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.
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?)
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.
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.