WHO IS CORPORATE ART?
AFTER READING THIS ARTICLE, you may ask, "is the combined control of these 24 behemoths as pervasive as BIG BROTHER, the ultimate dictator in George Orwell's futuristic doom novel 1984? Well consider these two thoughts:
- These art/media conglomerates certainly don't have the single pervasive power of a 'Big Brother' but can you go one day without them intruding into your life?
- And remember, even 'Big Brother', the leader of Oceania was only one of 3! (The other two were Eurasia and Eastasia.)
HERE THEY ARE - each and every main WEASEL who has turned art and the media into GUM WITHOUT THE FLAVOR, PRESS RELEASE JOURNALISM, and STEPFORD WIFE CULTURE!
THE FIVE AMERICAN COMPANIES:
- TIME WARNER INC.: The #1 largest media company in the world. Here's how it works at Warners: Take a film from Warner Brothers Pix (or Castle Rock or MGM/RKO) - the #1 film company, and get a soundtrack from artists signed to the Warners Group: Atlantic, Elecktra, Warner, etc. - and promote it on the WB TV Network, or CNN (or any other Turner station), then, after its run in the theaters, put it on Warners Cable TV (#2 largest cable system. The #1 cable, TCI, owns massive stock in Warners). Then, write the book version of the movie for Little, Brown or Warner Books, and when it's old, re-release it as a Time-Life product! I didn't even mention HBO, ER, Murphy Brown, D C Comics, Sports Ilustrated, Six Flags Theme Parks, Atlanta Braves, and...oh, I'm stopping here.
- DISNEY: Magic Kingdom or just Mickey Mouse? Walt's company is now #2 media giant. There's the recent ABC/Cap Cities buyout that gave it ABC, a major TV network (plus assorted TV stations), the ABC Radio Network - 21 stations, the largest in the nation, even the fashion Bible Womens' Wear Daily. Add to this film: Touchstone/Buena Vista/Miramax/Disney Films, 11 newspapers, the Disney Channel, ESPN, assorted TV shows such as Home Improvement, Ellen, even Siskel & Ebert to give its movies good reviews. Add to that theme parks and now it has invaded Broadway with a major theater complex [read: put last nail in the coffin of].
- GENERAL ELECTRIC (GE): Nuclear power, light bulbs, etc. The house that Edison built is one of America's largest companies (5th at the time of writing this), but hey, everybody needs insurance, so it makes the engines for Air Force One and it owns NBC. So, Brokaw, where's that story on the evils of nuclear power?
- WESTINGHOUSE: Nuclear power, refrigerators, broadcasting, etc. Thirty percent of its sales are to the U.S. government. It owns CBS (60 minutes soft on nuclear power?), Group W Cable, and it already was #1 in radio stations (owning 39 to ABC's 21, though ABC's network is on 3,400 stations as compared with Westinghouse/CBS only on 1,900). THEN it bought #2 radio network, Infinity Broadcasting. Together they own 40% of all ad-driven radio in the U.S.!
- PARAMOUNT/VIACOM: When age-old (1912) Paramount Films (who in the 1940s was forced to sell its movie houses in a government-forced antitrust move - couldn't own both film and film houses THEN) joined forces with Sumner Redstone's Viacom, then moved up to the big time. Paramount owned Paramount Films, 7 TV Stations, the UPN TV Network, Simon & Schuster Publishing (nation's largest educational publisher), Pocket Books, MacMillan, etc. Viacom added MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and Showtime, 10 radio, 5 TV and TV cable companies. And somewhere along the the line, they bought Blockbuster Video and Music, Madison Square Garden and a few professional sports teams...but who's counting?
THE FIVE FOREIGN OWNED COMPANIES:
- SONY: The Japanese electronics maker (hardware) needed the software to go with its TVs, Walkmans, and video players, so it bought the American companies Columbia Music (big in the 1960s with a great library of hits) and Columbia Pictures (Sony, Columbia, Tri-Star). Then it bought a chain of theaters to play them in!
- NEWS CORP: (MURDOCH/FOX) The Aussie Murdoch is the largest Newspaper publisher in the world with 100 Australian newspapers and The London Times for starters. But that's just the tip of News Corp. There's Harper Collins Books, 20th Century Fox Films, 8 TV stations, the Fox TV Network, and to insure good reviews for his shows, he owns TV Guide too!
- BERTELSMANN AG: This German congolmerate is Europe's leading media group, so Achtung for these listings: BMG Music (RCA/Arista to you and me), BMG Music Club, Doubleday/Bantam/Dell books with the world's biggest book club, Random House, Knopf, Ballantine, Vintage, Crown, Fawcett, and assorted film, TV and radio to go along with them.
- SEAGRAMS: When the Canadian bottling giant was passed down a generation, the kid took his daddy's company and went Hollywood. He bought MCA from the Japanese giant Matsushita (who, like Sony, wanted American software. Unfortunately, it let Hollywood shysters run its businesses into the ground - though, in its defense, it managed to save executives' perks and salaries) Seagrams, who knows nothing about the arts, knows better than MCA what to do with: Universal Films, Polygram, A&M, Motown, assorted TV shows, a music company, MCA, a publishing co. (Putnam/Berkely), cable TV and Cineplex/Odeon Corp. (361 movie houses). Oh yes, Universal Studio Theme Parks and Spencer Gifts among others.
- THORN EMI: This British company is the third largest in Music, with Capital, EMI, Virgin, Etc.
THE 13 MEDIA COMPANIES:
- ADVANCE PUBLICATIONS: The largest privately held media group, also 8th largest U.S. cable. 24 newspapers, and magazines inculding Allure, Architechtural Digest, Brides, Conde Nast Traveller, Detour, Glamour, Gourmet, GQ, Mademoiselle, Self, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and the largest magazine of all Parade,included in the Sunday newspapers.
- GANNETT: USA Today, 82 dailies and 50 non-dailies, 11 radio stations, etc.
- DOW JONES & CO.: Wall Street Journal, Barrons, 28 newspapers, 7 TV stations, etc. Largest publisher of business information.
- NEW YORK TIMES: New York Times, Boston Globe, 22 dailies, 8 non-dailies, plus 16 magazines, including McCall's and Family Circle.
- WASHINGTON POST CO.: Washington Post newspaper, Newsweek, 6 TV stations, etc.
- READERS DIGEST: Readers Digest magazine and books (100 million readers).
- HEARST: 17 newspapers, assorted magazines: Esquire, Good Housekeeping, 12 TV stations, A&E and other cable channels, Avon and Manor Books.
- TIMES MIRROR: Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, and 6 more, plus magainzes including Field & Stream, Popular Science, etc., 4 TV stations and assorted radio stations.
- TRIBUNE CO.: Chicago Tribune, five more dailies, 14 TV stations and assorted radio stations.
- THOMSON: (Canadian owned) 39 Canadian dailies, 107 U.S. Dailies.
- KNIGHT RIDDER: 29 dailies plus information services, etc. That includes The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Miami Herald, San Jose Mercury News, and Detroit Free Press.
- COX: 18 dailies including The Atlanta Constitution, The Atlanta Journal, and The Austin American Statesman, 7 weeklies, 7 TV and 14 radio stations, plus the 6th largest TV cable operator.
- E W SCRIPPS: 19 newspapers, 10 TV, 5 radio and a TV cable station.
These statistics are as accurate as an Art Revolutionary outsider could make it at the time of publishing. The bulk of these facts are from Hoovers Handbooks on Business (US and foreign editions), The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian, and assorted magazine and newspaper clippings. For example, I wasn't sure if I should include Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishing which was bought by General Cinema (movie theaters) who also owns Neiman Marcus department stores - they may be a contender!