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Media criticism.

Media Deconcentration

Roll over Viacom and tell Bagdikian the news.

By Jack Shafer

Posted Friday, March 18, 2005, at 7:34 PM PT

For better than 30 years, activists and press critics on the left have disparaged the corporate consolidation of media. Tracking the story with the stamina of an ultramarathoner, Ben Bagdikianhas written a new version of The Media Monopoly every three or four years since the first edition came out in 1983. In recent years, activist-academic Robert McChesney has beavered away at a similar rate.

The activists and critics take the alarmist view of media concentration, decrying the fact that five big media "corporations decide what most citizens will—or will not—learn," as Bagdikian puts it. What's bad is only getting worse with the passage of the decades, they believe. When Bagdikian first wrote The Media Monopoly, just 50 media companies dominated the industry and he thought the problem was out of control then!

But as I wrote in my review of The New Media Monopoly last summer, the trend toward media gigantism isn't as inevitable as Bagdikian thinks, because bigger doesn't always make business sense. CBS Inc., which was the largest media conglomerate in 1986, unloaded its various record label, book, and magazine divisions before finally selling its television network to the new conglomerator on the block, Viacom.

...[T]he consolidation mania of the 1990s failed to produce the idealized benefits that drove the original mergers. Not only did infighting impede cooperative ventures, but slow decision-making led to missed opportunities. No media giant was savvy enough to buy Yahoo Inc. early on, for example, before it became an important player.

The infighting the Journal refers to is what the media companies got instead of synergy when they conglomerated. Ask anybody who works for a big media company how much cooperation they get from their corporate cousins, and you'll be greeted by a horse laugh. The broadcast division won't give the record division a sweet advertising deal if it can sell the same air time for more to an outside client. At the bottom of the ledger, every subsidiary must stand for itself.

Time Warner did incalculable business damage to itself by merging with AOL, and in recent months has shed its record label and its Time-Life books-and-records division. It would love to sell its Little, Brown book subsidiary if it could find a taker, and it routinely contemplates ditching AOL. And we all know about the financial tragedy of the French water company that conglomerated itself into a media megalith (Vivendi) and deconglomerated itself in almost record time.

Comes now Viacom's idea of halving its behemoth self into a broadcasting-outdoor-sign company and a studio-cable-book operation—and no unreasonable offer for its book division would be refused, I suspect. Investors have seconded Viacom CEO Summer Redstone's proposal, bidding Viacom stock up 9 percent at one point this week.

What's troubling the media giants' balance sheet is (hold onto your hat, Professor Bagdikian!) competition.

Read more here:

http://www.slate.com/id/2115066/

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The infighting the Journal refers to is what the media companies got instead of synergy when they conglomerated. Ask anybody who works for a big media company how much cooperation they get from their corporate cousins, and you'll be greeted by a horse laugh. The broadcast division won't give the record division a sweet advertising deal if it can sell the same air time for more to an outside client. At the bottom of the ledger, every subsidiary must stand for itself.

Corporate synergy is a fraud - particuarly in Hollywood! The only people who win in the merger game are the lawyers and stock players. Ever notice the pattern. Companies merge and promise great things (witness AOL and Time Warners). Then come the pink slips. But eventually the infighting breaks out because the leftover employess are left to do double duty and work with new bosses that dont know their business. Then when profits begin to fall because of poor product, the company is forced to fire more people to keep profits up. Then they raise prices on the public for their mediocre product. Etc, etc.

Now the companies will spin off. Hiring will begin again until the next MBA genius generation gets hooked on the word S Y N E R G Y and goes under the spell of greed. Bigger isnt better...

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bigger isn't better but it's business and the bizness of amerika is bizness (calvin coollidge). who gives a fuck about the workers? as long as the shareholders are raking it in, it's all good. :mad:

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as i`ve said before dude..it`s ironic that monolithic monopolies rule in the supposedly free market.... :)

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as i`ve said before dude..it`s ironic that monolithic monopolies rule in the supposedly free market.... :)

Theyre scared to death they are going to lose distribution control..but alas, its inevitable :bigsmile:

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