The media, may be defined as the different channels, through which entertainment, news, data, education, and other information, like promotional messages, are broadcasted to the target audience.
The media is an umbrella concept, including broadcasting and narrowcasting models within it, these including magazines, newspapers, radio, television, direct mail, billboards, fax, telephone, and the internet, which is arguably the widest.
The enabling modes of data storage for media communication, which are distinguished on the basis of the storage material, may be divided into three wide-ranging categories, namely; optical storage media, like microfiche; magnetic, like diskettes, tapes and disks; and lastly, Magneto-Optical, such as DVSs and CDs.
Having a broad understanding of the areas covered under the concept of the media, it is conclusive that, these models of information broadcasting and storage, cover just about every information medium in the world. Therefore, the media is conclusively one of the most significant institutions in the world.
The major critical roles of the media include informing and entertaining, which have an immense influence across the world.
In many ways, these different channels of the media, dictate who the people within the society are nurtured into becoming; how the members of the society live; and the interactions that take place, as influenced by the information which is broadcasted.
The influence of the media is not questionable, and in the 21st century society, the media is predominantly, the most influential social implement, as well as a crucial determinant of ownership and social frameworks (Coase 76).
Introduction to the control of the media
As a result of the immense influence of the media, there are measures from governments and other authorities, to control the pattern of ownership and the frameworks of operation within the society. However, the existence of a free and fair media, which is not manipulated by the government, is used as an indicator in determining democracy levels.
At the worldwide scene, the pattern of ownership for media institutions has come with an immense level of cultural and political implications.
The top five media institutions in the world include the following: BBC, HBO, CNN, National Geographic, and MTV, as evaluated on the basis of their global command and not the media revenues they yield. These giant institutions can be traced at almost all nations and have also formed linkages with locally based media houses within almost every county.
This paper will identify the top five media institutions, and then seek to map out their patterns of ownership and corporate networking. The paper will also discuss the cultural and the political implications of the international trend explicated (Levy 641).
The ownership patterns and the corporate linkages of the top five global media companies
The BBC is technically owned by the tax paper – as it is fully owned by the U.K state. The U.K government funds the BBC establishment, from charging all U.K television viewers a license charge. Further, it operates under a royal charter and a license based on the agreement from the home secretary.
The BBC, which is the world’s largest broadcaster, has its headquarters at the city of Westminster, London. The company has an employee base of about 23,000, and its principal duty is the provision of public service broadcasting in the U.K, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
Outside the U.K, the BBC provides broadcasting services through express broadcasting and re-transmission deals, over sound radio since its inception in 1932 and lately over its television and online networks. The BBC reaches more than 300 million homes in 170 countries across the world (Sen 135).
The HBO (Home Box Office) is an American premium cable TV network, fully owned by the Time Warner, which is among the world’s vastest media companies, with its headquarters at New York.
The HBO is run through the commission of the subsidiary of Time Warner, Home Box Office Inc. By January 2012, HBOs programming had reached 29 million subscribers across the United States, which qualifies it, as the second largest premium network in the U.S. The HBO also broadcasts – directly or through contractual commissioning to 151 countries in the world.
The CNN is a US cable news channel established in 1980 by Tuner Ted, with its headquarters at Atlanta. It is controlled by the parent corporation Time Warner, and a division of the news channel networks at the Turner Broadcasting Systems. As of August 2010, the CNN had covered 100 Million U.S homes, and globally, the CNN network through the CNN international has reached viewers across more than 212 countries.
National Geographic commercially abbreviated as Nat Geo is a paid television channel that broadcasts non-fiction television programs documented by the National Geographic society. This Television channel is owned mainly by Fox Cable Networks, which is a division of the News Corporation.
MTV (Music Television) is an American music network based in New York, which was launched on the August of 1981. The MTV has produced sister channels in the US and affiliate channels across the world. The MTV network has also initiated a large number of native-language regional MTV affiliated channels in many countries around the world.
Evaluation of the ownership patterns of these five giant media companies
From a cross examination of the top global media houses, it was established that, these media houses are, universally – either, owned and run by the home governments or private owners, most times families.
For instance, the BBC is owned by the British government; the HBO, is jointly owned by the parent company, Time Warner; CNN owned by Time Warner, also; Nat Geo, which is owned by the ‘Australian/American media Conglomerate News Corporation,’ a parent company, which is chaired and partly owned by Rupert Murdoch.
The MTV is owned by the Viacom international Inc, which is a subsidiary of Viacom Inc, a company owned by National Amusements Inc. – A privately owned theatre company. The ownership models derived from the five companies, which is a representation of the ownership of leading media companies, may be summarized into four main groups.
These groups include the following classes: Media companies owned by family enterprises, like Nat Geo and MTV; those owned by States, like the BBC; those widely owned, on a partnership basis, like HBO; and the other classes of ownership, where the ownership varies from the three main classes (Demsetz & Lehn 77).
The patterns of ownership of these five global media companies, all indicated that media firms, especially those operating within highly developed states – are universally owned by the state or private owners.
The ownership structures depicted from the historical and the operational aspects of these companies, all pointed towards showing the autonomy of the controlling shareholders. In most of the cases, these shareholders are governments or the families who own the companies.
This ownership structure and pattern of control further indicated that there is extensive amenity prospection, mainly associated to the control benefits that are associated with the ownership of media companies. These prospective amenities may either take the form of, the desire for fame, or the political influence to be attained (Demsetz & Lehn 78).
However, from cross-examinations of media companies in poorer, developing countries, like those in Africa and Asia, the results showed a different ownership pattern.
This may be the effect of the major characteristics of these countries, including that they are characteristic with autocratic leadership models, lower levels of enrolment into education institutions, and increased extents of state intervention in the areas of the economy and vital resources of production.
As a result of these considerations, the effects include greater state ownership of media companies. Additionally, these countries – with higher state control of media companies – were characteristic with the following aspects: lower levels of press freedom; higher suppression of the political rights of citizens; and inferior governance.
Other characteristics that are related to the higher levels of state media control include poorly developed capital markets, and inferior service delivery, for instance in the area of health care. The last characteristic may be associated to the fact that state ownership of the media serves the interests of the often mismanaged governments (Demsetz & Lehn 77; Langdale 305).
An Evaluation of the Corporate Linkages of these five giant media companies (both with the outside world and amongst themselves)
The global media scene is primarily dictated by the recent, rapid developments within the areas of technology and cultural blending, as well as the cross border activities that call for linkages of the media industry. Also, the media industry is comprised of a majority of conglomerates, where many of the top Media companies operate like different entities, but are, in the real sense working together – or for one another.
An example from the five top media companies is the case of HBO and CNN, which are both owned by Time Warner, though they may operate like fully different, and non-related companies. This increased corporate linkage may also be attributed to the ongoing deregulation and the union of media and telecommunication systems.
The rise of the internet, which has played a major function in bridging the gap between the location of information and the place where the news are to be conveyed, is also another factor leading to the increasing level of corporate linkage between these top performers, as well as between them and other institutions and groups.
Another factor leading to the increasing level of corporate linkages among global media companies is the globalization process. This is mainly the case, because it brings about the consolidation, implantation, and the concentration of advertisement-based profit-making media, a case that slowly weakens the public sphere and the manual ways of information transmission.
In the area of globalization, it should also be noted that America, which is the home of most of these companies, is the provider of the evolutionary model, using which the global media system is advancing, a case that leaves these media companies with no option, but to adjust to the move of increasing corporate linkages.
Working together with America in fostering the globalization process, are seven other countries across the globe, these including the U.K, which is the home of BBC.
However, it should be noted that there are, also the defenses aimed at controlling or avoiding the globalization process. These defenses take place at the global, national and local spheres – which are mainly geared at preserving the uniqueness and the identities of these media companies and their host societies.
Increased interconnectivity in the modern world, is mainly as a result of the contemporary business, which is characterized by similar practices and goal orientation. These dynamics can be seen from the popularity of media like television formats –where both the integration of the economy and the standardization of content are evident.
However, despite the corporate linkages, it is possible to see the diversity of these different media companies, at a deeper level of focus. This is evident from the formats depicted by different media like Television, where ties to local and national cultures are still plainly evidently.
An example here can be drawn from the Latin American cases, which explicitly shows that Television is simultaneously shaped by national and global media economies and the pull from national and local cultures (Craves 76).
The political and the cultural implications of the discussed international media trends
The cultural implications of the international media changes can be attributed to the media convergence that creates areas of outstanding tension and transition towards brilliantly shaping the culture of the societies in question. The changes are evidently bringing about technological shifts from older cultural ways of doing things, to newer modes of achieving the same value.
The convergence further alters the relationship between existing technologies; the cultural genres and audiences in societies; markets and the industries – which inherently portray the cultural traits of the host societies.
The areas that will be considerably affected by the changing media standards include the following: audience measurement, the regulation of media content, the redesigning of the digital economy; and changing media ownership and control.
Other areas that are likely to reflect the implication of the media changes include the restructuring of media aesthetics, the re-definition of property rights, changing relations between consumers and sellers, as well as a reengagement of citizens (Golding 24; Kilborn 60).
The political implications of the international changes in media will be felt and portrayed through these core areas. The globalization of politics and political models to make them more like those of developed nations; a growing emphasis on historical aspects; and the expansion ad emphasis on political research from varied standpoints – for instance in areas like those covering labor and feminism.
Other areas include the shift from old to new media of communication; the growth of political activism due to the increased political awareness; and a general change in the political communication models in operation (Golding 24).
From the discussion, it was uncovered that the media in its different forms is controlled by different authorities including governments and private media partners.
The ownership of the top five media companies of the world is centered on state and private ownership, and the corporate linkages, which are particularly extensive, are the result of technological development, globalization and market diversification.
The political and the cultural impacts felts from the international media changes are reflective of the increased societal awareness and the changing interconnectedness from globalization and technological advancement.
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