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A Political Economic Analysis Of The Walt Disney Company

1044 words - 5 pages

Critical political Economy is a theory based on an interrogative approach to large-scale economic relationships based within a society. The notion that media is a profit-driven industry is widely accepted, as the communication industries are fully integrated into capitalist production. The political economy of media is based on the premise that media are powerful and able to effectively influence public opinion and shape public discourse (Wittel, 2012). Concentration of media outlets has resulted in the majority of media production outlets and distributors being owned by international media conglomerates such as the famous Walt Disney Company.

Critical Political Economy is theoretically ...view middle of the document...

Chomsky and Herman explain the systematic biases of North American media as a consequence of the pressure to create a stable and profitable business (2002), exemplified in the study of the Walt Disney Company. The Walt Disney Company's prominence and influence on consumer culture has provoked a broad critical debate on the subject of media convergence. Disney has always been a profit-motivated company, originally operating as a small, independent production company during the 1930s and 40s, but in the 1950’s moved to theme parks and television, before further expanding into merchandise in the 1980’s (Wasko, 2001 pp. 237--257). The Walt Disney Company has since evolved into a transnational media and entertainment conglomerate, with revenues over $25.4 billion in 2000. The Disney Company includes a wide range of entertainment labels, including films under the Walt Disney label, as well as Touchstone, Hollywood, Miramax and Merchant-Ivory. In 1998, Disney received nearly 22% of the market share in the North American market (Wasko, 2001, pp. 237--257). It is clear that the Disney Corporation is a dominant player in the entertainment and media business, an increasingly corporatized and centralised industry with an expanding focus on children, and is dominated by other transnational media conglomerate such as Viacom, Fox, and Time Warner. These corporations not only have enormous economic power, but their also exhibit great political influence. They have funnelled extraordinary sums of money to political parties and officials, spending over $3,570,000 in on lobbying in 2010. This political influence is not superfluous – it allows the company to influence policy changes to prevent the dissolution and degradation of their media empire.
The purpose of Disney films and television programs can not be limited to purely entertainment purposes. A concentration on merchandising arose within the Disney Company in the 1980’s and since then Disney has utilised its films and programmes to sell products to viewers. Disney’s marketing focus is on the youngest of consumers – children aged 3-10, alongside an ever-expanding focus on toddlers and ‘tweens’ (ages 10-13). Television programmes such as ‘Hannah Montana’ have expanded this range of targetable viewers, and has expanded their media control to include a high-profit music industry. Children have become the epicentre of American consumer culture and this age group is now one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing areas of targeted advertising and marketing. The increasing value of children as a commodity in a media-based economy has influenced the Media to focus on children as their captive market. It is currently estimated that children command over $40 billion in direct purchasing power (Schor, 2006, pp. 27--48), and as a result, advertising and marketing to children has risen considerably in recent years, and is now estimated to exceed $15 billion (Schor 2004). This pertaining consumer culture is pivotal in...

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