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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Media Consolidation

At Pew, Katerina Eva Matsa reports:
One of the key impacts of last year’s barrage of acquisitions has been the consolidation of local TV newsrooms, a number of which now share operations in news production. The survey found 1,026 local stations that aired newscasts in 2013 — the highest number since 2008, the first year that Pew Research began tracking this data. At the same time, the number of those stations that aired a newscast produced by another station in 2013 rose to 307 — an increase of 50% from 2008.
At The New York Times, James B. Stewart reports:
The much-admired Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black may be rolling in his grave at the prospect of a merger between 21st Century Fox and Time Warner Inc., which would reduce control of the major Hollywood studios to five owners, from six, and major television producers to four, from five.
Advocates for consolidation in media, who include not just Mr. Murdoch, who controls 21st Century Fox, and their allies, but also other big media, cable and telecommunications companies, tend to brush off antitrust concerns when it comes to content creation. (Even Time Warner has been cautious about raising any antitrust defenses, presumably because, should it thwart Mr. Murdoch this time, it may want to acquire its rivals at some point in the future.)
After all, the rise of Netflix and the popularity of YouTube demonstrate that anyone can make successful original programming in the freewheeling digital era. And even as television producers have consolidated, critics have hailed a new “golden age” of television.
But this ignores the fact that in 1983, 50 companies owned 90 percent of the media consumed by Americans. By 2012, just six companies — including Fox (then part of News Corporation) and Time Warner — controlled that 90 percent, according to testimony before the House Judiciary Committee examining Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal.