest media and entertainment conglomerate (behind The Walt Disney Company). Time Warner was spawned from a merger of two companies, Warner Communications, Inc. and Time Inc. Since then Time Warner has amassed a huge network of companies all funneling money to this mass media corporation.

Ownership Map

Below is a list of the major divisions of Time Warner. They also show some of the major companies owned by these various divisions. If you are looking for a more detailed map click HERE.

  • Owning’s
    • Time Warner Global Media Group
    • Time Inc.
      • Golf Magazine
      • InStyle
      • Money
      • Sports Illustrated
      • Time
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment
    • DC Entertainment
    • Flixster
    • New Line Cinema
    • Warner Bros. Studio
  • Turner Broadcasting System
    • Adult Swim
    • Cartoon Network (Worldwide)
    • CNN
    • TBS
    • TCM (Worldwide)
  • HBO
    • HBO
    • Cinemax
    • MAX
    • @ Max

Time Warner seems to concentrate a lot of its focus on both the TV and Film side of media as well as magazines. They are actually number one in total magazine circulation with about 32,582,300 magazines in circulation all over the world. They are also number two in cable news viewership with 1,040,00 viewers. Time Warner grows and changes constantly. Actually many groups owned by Time Warner have been able to branch off and become strong independent companies, including AOL and Time Warner Cable to name a few.

In 2012 Time Warner made total revenue of $28.7 billion, which is amazing to say the least. Their expert use of horizontal integration, especially, helped them reach this mass income that year. Time Warner spans many media outlets including TV, Film and magazine and each can and has completed the other through various forms of advertising. There TV and Magazine companies can promote each other through advertising as well as both can promote new films owned by Time Warner.

I feel that no matter what I will always be surprised at the sheer amount of money these corporations make in a year. Of course I definitely helped Time Warner reach that with my love of HBO and most Warner Bros. movies but its just amazing when you think about all the money made by these groups. Time Warner effectively promotes it corporations by using other corporations it owns to do so. Its plain to see why Time Warner is one of the top mass media conglomerates in the world and will probably continue to be one for many years to come.





The Graham Holdings Company

The Graham Holdings Company (formerly The Washington Post Company) is a publicly traded American media conglomerate founded in 1889 in Washington D.C.. After the sale of The Washington Post newspaper to Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos in 2013,  The Washington Post Company was required to change their name. Though it would seem that the newspaper must have been a significant source of income, having been the namesake of the company,  that is certainly not the case. Graham Holdings Company currently owns various media include print and online news, TV, broadcasting, education, healthcare, energy production and various web firms, specifically one that specializes in Facebook advertising.

Print and Online News

The Washington Post
El Tiempo Latino (D.C.)
Express (D.C)
Fashion Washington (D.C)
The Washington Post News Service with Bloomberg News
The Washington Post Writers Group

The Slate Group
The Root
Foreign Policy

The Daily Herald (Everett, WA)
The Enterprise (South Snohomish and North King Counties, WA)
La Raza del Noroeste (Seattle, WA)
The Herald Business Journal (Everett, WA)

Post-Newsweek Media
Comprint Military Publications (Newspapers and base guides for military installations in D.C. region)
Fairfax County Times
The Gazette (Maryland Community Newspapers in Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Frederick Counties)
Southern Maryland Newspapers: Maryland Independent (Charles County); The Calvert Recorder (Calvert County); The Enterprise (St. Mary’s County); The Enquirer Gazette

Greater Washington Publishing
SourceBook: Guide to Retirement Living
New Condominium Guide
New Homes Guide
The Washington Post Apartment Showcase


Post-Newsweek StationsWDIV (Detroit, MI)
KPRC (Houston, TX)
WPLG (Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale, FL)
WKMG (Orlando, FL)
KSAT (San Antonio, TX)
WJXT (Jacksonville, FL)

Education Services

Kaplan Higher Education
Kaplan International
Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions
Kaplan Ventures

Kaplan Continuing Education
Kaplan IT Learning Center
The Kidum Group
Kaplan Virtual Education
Kaplan Learning Technologies
Kaplan Venture Capital
iProf India, Ltd.


Cable ONE (Owner and Operator of Cable Television Systems)
Comprint Printing
Robinson Terminal Warehouse Corporation
Washington Post Live


The Graham Holdings Company showcase horizontal integration because they own a variety of media outlets in different categories. I For example, the owning of Comprint Printing with so many news outlets would maybe be considered vertical, but all media that falls into other, seemingly unrelated categories, like SocialCode advertising, creates a synergy between the different types of media owned by Graham Holdings. It can be assumed that these outlets are being used to promote the more obscure holdings to their consumers, whether that be students, advertisers, or viewers.

I was surprised to see that Graham Holdings (originally researched as the Washington Post Company) did not own more news and online publications. Having been named for a prominent American newspaper, it would seem that this would be their niche. However, I would think that dabbling in so many media holdings would provide greater reach and a chance to build off of each medium, rather than setting them apart. The biggest holding that I found to be surprising and a bit random was the Kaplan and other education products. I have used Kaplan resources all throughout my schooling, and it is interesting to know that they are linked to a medium-sized media conglomerate. The synergy created between these brands makes for a diverse and presumably powerful influence in our society.


Columbia Journalism Review
Graham Holdings

The Tribune Company

Company: Tribune Company

            The Tribune Company is a multimedia company that operates businesses in publishing, digital, and broadcasting. The Tribune Company owns 23 television stations, 12 newspapers, one radio station, and multiple magazines. In 2010, the company’s revenue was $3.2 billion.


Ownership Map:

  • Radio:
    • WGN-AM Chicago
  • Cable:
    • WGN Americ
  • Television Stations:
    • WPIX-TV (CW) New York
    • KTLA-TV (CW) Los Angeles
    • WGN-TV (CW) Chicago
    • CLTV Chicagoland Television 24-Hour News
    • WPHL-TV (MY) Philadelphia
    • KDAF-TV (CW) Dallas
    • WDCW-TV (CW) Washington DC
    • KIAH-TV (CW) Houston
    • KCPQ-TV (FOX) Seattle
    • KZJO-TV (MY) Seattle
    • WSFL-TV (CW) South Florida
    • KWGN-TV (CW) Denver
    • KDVR-TV (Fox) Denver
    • WJW-TV (Fox) Cleveland
    • KTXL-TV (Fox) Sacramento
    • KSWB-TV (Fox) San Diego
    • KPLR-TV (CW) St. Louis
    • KTVI-TV (Fox) St. Louis
    • KRCW-TV (CW) Portland
    • WXIN-TV (Fox) Indianapolis
    • WTTV-TV (CW) Indianapolis
    • WTIC-TV (Fox) Hartford
    • WDAF-TV (Fox) Kansas City
    • KSTU-TV (Fox) Salt Lake City
    • WITI TV (Fox) Milwaukee
    • WCCT-TV (CW) Waterbury
    • WXMI-TV (Fox) Grand Rapids
    • KFOR-TV (NBC) Oklahoma City
    • KAUT-TV (INDY) Oklahoma City
    • WPMT-TV (Fox) Harrisburg
    • WTKR-TV (CBS) Norfolk
    • WGNT-TV (CW) Norfolk
    • WGHP-TV (Fox) Greensboro
    • WREG-TV (CBS) Memphis
    • WGNO-TV (ABC) New Orleans
    • WNOL-TV (CW) New Orleans
    • WNEP-TV (ABC) Scranton
    • WTVR-TV (CBS) Richmond
    • WHO-TV (NBC) Des Moines
    • WHNT-TV (CBS) Huntsville
    • WQAD-TV (ABC/MY) Davenport
    • KFSM-TV (CBS) Fort Smith
    • KXNW-TV (MY) Fort Smith
  • Newspapers:
  • Classified Advertising:
    • Classified Ventures
    • CareerBuilder
    • Apartments.com
    • Cars.com
    • For Sale by Owner
    • Homefinder
  • Magazines:
    • Chicago Magazine
  • Entertainment:
    • Metromix
  • Subsidiaries:
    • Tribune Media Services
    • Gracenote
    • Zap 2 It
    • Tribune Direct

            The Tribune Company is a multimedia conglomerate company based in Chicago, Illinois. It is the second largest newspaper publisher in the nation. The company was founded in 1847 and only owned the Chicago Daily Tribune. The company continued in the print media industry and began buying other print media outlets. By the mid 1920s, the Tribune Company began expanding horizontally by moving into broadcast media. The company eventually began accumulating online holdings as well. The Tribune Company’s reputable reputation was essential for its expansion and allowed for a synergetic operation.

            The Tribune Company owns several notable newspapers and radio stations. It is surprising and somewhat concerning to think that one company has control over such large media outlets. For example, it is worrisome to think that the Tribune Company can control the content of such popular papers that reaches millions and millions of people. Theoretically, if the Tribune Company had newsworthy information they wanted to suppress or promote, they could successfully do that on a national scale. Additionally, besides these large, well-known media outlets, the Tribune Company owns several lesser-known ones, further expanding its influence. Overall, the Tribune Company has access to an immense, frightening amount of power. 





Viacom is one of the largest conglomerates in the world, containing many popular cable and movie networks.  Here are the following companies that Viacom owns:

Cable Networks

Atom Entertainment







BET Networks


BET Event Productions

BET Gospel

BET Hip Hop

BET International

BET Mobile

BET Pictures



CMT Loaded

CMT Mobile

CMT On Demand

CMT Pure Country

CMT Radio


Comedy Central



GT Marketplace





MTV Networks


MTV Books

MTV Hits

MTV Jams


MTVN International


Game One


MTV Boombox


MTV Revolution


TMF (The Music Factory)

Tr3s: MTV, Musica y Mas






Nick at Nite

Nick Jr.


The Click

Nick Arcade

Nick GAS

Nickelodeon Consumer Products

Nicktoons Network





Spike TV

Spike Filmed Entertainment

TV Land


VH1 Classic



Viacom International Media Networks


Paramount Pictures Corporation

MTV Films

Nickelodeon Movies

Paramount Animation

Paramount Home Entertainment

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Vantage

Viacom Digital








Rainbow Group (Minority Interest)

Before exploring Viacom, I had no idea how many companies were running underneath it.  Honestly, I was surprised.  I learned that Viacom is a company that definitely relies on advertising to fund their many channel outlets.  Typically, I think that they air different commercials targeting different audiences on their various channels (for example, airing acne commercials on MTV or airing commercials for new toys on Nickelodeon.)  I also learned, from Viacom’s annual report, that Viacom intakes fees from cable companies, just for being officially attached to the conglomerate.  I think that Viacom is a large enough company already, but it may benefit Viacom if they were to horizontally integrate by possibly picking up some music media outlets as well.  Mainly, Viacom distributes film and television shows to the public via various outlets like Paramount or Cable Television networks.  I think that they do a great job in running their company, but some of their television networks (like MTV channels) are losing their popularity over the years.  They are synergistic in that Viacom works with various tv channels and shows, regardless of the content.  For example, they run Southparkstudios.com, which airs one of my favorite shows of all time.  However, Viacom also airs children’s tv shows on cable television and also iCarly.com, a teen show.  Viacom works well with both adult and children’s content, in my opinion. I feel that since Viacom picked up all of the TV networks, it is really focusing on advertising as a point of business, so that they can fund their projects for Paramount or other movies.  It is good that they do not run legitimate news stations, because I feel that those stations would be riddled with advertising focusing on the consumer instead of informing the public on the actual news.

I got this information from the Columbia Journalism Review and Viacom’s website: