Ever wonder where your news comes from? The short answer is, it comes from massive, global corporations. Ever wonder why the misdeeds of massive global corporations aren’t reported? Read this list and that question should answer itself.
This is a subjective view of the environment that creates what Americans call “news.” It is first a corporate environment — the players are all for-profit capitalists. Economist Joseph Vogl estimates there are now about 1,300 corporations that control about 80% of the global economy. “[T]hey ‘cumulatively hold the majority share of each other’…. A close-knit and largely self-regulating bloc of corporations forms an economic ‘super-entity’ containing a concentration of network control and financial-economic policy-making power.”
About 90% of our news comes from these ten corporations. Five of them have annual revenues over $20 billion. (We combined 21st Century Fox and News Corp, because they’re run by the same family, out of the same building).
What’s interesting is that they’re all primarily in some form of the media business, be it production or distribution. Three are in the entertainment business (Disney, 21st Century Fox, and CBS Corporation), three are distribution companies (Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon), and four are newspapers (News Corp, USA Today, New York Times, and the Washington Post).
We’ve investigated their global “reach” and foreign influences, but the analysis is far from complete. These corporations control hundreds of media outlets, and have related businesses, mostly in the entertainment industry, that go far beyond what we call news. In a sense, they are industrial brain-washing machines.
1. ABC News (Disney)
Disney is the biggest player in the global information industry. Its main focus is entertainment, but entertainment carries its own message. Their message is materialism: consumption as the pathway to happiness.
The number of people watching network broadcast evening news programs has been dropping at about 5% a year for some time. ABC News has just over 9 million daily viewers (that’s over 200 million a month). Its website has an estimated 36 million hits per month. Disney’s entertainment programming, though, reaches a vast audience.
ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Company, the world’s largest media conglomerate in terms of revenue. Disney has four main media units: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products and interactive media.
Disney Media Networks also manages Disney’s interest in its joint venture with Hearst Communications for A+E Networks, and ESPN Inc. It is the only division with two leaders or “co-chairs”: the presidents of ESPN and Disney-ABC Television Group.
Walt Disney Company operates in four business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products & interactive media. The media networks segment includes cable and broadcast television networks (including ESPN), television production and distribution operations, domestic television stations, and radio networks and stations. The Company’s Walt Disney Imagineering unit designs and develops new theme park concepts and attractions, as well as resort properties. The studio entertainment segment produces and acquires live-action and animated motion pictures (including Disney-, Marvel- and Lucasfilm brand films), direct-to-video content, musical recordings and live stage plays. The Company also develops and publishes games, primarily for mobile platforms, books, magazines and comic books.
The Company’s broadcasting business included a domestic broadcast network, television production and distribution operations, and eight owned domestic television stations: WABC, KABC, WLS, WPVI, KGO, KTRK, WTVD and KFSN in markets, such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno, respectively
The Walt Disney Company owns networks, and sells the programs developed by its cable networks around the world to television broadcasters.
· As of October 1, 2016, the Company operated over 100 Disney branded television channels, which were broadcasted in 34 languages and 163 countries/territories.
· As of October 1, 2016, ESPN owned 19 television networks outside of the United States that allowed ESPN to reach sports fans in over 60 countries and territories in four languages.
· Disney Cinemagic and Disney Cinema are premium subscription services available in certain countries in Europe, airing a selection of Disney movies, Disney cartoons and shorts, as well as animated television series.
· Radio Disney is a 24-hour radio network targeted at kids, tweens and families. Radio Disney operates from an owned terrestrial radio station in Los Angeles. Radio Disney is also available throughout Latin America.
· Hungama is a general entertainment cable network for kids in India, which features a mix of animation, Hindi-language series and game shows. The Company also operates UTV- and Bindass-branded cable television networks in India. The networks include UTV Action and UTV Movies, which offer Bollywood movies, as well as Hindi-dubbed Hollywood movies. Bindass is a youth entertainment channel, and the networks also include Bindass Play, which is a music channel.
· Disney owns theme parks and resorts in Marne-la-Vallee, Tokyo, and Shanghai, as well as 78 retail stores in Europe, 48 retail stores in Japan, and one retail store in China
Robert A. Iger, Chairman of the board
Ben Sherwood — Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks, President, Disney–ABC Television Group
Channing Dungey — President, ABC Entertainment
James Goldston — President, ABC News
2/3. FoxNews/Wall Street Journal (21st Century Fox/News Corp)
Although they are separate entities, 21st Century Fox and News Corp are both run by the Murdoch family, so we count them together. The big news here is Disney’s announced plans to buy out a chunk of 21st Century Fox — one goliath gobbling up another.
$36 billion. That’s $28 billion for 21st Century Fox, $8.14 billion for News Corp.
FoxNews has been number 1 in basic cable news since 2002. It has 2.4 million primetime viewers. FoxNews’ website is ranked #220 worldwide, with 7.2 million unique monthly visitors.
The Wall Street Journal reported having 1.27 million paid digital subscriptions, and 1.24 million print subscriptions. The Journal’s website is ranked #131 worldwide, with 12.5 million unique monthly visitors.
21st Century Fox and News Corp are American multinational mass media corporations that are based in Midtown Manhattan, New York City (both are located at 1211 Avenue of the Americas). They were formed from the 2013 spin-off of the publishing assets of News Corporation, as founded by Rupert Murdoch in 1979.
21st Century Fox consists of the old News Corporation’s broadcasting and media properties, such as Fox Entertainment Group. The spin-out was structured so that 21st Century Fox would be the legal successor and continuation of the old News Corporation, with the new News Corp being an entirely new company formed by a stock split.
The “new” News Corporation, holds Murdoch’s print interests and other media assets in Australia (both owned by him and his family via a family trust with 39% controlling interest in each).
On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to acquire 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion after the spin-off of certain businesses; this will include key assets such as 20th Century Fox, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, its regional sports networks, and its international networks. Assets such as the Fox television network, Fox News Channel, and most of Fox Sports will be spun off into an independent company run by the Murdoch family.
21st Century Fox
21st Century Fox’s operations fall into four reporting segments: cable network programming, television, filmed entertainment, and direct-broadcast satellite television.
The cable network television business includes Fox News Channel; Fox Business Network; and cable networks FX, FXX, and the Fox Sports empire of regional and national sports channels. Twenty-First Century Fox also owns the National Geographic Channel, both the U.S. and international versions. The company also has a huge presence in Western Europe, Latin America, Oceania and Asia, operating various movie channels and sports channels throughout said parts of the world.
The company owns 28 stations in the United States, including two apiece in the nation’s three largest cities: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. It also has an extensive content library, including the original Star Wars.
The company’s assets include the Fox Entertainment Group — owners of the 20th Century Fox film studio (the company’s partial namesake), Fox television network and Fox News Channel, among other assets. It also has significant foreign operations, including the pan-Asian pay channel operator Star TV, as well as an approximately 39% stake in Sky plc — a European operator of satellite television providers and pay channels in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Austria, Germany, and Italy.
News Corporation, is a global diversified media and information services company focused on creating and distributing content to consumers and businesses throughout the world. The Company’s operations are organized into five segments: news and information services; book publishing; digital real estate services; cable network programming, and other. News Corp owns:
· Dow Jones & Company, a New York City-based financial publisher, and owners of the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and Barron’s
· News Corp Australia, an Australian newspaper and magazine publisher, and owners of Fox Sports Australia and a stake in pay-TV provider Foxtel and classifieds company REA Group
· News UK, a British newspaper publisher
· New York Post, a daily newspaper in New York City acquired by Rupert Murdoch in 1976.
· HarperCollins, a major book trade publisher
· News America Marketing, a distributor of advertising and coupon promotions
· Wireless Group, a British radio station group
A former CIA analyst raised concerns that foreign governments are seeking to influence American foreign policy, by culling favor with Fox News staff, because President Trump receives an inordinate amount of information from that one source.
In addition to having many foreign assets, News Corp also provides “Dow Jones Risk & Compliance products” which provide data services focused on anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, monitoring embargo and sanction lists and other compliance requirements.
A News Corp subsidiary called REA Group operates a Chinese site, myfun.com, which supports REA Group’s businesses in other geographical markets by showcasing residential property listings to Chinese buyers and investors, and delivers leads to agents. In Europe, REA Group operates sites in Italy (casa.it) and in Luxembourg and regions of France (atHome.lu, atHome.de, immoRegion.fr and atOffice.lu).
21st Century Fox
Rupert Murdoch Co-Executive Chairman
Lachlan Murdoch, Co-Executive Chairman
James Murdoch, CEO
Chase Carey, vice-chair
Rupert Murdoch, Executive Co-Chairman
Lachlan Murdoch, Executive Co-Chairman
Robert James Thomson (CEO)
Paul Cheesbrough (CTO)
4. CNN (Time Warner)
Time Warner clocks in as the fourth biggest media news conglomerate in our count. Aside from CNN, they do little news programming. Like Disney, the bulk of Time Warner’s media production is in entertainment.
As of July 2015, CNN was available to about 96 million cable, satellite, and telco television households (82.8% of households with at least one television set) in the United States. Globally, CNN programming airs through CNN International, which could be seen by viewers in over 212 countries and territories.
Time Warner, Inc. is an American multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered in New York City. Cable News Network (CNN) is an American basic cable and satellite television news channel owned by the Turner Broadcasting System, a division of Time Warner.
On October 22, 2016, AT&T announced its intent to acquire Time Warner for $108.7 billion (including assumed Time Warner debt). In November 2017, the U.S. Justice Department said it was moving to sue to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger.
Time Warner currently has major operations in film and television, with a limited amount in publishing operations. Among its major assets are HBO/Cinemax, Turner Broadcasting System, The CW (with CBS), Warner Bros. pictures and television, CNN, DC Comics, Warner Bros. and HBO content library, and as of August 2016, Hulu, owning 10%.
Time Warner’s international profits have been growing at a strong 14% annual rate, powered mostly by Turner Broadcast Network programming, such as the Cartoon Network.
Jeff Bewkes, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Time Warner Inc.
John Martin, Chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting System
Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide
5. AOL/Yahoo/Huffington Post (Verizon)
Verizon clocks in at number five, with its huge revenue base, coming mostly from delivery operations. It is a relatively new entrant into news content production. Its brands: AOL, Yahoo, and Huffington Post, are best known for bundling others’ content. But with increasing reach, it would do well to produce more of its own content.
Yahoo’s website is ranked #8 worldwide, with 111 million unique monthly visitors, and the Huffington Post gets an estimated 110 million unique monthly visitors.
AOL, Yahoo, and Huffington Post are web portals, online service providers, and brands marketed by Oath, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.
Verizon was one of the Baby Bells, originally called Bell Atlantic, created in 1984, when the Justice Department of the United States mandated AT&T Corporation to break up the Bell System. In 2015, Verizon expanded into media ownership by acquiring AOL, and two years later it acquired Yahoo!. AOL and Yahoo were amalgamated into a new division called Oath Inc.
Verizon’s operations are divided into two divisions: its media division, Verizon Media (Oath), and its telecommunications division, Verizon Global Operations.
Verizon Enterprise Solutions provides IP-based products and services to business and government agencies around the globe, including 97 percent of the Fortune 500.
Lowell C. McAdam, chairman and chief executive officer of Verizon Communications
Martin Burvill, senior vice president and group president of Verizon Business Markets
Tim Armstrong, CEO of Oath
6. NBC News/MSNBC (Comcast)
Rounding out the Big 6, Comcast, like Verizon, combines distribution experience, with new attitudes in media production. Comcast’s poor reputation for customer service has become an industry embarrassment. The NBC brand is a legacy in the broadcast industry, going back to David Sarnoff, who announced Sarnoff’s Law: the value of a broadcast network is proportional to the number of viewers.
NBC’s evening news broadcast gets 8.4 million viewers. NBC New’s website is ranked #54 worldwide, with 24 million unique monthly visitors. MSNBC gets 1.8 million primetime viewers. MSNBC.com gets 8.6 million unique views a month. As of February 2015, approximately 94 million households in the United States (81.2 percent of those with television) were receiving MSNBC.
Comcast Corporation (formerly registered as Comcast Holdings) is an American global telecommunications conglomerate that is the largest broadcasting and cable television company in the world by revenue (through its Xfinity brand). It is the second-largest pay-TV company after AT&T, largest cable TV company and largest home Internet service provider in the United States, and the nation’s third-largest home telephone service provider. Comcast services U.S. residential and commercial customers in 40 states and in the District of Columbia
MSNBC is an American news cable and satellite television network that provides news coverage and political commentary from NBC News on current events. MSNBC is owned by the NBCUniversal News Group, a unit of the NBCUniversal Television Group division of NBCUniversal, all of which are owned by Comcast.
In February 2014, the company agreed to merge with Time Warner Cable in an equity swap deal worth $45.2 billion. Under the terms of the agreement Comcast was to acquire 100% of Time Warner Cable. However, on April 24, 2015, Comcast terminated the agreement. Comcast and Charter Communications entered into an agreement to conduct exclusive discussions with Sprint in late June 2017.
Comcast operates the Xfinity cable/telecommunications service, over-the-air national broadcast network channels (NBC and Telemundo), multiple cable-only channels (including MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network, NBCSN, E!, The Weather Channel, among others), the film production studio Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks & Resorts in Los Angeles, California; Orlando, Florida; and Osaka, Japan. Universal Studios Singapore, one of the four Universal operating theme parks, is wholly owned by Genting Group, and a few new locations such as Universal Studios Beijing are currently under construction or planned in the future. Comcast also has significant holdings in digital distribution, such as thePlatform, acquired in 2006.
Comcast’s NBC Universal division recently signed a deal with Alibaba Group Holding Limited to provide content, and is actively seeking to expand into China. According to one analyst: “Though NBC Universal presently collects roughly 20% of its revenues internationally, the deal with Alibaba should give a boost to the company’s plans to expand its businesses overseas.”
Brian L. Roberts, chairman, president, and CEO of Comcast, is the son of co-founder Ralph Roberts. Roberts owns or controls about 1% of all Comcast shares but all of the Class B supervoting shares, which gives him an undilutable 33% voting power over the company. Legal experts say this gives him effective control over Comcast’s every step. In 2010, he was one of the highest paid executives in the United States, with total compensation of about $31 million.
Phil Griffin, president and director of day-to-day operations at MSNBC.
Noah Oppenheim, President of NBC News
Andrew Lack, Chairman of NBCUniversal News Group
7. CBS Network (CBS Corporation)
CBS represents the first of the “low share” members of the top 10, with only $4 billion in revenue. The news operation, the former home of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, is a legacy broadcast news outlet, with shows including the CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, news magazine programs CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes and 48 Hours, and Sunday morning political affairs program Face the Nation.
At 6.6 million daily viewers (about 200 million monthly), CBS Evening News is the lowest rated of the three network broadcasts. CBS News’ website is ranked #71 worldwide, with 19 million unique monthly visitors.
CBS Corporation is an American mass media corporation focused on commercial broadcasting, publishing, and television production, with most of its operations in the United States.
CBS was formerly affiliated with Viacom. On September 29, 2016, National Amusements sent a letter to both CBS and Viacom, encouraging the two companies to merge back into one company. On December 12, the deal was called off. However, on January 12, 2018, CNBC reported that both companies re-entered talks to merge.
National Amusements is owned by Sumner Redstone, who holds 80% of the company, and his daughter, Shari Redstone, who owns the remaining 20%. Through National Amusements, the Redstone family controls both the CBS Corporation (owner of CBS) and Viacom (owner of Paramount Pictures) through supervoting shares.
The Company operates through four segments: entertainment, cable networks, publishing and local media. The entertainment segment comprises the CBS Television Network; CBS Television Studios; CBS Studios International and CBS Television Distribution; CBS Interactive; CBS Films; and the Company’s digital streaming services, CBS All Access and CBSN. The cable networks segment comprises Showtime Networks, which operates its subscription program services, Showtime, The Movie Channel, and Flix. The publishing segment comprises Simon & Schuster. The local media segment comprises CBS TV Stations, and CBS Local Digital Media. Its businesses span the media and entertainment industries, including the CBS TV Network, cable networks, content production and distribution, 18 broadcast television stations, Internet-based businesses, and consumer publishing. It focuses on exhibiting its content on multiple digital platforms, including digital streaming services, as well as third-party live television streaming offerings, and content libraries.
CBS Studios International is a supplier of programming to the international television marketplace, licensing to more than 200 markets in more than 60 languages across multiple media platforms. The division distributes content from CBS Television Studios, CBS Television Distribution, SHOWTIME Networks, CBS News, CBS Films and a library of more than 70,000 hours of programming. The Studio participates in a number of international channel ventures and also exports a diverse lineup of formats for local production. CBS Studios International has 13 offices around the world, including its base in Los Angeles and EMEA headquarters in Amsterdam. CBS Studios International is a division of CBS Corporation.
Leslie Moonves, president, chief executive and executive chairman of CBS.
Sumner Redstone, owner of National Amusements, controls CBS by way of his majority ownership of the company’s Class A voting stock; he also serves as chairman emeritus.
David Rhodes, President of CBS News.
8. USA Today (Gannett Company)
Gannett is a sleeper in the news business. Quietly publishing its product, lite-fare news with simple graphics, since September 15, 1982, Gannett is a steady performer. One wonders where this rather conventional product might go in the future. USA Today, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, emerged from the digital revolution, as the dominant newspapers. Of course, other worthy brands are still being published, but the market is not going in their direction.
$3 billion (2017 not available)
With a weekly circulation of over 1 million, and an approximate daily reach of 7 million readers as of 2016, USA Today shares the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States with The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. USA Today is distributed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with an international edition distributed in Canada, Asia and the Pacific Islands, and Europe. Its website is ranked #89, with 16 million unique monthly visitors.
USA Today is an internationally distributed American daily middle-market newspaper that serves as the flagship publication of its owner, the Gannett Company.
Gannett Company, Inc. is a publicly traded American media holding company headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia, near McLean in Greater Washington DC. It is the largest U.S. newspaper publisher as measured by total daily circulation.
In 2015, Gannett Co. Inc. spun off its publishing business into a separate publicly traded entity, while retaining the internet media divisions. Immediately following the spinoff, the former parent Company (Gannett Co. Inc.) renamed itself Tegna. The spun-off publishing business renamed itself “Gannett”.
Its assets include the national newspaper USA Today and the erstwhile weekly USA Weekend. Its largest non-national newspaper is The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, Arizona. Other significant newspapers include The Indianapolis Star, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Tennessean in Nashville, Tennessee, The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York, The Des Moines Register, the Detroit Free Press, The News-Press in Fort Myers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the Great Falls Tribune.
Robert Dickey, CEO
Gracia Martore, CEO Tegna
9. New York Times (The New York Times Company)
The New York Times is the legacy news operation in the United States, and it came out of the digital revolution stronger than any other brand. In an age of dying newspaper brands, the Grey Lady seems well positioned to lead independent news gathering in the next century.
The New York Times has over half a million daily print subscribers, over a million Sunday only print subscribers, and 2.5 million digital-only subscribers. Its website is ranked #10 worldwide, with 95 million unique monthly visitors.
The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. The paper is owned by The New York Times Company, which is publicly traded but primarily controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family through a dual-class share structure. The Times has been t has been owned by the Sulzberger family since 1896;
Since the mid-1970s, The New York Times has expanded its layout and organization, adding special weekly sections on various topics supplementing the regular news, editorials, sports, and features. Since 2008, The New York Times has been organized into the following sections: News, Editorials/Opinions-Columns/Op-Ed, New York (metropolitan), Business, Sports of The Times, Arts, Science, Styles, Home, Travel, and other features. On Sunday, The New York Times is supplemented by the Sunday Review (formerly the Week in Review), The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Magazine and T: The New York Times Style Magazine (T is published 13 times a year). The New York Times stayed with the broadsheet full page set-up (as some others have changed into a tabloid lay-out) and an eight-column format for several years, after most papers switched to six, and was one of the last newspapers to adopt color photography, especially on the front page.
The Times has won 122 Pulitzer prizes.
A.G. Sulzberger, publisher
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., chairman
10. Washington Post (Nash Holdings)
The Washington Post is another legacy newspaper, and with Jeff Bezos’ involvement, will likely continue to improve in the digital realm. His investment in foreign reporting shows a long-term interest in building an international news organization, which speaks well for the brand’s future.
Not known, but guesses are at about $100 million.
Like most newspapers, the Washington Post’s print circulation is dropping. As of May 2013, its average weekday circulation was 474,767, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, making it the seventh largest newspaper in the country by circulation, behind USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily News, and the New York Post. In 2014, the Post’s Monday through Sunday, paid print circulation was 395,234. “That’s down about 37% since 2009, when the paper’s average daily circulation was 633,100.” While its circulation (like that of almost all newspapers) has been slipping, it has one of the highest market-penetration rates of any metropolitan news daily.
The Washington Post is an American daily newspaper. Published in Washington, D.C., it was founded on December 6, 1877.
In 2013, its longtime controlling family, the Graham family, sold the newspaper to billionaire entrepreneur and Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million in cash. The newspaper is owned by Nash Holdings LLC, a holding company Bezos created for the acquisition.
The Post continues to do what it does best — reporting. Based in Washington, they recently opened a bureau in New York City.
It is aggressively expanding its foreign bureaus. “After revealing surprising plans in 2016 to add more than 60 journalists in the year to come, The Post just announced the opening of foreign bureaus in Rome and Hong Kong, and the addition of a second Mexico City-based correspondent. The three new reporting positions bring the total number of foreign correspondents to 27 based in 19 locations. The move comes two years after The Post set up bureaus in Paris, Istanbul and Brussels, which marked an acceleration of the organization’s international expansion efforts started in 2013. “By the end of 2018, the number of full-time correspondents deployed overseas by The Post will be as large or larger than at any point in the news organization’s history,” foreign editor Douglas Jehl told WAN-IFRA.”
The Post has won 47 Pulitzer Prizes.
Amazon has secured a 600 million dollar contract with the CIA, which poses a potential conflict. Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said, “It’s a serious potential conflict of interest for a major newspaper like The Washington Post to have a contractual relationship with the government and the most secret part of the government.”
Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Post, is Amazon’s chief executive and biggest shareholder.
Frederick J. Ryan Jr., Publisher