Media Conglomerates and You

Where do you get your news? Do you search out more than one source for it? Because if you do, you might not actually be getting more than one take on the news. This is because media conglomerates exist. What is a media conglomerate? Simply put, it is the amassment of media sources by one company; in both the United States and Canada, just a few of these mega-media companies control a majority of the news networks.

In Canada 73.3% of media revenue in 2014 was made by Bell, Rogers, Telus, Shaw, and Quebecor. Bell owns CTV, Global is owned by members of the Shaw family, and Rogers owns Maclean’s and Sportsnet. Postmedia owns major newspapers in every city and sometimes more than one per city, for example in Edmonton it owns both the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun.

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In the U.S., as of 2011, 6 companies (Comcast, Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS) control 90% of the media. And because American media is so pervasive, this effect is felt not only throughout the United States but on the international stage (how many of you turn to CNN (owned by Time Warner) or NBC (owned by Comcast) for some of your news?)

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This infographic was made in 2011 and is now out of date: of note, Comcast has replaced GE as the 6th company.

With the reach that online news has, especially with the help of social media, these companies can gain readers from across the world and shape the views of people who would never have known them before. These conglomerates can now build a base of consumers that trust them, and their reporting can spread like wildfire to those who don’t, influencing more people all the way. Smaller companies can’t compete with this, and are often bought out or run out; one less voice reporting.

I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but this mass ownership by mega-media companies raises serious questions about who is controlling our information and what they are doing to shape that information. If there are a limited number of media sources, is it that far of a stretch to think that the news we hear is limited in its coverage? If we want unbiased journalism, how comfortable are we reading or watching the news when just a handful of executives control a vast majority of it? This isn’t to discredit journalists, but it’s no secret that certain news companies have political slants. Are we comfortable with that? Are there alternatives?

This conglomeration of media isn’t going to stop, and I’m not here to comment on the pros and cons of this setup. But it’s something we need to be aware of, because we need to know where our information comes from. These media conglomerates hold sway over us because of their size and reach, whether we like it or not, but will we trust them or seek out as many different views as possible? When you see a news story on social media, will you consider where it comes from and if it’s shaped for you? What other options do we have? The answers to these questions depend on you.

Daniel Salé

FrugalDad. “Media Consolidation: The Illusion of Choice.” FrugalDad, 22 Nov. 2011, http://www.frugaldad.com/media-consolidation-infographic/. Accessed 4 October 2016.

Winseck, Dwayne. “Canada’s Top Media, Internet & Telecom Companies by Market Share (2014).” CMCRP, 5 Oct. 2015, http://www.cmcrp.org/canadas-top-media-internet-telecom-companies-by-market-share-2014/ . Accessed 4 October 2016.

“Postmedia Dailies.” Postmedia, http://www.postmedia.com/brands/dailies/ . Accessed 4 October 2016.

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6 thoughts on “Media Conglomerates and You

  1. It’s scary to think about how concentrated our information sources are becoming. It’s also scary to think that Rogers has so much control in this market. How can I count on them as a media outlet if I can’t count on them for cell service in West Edmonton Mall?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Preach. I’m a pretty skeptical person by nature, so I’ve never really held too much sway in what I read online. But it’s crazy to think that the “real” news is just as biased. Love hearing some of the facts behind it. Great post.

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  3. Great topic! I totally agree with you on most news being biased. However, I personally find BBC news trustworthy. I have found that their news is usually a list of facts, whereas most other outlets try telling facts through a story. I may be wrong but I’d like to hope there is at least one reliable news source out there.

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    1. I agree that BBC is pretty non-biased, although Europe has a very different cultural/political/social atmosphere than the US and Canada which may account for part of that (no facts on that mind you, just thinking out loud). But I think one thing we shouldn’t fall into is believing that just because a news network is biased that the stories they publish are false or heavily manipulated. They may focus on certain issues that support a narrative and ignore others that go against that narrative, but that doesn’t mean what they’re reporting isn’t true. We need to be careful about bias and limited coverage when we’re considering what is being reported, not necessarily what’s in that reporting. And always be aware, especially with American televised media, that we often hear from commentators (like Bill O’Relly, Sean Hannity, Chris Matthews, etc.) and they are primarily that, commentators, not journalists.

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  4. Doesn’t this leave you grateful to have one source with no direct connection to the mass media moguls? A lot of people do not realize the reason the CBC exists today to protect the people of Canada viewing only the news of the people who could afford to broadcast it and manipulate it anyway they choose. It was basically the same point that was brought up at the latest panel discussion with CBC when they were asked what the future held in store for media outlets. The Facebooks of the media world will control the news but only the news they want to be produced will be and it will be done to satisfy their interests first.

    Thanks for the post, much appreciated. Cam

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  5. Great post! I couldn’t agree with you more. I love the irony living in a time where information is so readily available online, yet we are fed this information by, essentially, the same source. I find myself constantly getting frustrated when I try and seek out news that isn’t from one of the media conglomerate outlets. I find when I try and seek out alternative sources of information, I am often misguided online with the abundance of junk can be found out there.

    I really don’t know what the solution is, but it is a very interesting topic.

    Like

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