MILESTONES IN MEDIA MONOPOLISM:
compiled by Rex Frankel, 1/19/2009
OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS, THE BIG 5 MEDIA CORPORATIONS BOUGHT UP THE MOST LUCRATIVE MEDIA ASSETS AND DUMPED THE LESS PROFITABLE ONES, ENDING UP WITH NEAR TOTAL CONTROL OF TV, CABLE AND FILM PRODUCTION, AND MOSTLY DUMPING PRINT, RADIO, AND RECORDED MUSIC.
Main Businesses: TV stations and network, cable channels, film and TV production and distribution, theme parks
Bought During the Bush Years: Universal Studios, Telemundo TV network, Bravo, Oxygen and the Weather Channel
1932-Feds make GE and Westinghouse sell stakes in RCA radio networks
1957-MCA Universal buys Paramount’s pre-1948 film library
1980--RCA sells Random House book publisher to Newhouse co.
1985-GE buys RCA, getting NBC TV network and stations
1986-GE sells RCA music division to Bertelsman of Germany. They eventually sell it to Sony.
1987-GE sells consumer electronics division of GE and RCA to Thomson of France
1987-NBC radio programming producer is sold to Westwood One, a firm now owned by CBS.
1988-NBC sells 5 of its radio station to Emmis Broadcasting
1989-Universal buys 1/3rd stake in Cineplex Odeon theaters. Stake is sold later to AMC Theaters
1989-NBC launches CNBC cable channel
1990-Universal and MCA is sold to Matsushita of Japan (now known as Panasonic)
1991-Polygram buys film producers Propaganda and Working Title Films and in 1992 buys Interscope Films. Polygram was jointly owned by Siemens and Philips of Europe.
1995 Universal is sold to Seagrams
1996-NBC and Microsoft launch MSNBC channel
1997-Universal buys October Films
1997-Universal buys out its partner in USA and Sci-Fi cable channels (Viacom)
1999-Universal buys Polygram pictures and recorded music co.
2000-Seagrams and Universal are sold to Vivendi of France. Deal is a disaster financially.
2001-Vivendi buys Houghton Miflin book publishing
2001-NBC buys Telemundo TV network which owns two stations in several major markets
2002-Vivendi sells Seagrams liquor business and Houghton Miflin book publishing
2002-NBC buys Bravo cable channel from Cablevision Corp. and MGM
2003-GE buys Universal Pictures leaving Vivendi with 20% stake in new NBC-Universal company. Vivendi keeps ownership of Universal recorded music division
2006-NBC buys Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants with Donald Trump
2007-NBC buys Oxygen cable channel from Oprah Winfrey
2008-NBC buys the Weather channel
Main Businesses: magazines, cable channels, film production and distribution
Bought during the Bush years: split the #3 cable system owner with their main competitor, Comcast (#1 in USA). Time Warner is the #2 largest cable system owner.
1944-Warners buys Looney Tunes cartoon studio and Bugs Bunny
1948-Warners sells film library to MGM
1967-DC Comics is bought by Kinney National Company
1969-Kinney National buys Warner Brothers, in 1972 Kinney spins off Warner Communications Co.
1972-Time inc. buys HBO pay channel
1978-Warner Communications buys cable system operator ATC
1982-CBS sells paperback publishing to Warners
1987-Time and Warner merge
1989-Warners buys Lorimar-Telepictures studios
1989-Time magazine publishing merges with Warner, which makes films and record
1991-Turner Broadcasting (18% owned by Time-Warner) buys Hanna-Barbera animation company
1992-Turner launches the Cartoon Network
1993-Turner merges with Castle Rock and New Line films
1996-Time-Warner buys Turner Broadcasting, getting CNN, TBS and other cable channels, and old MGM film library
1998-T-W sells Six Flags theme parks to Premiere Parks co.
1999-AOL buys Mapquest internet site
2000-Time-Warner merges with America Online. Deal is a huge money-loser.
2000-TW buys some magazines from the Tribune Company. It resells them in 2007 to Bonnier.
2003-TW sells half stake in Comedy Central to Viacom (already owned other half)
2004-AOL-TW sells music division to Edgar Bronfman
2005-TW buys remains of bankrupt Adelphia cable with chief rival Comcast Corp.
2006-TW sells its book publishing division to Hachette of France.
2006-TW buys half of Court TV channel from Liberty Media (already owned other half)
2009-Time Warner plans to spin off #2 US cable systems division to shareholders.
WALT DISNEY COMPANY:
Main businesses: TV stations and network, cable channels, film production and distribution, theme parks, books and magazines
Bought During the Bush Years: Pixar Animation, top producer of computer animated films
1943-feds force RCA to divest itself of ABC radio network
1960-Disney buys out stake in Disneyland from ABC
1984-ABC buys ESPN channel
1985-Capital Cities co, owner of TV stations and newspapers, buys ABC
1993-Disney buys Miramax films
1994-ABC buys out Viacom’s stake in the Lifetime channel
1995-Disney Buys ABC TV and radio networks
1996-Radio Disney network is launched
1997-Disney sells its 4 daily newspapers to Knight-Ridder
1997-Disney buys asset of Cinergi Pictures, producers of Die Hard series
1999-Disney sells its women’s magazines
2006-Disney buys Pixar Animation, which had been founded by GeorgeLucas
2006—ABC sells its music, talk and news radio networks and stations to Citadel Broadcasting, keeping ESPN Radio and Radio Disney stations
FOX—RUPERT MURDOCH-NEWS CORPORATION:
Newspapers in USA, Australian and UK, cable channels, TV stations and network, magazines, book publishing, internet sites
Bought During the Bush Years: myspace.com and Wall Street Journal
1935-Century Pictures and Fox Film merge to form 20th Century Fox
1977-Murdoch buys NY Post
1985-Murdoch buys Fox Pictures and also buys 7 TV stations from Metromedia to set up TV network. Murdoch buys the Boston Herald and Chicago Sun-Times but later sells them
1987-Murdoch buys Harper and Row book publishers
1988-Murdoch buys TV Guide and Seventeen magazine
1988-Murdoch buys William Collins book publisher
1991-Murdoch sells several magazines
1995-Sets up Fox sports channels in partnership with TCI, later brings in channels owned by Cablevision in east coast
1996-Fox News channel is launched
1996-Fox buys New World Communications, getting 10 TV stations
1997-Buys and in 2003 sells L.A. Dodgers baseball team, keeps broadcast rights
1997-Fox/Liberty Media buys control of FitTV channel
1999-Fox trades stock to Liberty Media for full control of Fox Sports channels
1999-Fox sells TV Guide to Gemstar corp.
1999-Murdoch buys William Morrow and Avon books from Hearst
Buys and later sells DirecTV satellite TV distributor
2000-Fox buys 10 Chris-Craft TV stations, gaining second channels in several major markets
2001-Sells Fox Family channel to Disney, had bought it from Pat Robertson in 1997
2001-Fox sells its 33% stake in the Golf channel and Outdoor Life to Comcast, getting full ownership of Speedvision channel in deal.
2003-Murdoch buys DirecTV from General Motors
2005-Murdoch buys myspace.com
2006-Murdoch trades DirecTV to Liberty Media in exchange for Liberty’s 19% stake in News Corp.
2007-Murdoch buys Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Company. To finance the deal, Fox sells 9 TV stations in smaller market.
Main businesses: TV stations and network, billboards, radio stations, film production and distribution, book publishing, cable channels
Bought During the Bush Years: rest of Comedy Central, and DreamWorks Pictures
1938-CBS buys Columbia record label
1964-CBS buys NY Yankees baseball team, sells in 1973
1965-CBS buys Fender guitar co.
1970-Viacom is formed when feds make CBS divest its ownership of TV show producers and syndicators
1981- MTV-launched 1981 by Warner Communications and American Express
1985-Viacom buys out partners, gets full ownership of MTV, VH-1, Showtime, the Movie Channel and Nickelodeon
1985-Mutual Broadcasting radio network is sold by Amway to Westwood One. NBC sells its radio network to Westwood One.
1987-Redstone buys control of Viacom
1987-CBS sells off it book publishing division to Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
1988-CBS sells recorded music division to Sony
1993-Viacom buys Paramount Pictures
1993-Paramount buys Macmillan book publishing
1994-Viacom buys Blockbuster video rental stores
1994-Viacom sells Madison Square Garden and 2 sports teams to partnership of Cablevision and ITT.
1994-Infinity Radio buys Westwood One
1995-Viacom sells its cable systems to TCI (which eventually sold out to AT & T, which sold them to Comcast)
1995-CBS is sold to Westinghouse Corp, which owned 8 CBS TV affiliates, 18 radio stations, the Nashville Network cable channel and 31% of Country Music TV channel. Eventually most of Westinghouse’s non-media assets are sold off and company is renamed CBS.
1995-Viacom launches UPN TV network using Chris-Craft’s network of stations
1995-Viacom spins off its local cable TV systems, which TCI buys.
1996-CBS buys Infinity Radio getting 77 stations and up to 6 stations in several major markets.
1997-CBS buys American Radio Systems, getting 98 stations
1999-Viacom and CBS merge, with Redstone in full control.
1999-CBS buys Outdoor Systems billboard firm, largest in USA
1999-CBS buys King World-distributor of shows like Oprah, Wheel of Fortune
1999-Westwood One buys Metro Networks, producer of radio traffic reports
2000-Viacom buys Black Entertainment TV cable channel.
2003-Viacom buys other half of Comedy Central from Universal
2004-Viacom spins off Blockbuster video stores to shareholders, writing off big loss
2005-to boost stock price, Redstone splits CBS and Viacom in two, though he still controls them; CBS writes off $18 billion loss from purchase of overpriced radio and billboard assets
2005-Paramount buys DreamWorks pictures
2006-CBS sells Paramount’s 5 theme parks to Cedar Fair, owner of Knotts Berry Farm in L.A area.
2007-CBS sells off 39 radio stations and 10 TV stations in smaller markets