Who Owns the Media? Competition and Concentration in the Mass Media Industry

Who Owns the Media? Competition and Concentration in the Mass Media Industry

Who Owns the Media? Competition and Concentration in the Mass Media Industry

Who Owns the Media? Competition and Concentration in the Mass Media Industry


This thorough update to Benjamin Compaine's original 1979 benchmark and 1982 revisit of media ownership tackles the question of media ownership, providing a detailed examination of the current state of the media industry. Retaining the wealth of data of the earlier volumes, Compaine and his co-author Douglas Gomery chronicle the myriad changes in the media industry and the factors contributing to these changes. They also examine how the media industry is being reshaped by technological forces in all segments, as well as by social and cultural reactions to these forces. This third edition of Who Owns the Media? has been reorganized and expanded, reflecting the evolution of the media industry structure. Looking beyond conventional wisdom and expectations, Compaine and Gomery examine the characteristics of competition in the media marketplace, present alternative positions on the meanings of concentration, and ultimately urge readers to draw their own conclusions on an issue that is neither black nor white. Appropriate for media practitioners and sociologists, historians, and economists studying mass media, this volume can also be used for advanced courses in broadcasting, journalism, mass communication, telecommunications, and media education. As a new benchmark for the current state of media ownership, it is invaluable to anyone needing to understand who controls the media and thus the information and entertainment messages received by media consumers.


Seems nearly everybody talks about the media these days. Some bemoan what they see or hear and others celebrate the cornucopia of entertainment and news that daily becomes more widely available to more households. Some are concerned about the potential impact of violent or other antisocial behavior depicted on the theater or home screen and others argue the media do not in themselves "cause" anything to happen. Some see bias in media news reports and others revel in being able to see distant events in their own homes just as they are happening. Some argue the media have lowered national tastes and others see a host of uplifting publications and programs. To a degree, each of these conflicting observations is on the mark.

The volume you hold -- really the third edition of a title first issued 21 years ago -- analyzes who owns the media, an issue about which only a relative handful of people seem to complain. Yet the real answers to most of the everyday expressions of concern about or praise for media lie with the owners and managers of American print, film, and electronic media companies. These institutions provide the media content that takes up a substantial part of daily life for millions of Americans, as well as the advertising that helps the commercial world hum. Yet, with some obvious exceptions (e.g., Rupert Murdoch or perhaps the broadcast television networks), few of these owners are known outside media industry circles.

The same thing was true two decades ago when Benjamin Compaine first pulled Kenneth Noble, Thomas Guback, and me together to assess what was known about who owned the media in the late 1970s. In an intense few months we assembled what data were available and offered a survey of who owned what. We revised, reconsidered, and expanded these findings just 3 years later. Now, 20 years after that initial effort, Compaine and the University of Maryland's Douglas Gomery have undertaken a far more daunting task; trying to make ownership sense out of a very different media industry at the dawn of a new century -- and the millennium.

Two Decades of Change

As an indicator of what Compaine and Gomery faced as they began their task back in 1997, consider just how much American media have changed in those two decades since the first edition. First and foremost the number and variety of media choices available to most American households are now far greater. When this book first appeared in 1979, the typical household received only a handful of television channels over the air -- and only 20% of . . .

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