The Concentration of Media Ownership, or media consolidation or convergence, is a process which leads to fewer organizations or individuals controlling larger shares of the mass media.
Viacom, CBS Corporation, Time Warner, 21st Century Fox and News Corp are among the worlds largest media conglomerates.
Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the US followed by News Corporation, Time Warner and Viacom.
In what are described as Authoritarian Nations media ownership is normally something very close to complete state control over information in direct or indirect ways.
Mergers and acquisitions are both forms of strategic management. They are the results of one media company buying another to take control of their resources to increase their own revenues and viewership.
A media oligopoly is when a few firms dominate a particular market. When larger media companies buy out smaller scale or local companies they become more powerful within that market. They eliminate their competition through buy outs or by forcing them out because they lack the financial capital and resources to compete, this is what creates the media oligopoly.
The distinction between a merger and an acquisition has become increasingly blurred, although it hasn’t completely disappeared in all situations. From a legal viewpoint a merger is a legal consolidation of two companies into one entity, while an acquisition happens when one company takes over another and completely establishes itself as the new owner.
One explanation for the cause of the concentration of media ownership is a shift to neoliberal deregulation policies, which is a market driven approach.
Deregulation effectively removes governmental barriers to allow for the exploitation of commercial media. Motivation for media firms to merge includes increased profit margins, reduced risk and maintaining a competitive edge.
In complete contrast, those who support deregulation have argued that cultural trade barriers and regulations harm consumers and domestic support in the form of subsidies hinders countries to develop their own strong media firms.
Critics of media deregulation and the resultant concentration of ownership fear that those trends will only continue to reduce the diversity of information provided and the accountability of information providers to the public.