Media users these days are evolving into a hybrid of a consumer and producer: prosumer. Being a prosumer involves, file sharing, creating blogs and video posts etc. which is creating a dilemma for the media industry because if people are producing their own content, there is less demand for content produced by high profile companies. Meanwhile there is a decline in the diversity of media ownership, more commonly, people who own media platforms such as newspapers, television stations or the larger companies that own them, have ownership stakes in more than one. Therefore there is less share percentage left for the ‘little guy’ or individual to buy. But why does it matter who owns the media we consume?
Media ownership means that very few organisations or conglomerates have control over the majority of media. Many smaller organisations are owned by these large corporations and therefore controlled by them. The six largest media conglomerates include Walt Disney, News Corporation, Comcast, CBS, Time Warner and Viacom. Each of these control multiple smaller companies with various roles in the media industry eg. TV/radio stations, newspapers and publishing companies.
These conglomerates have produces cooperation between their various sub branches or companies, such as cross promotion. This occurs when one conglomerate promotes their products through their own media outlets. A great example of this is when watching channel eleven and a commercial for a program shown on channel ten is aired, such as “the project”. This happens because Ten Network Holdings has ownership over 2/3 of channel eleven, with CBS Studios owning the remaining third. Channel eleven advertises channel ten shows because they are told to by the ‘parent company’.
One problem with media ownership today is that because many smaller media outlets are owned by one ‘parent company’ their stories may also be presented with the same bias. This means that the people who consume any of the media produced by the conglomerate are getting the news presented to them in the way that the owner views it, or the side they take in a particular debate. In cases such as this, the presentation could be biased, or they might decline to run a story purely because the owner doesn’t agree with it.
Every formal media message an audience receives is controlled by a conglomerate who decides what information we get, where from and from what perspective. People should remember to keep an open mind and look deeper into an issue or article to see all the perspectives before they make an irrational judgement on it.