Concentration of Ownership and Decreasing Diversity in Print Media
For all who love to read books, imagine walking into bookstore after bookstore seeing the same type of books over and over. No variety, no choice, only repetition. Although America prides itself on freedom and democracy more than any nation in the world, this hypothetical situation is becoming increasingly closer to becoming a reality than some may think. Consolidation and concentration of ownership in print media companies may cause for the inability of some people to voice their opinions. What does this mean? This means that the basis of our country, including freedom from the first amendment, maybe be pulled out from under our feet. Causes of this lack of diversity in views and opinions may be linked to the fact that very few but extremely large publishing companies are publishing books and magazines. Conglomerate ownership becoming international will also lead to the lack of American publishing control. Finally, although the Internet supplies an outlet for new opportunities and a way of getting diverse information spread throughout the world, not all people are capable of obtaining this information.
It was once thought that mass media would reflect very diverse points of view. Now that publishing of books and magazines has reduced to a few large companies, the outlook for diversity is beginning to shrink in size. In 1983, over 50 companies dominated the mass media of the United States. Today, this size has drastically decreased to nine major companies including AOL Time Warner, Disney, Bertelsmann, Viacom, News Corporation, TCI, General Electric, Sony, and Seagram1. By allowing a few large companies to control major publications or mass media of any kind, we are drastically limiting the amount of information being published by permitting these companies to pick and choose what they believe to be profitable. It has become increasingly difficult for new ideas to come out in print for this reason. Rifka Rosenwein reinforces these ideas by stating, “Having a few huge corporations control our outlets of expressions could lead to less aggressive news coverage and a more muted marketplaces of ideas.”2 And that is exactly what is happening, not only in news coverage and the marketplace, but in print media as well. When large companies dominate the print media of the United States, we are allowing information to be screened, weeded out, and chosen by these companies, and these companies alone.
In order to further emphasize the amount of power that truly lies within these nine dominating companies I would like to bring into light the most profitable, AOL Time Warner. “Time Warner makes 20 percent of its money from the music business, another 20 percent from the news division (magazine and book publishing and cable television news), 10 percent from its US cable systems and the rest from its film, video and...