Readability

The News 'Business'

New Yorker writer A. J. Liebling put it rather suc­cinctly: “Free­dom of the press is guar­an­teed only to those who own one.”

For many years, I dis­missed the notion that cor­po­rate power in the media had cor­rupted the news process. But I have had to rethink my posi­tion, grudg­ingly agree­ing with the left­ies who see prob­lems with cor­po­rate own­er­ship of news.

The left­ist freep​ress​.org has a use­ful web­site to doc­u­ment the con­cen­tra­tion of media own­er­ship at https://​www​.freep​ress​.net/​o​w​n​e​r​s​h​i​p​/​chart

As AT&T and Time Warner, the owner of CNN, wait for approval of a merger, I couldn’t help but ask whether this con­cen­tra­tion of busi­ness inter­ests is really good for news con­sumers. I doubt that the founders antic­i­pated this power.

Jour­nal­ists like to wrap them­selves in the First Amend­ment, which by the way was actu­ally the Third Amend­ment when the Bill of Rights was first writ­ten. The other two amend­ments failed in the rat­i­fi­ca­tion process, so jour­nal­ists really weren’t “first” in the grand thought process of the founders. More­over, the free­doms of reli­gion and speech pre­cede free­dom of the press in the First Amend­ment itself. But I digress.

Here is what Time Warner owns:

Com­pany Overview: Time Warner is the world’s second-​largest enter­tain­ment con­glom­er­ate with own­er­ship inter­ests in film, tele­vi­sion and print.

TV: One tele­vi­sion sta­tion and the Warner Broth­ers Tele­vi­sion Group; Warner Broth­ers Tele­vi­sion; Warner Hori­zon Tele­vi­sion; CW Net­work (50 per­cent stake); TBS; TNT; Car­toon Net­work; truTV; Turner Clas­sic Movies; Boomerang; CNN; HLN; CNN Inter­na­tional; HBO; Cin­e­max; Space; Infinito; I-​Sat; Fash­ion TV; HTV; Much Music; Pogo; Mondo TV; Tabi; CNN Español

Online Hold­ings: Warner Broth­ers Dig­i­tal Dis­tri­b­u­tion; TMZ​.com; KidsWB​.com

Print: Time, Inc.; 22 mag­a­zines includ­ing Peo­ple, Sports Illus­trated, Time, Life, InStyle, Real Sim­ple, South­ern Liv­ing, Enter­tain­ment Weekly, and For­tune

Enter­tain­ment: Warner Broth­ers; Warner Broth­ers Pic­tures; New Line Cin­ema; Cas­tle Rock; WB Stu­dio Enter­prises, Inc.; Telepic­tures Pro­duc­tions, Inc.; Warner Broth­ers Ani­ma­tion, Inc.; Warner Home Video; Warner Pre­mière; Warner Spe­cialty Films, Inc.; Warner Broth­ers Inter­na­tional Cinemas

Other: Warner Broth­ers Inter­ac­tive Enter­tain­ment; DC Enter­tain­ment; DC Comics

Here is the run­down for AT&T:

Com­pany Overview: AT&T is the second-​largest U.S. wire­less provider and the largest com­pany pro­vid­ing local phone ser­vice in the U.S. AT&T offers its wire­less ser­vices to over 97 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion and serves wired cus­tomers in 22 states. AT&T offers cable tele­vi­sion ser­vices in por­tions of its ser­vice ter­ri­tory under the brand name “U-​Verse.”

Does any­one truly believe that this merger would be bet­ter for peo­ple who want news and information?

Wal­ter Moss­berg, the dean of U.S. tech writ­ers, offered his assess­ment. “If this $85 bil­lion merger goes through, it would, in my view, rep­re­sent an unhealthy con­cen­tra­tion of power between a dis­trib­u­tor and a maker of con­tent,” he wrote last year. “For media com­pa­nies, for con­sumers, for adver­tis­ers, the best solu­tion is to keep dis­tri­b­u­tion and con­tent sep­a­rate, so con­sumers and cre­ators meet on a level play­ing field. AT&T, which seems more excited right now about own­ing media than run­ning a net­work, should be forced to choose whether it wants to be in one busi­ness or the other.”

Moss­berg sug­gested spin­ning off CNN into a sep­a­rate com­pany. I would pre­fer to see it die on its own.

Pres­i­dent Trump has hinted he opposes the merger, mainly because he doesn’t like CNN. I think he should oppose the merger because it would be bad for America.

But, as Liebling reminded us many years ago, “Peo­ple every­where con­fuse what they read in news­pa­pers with news.” That holds true today for TV, the inter­net, and many other “news” outlets.

New Yorker writer A. J. Liebling put it rather succinctly: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

For many years, I dismissed the notion that corporate power in the media had corrupted the news process. But I have had to rethink my position, grudgingly agreeing with the lefties who see problems with corporate ownership of news.

The leftist freepress.org has a useful website to document the concentration of media ownership at https://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart

As AT&T and Time Warner, the owner of CNN, wait for approval of a merger, I couldn’t help but ask whether this concentration of business interests is really good for news consumers. I doubt that the founders anticipated this power.

Journalists like to wrap themselves in the First Amendment, which by the way was actually the Third Amendment when the Bill of Rights was first written. The other two amendments failed in the ratification process, so journalists really weren’t “first” in the grand thought process of the founders. Moreover, the freedoms of religion and speech precede freedom of the press in the First Amendment itself. But I digress.

Here is what Time Warner owns:

Company Overview: Time Warner is the world’s second-largest entertainment conglomerate with ownership interests in film, television and print.

TV: One television station and the Warner Brothers Television Group; Warner Brothers Television; Warner Horizon Television; CW Network (50 percent stake); TBS; TNT; Cartoon Network; truTV; Turner Classic Movies; Boomerang; CNN; HLN; CNN International; HBO; Cinemax; Space; Infinito; I-Sat; Fashion TV; HTV; Much Music; Pogo; Mondo TV; Tabi; CNN Español

Online Holdings: Warner Brothers Digital Distribution; TMZ.com; KidsWB.com

Print: Time, Inc.; 22 magazines including PeopleSports IllustratedTimeLifeInStyleReal SimpleSouthern LivingEntertainment Weekly, and Fortune

Entertainment: Warner Brothers; Warner Brothers Pictures; New Line Cinema; Castle Rock; WB Studio Enterprises, Inc.; Telepictures Productions, Inc.; Warner Brothers Animation, Inc.; Warner Home Video; Warner Premiere; Warner Specialty Films, Inc.; Warner Brothers International Cinemas

Other: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment; DC Entertainment; DC Comics

Here is the rundown for AT&T:

Company Overview: AT&T is the second-largest U.S. wireless provider and the largest company providing local phone service in the U.S. AT&T offers its wireless services to over 97 percent of the U.S. population and serves wired customers in 22 states. AT&T offers cable television services in portions of its service territory under the brand name “U-Verse.”

Does anyone truly believe that this merger would be better for people who want news and information?

Walter Mossberg, the dean of U.S. tech writers, offered his assessment. “If this $85 billion merger goes through, it would, in my view, represent an unhealthy concentration of power between a distributor and a maker of content,” he wrote last year. “For media companies, for consumers, for advertisers, the best solution is to keep distribution and content separate, so consumers and creators meet on a level playing field. AT&T, which seems more excited right now about owning media than running a network, should be forced to choose whether it wants to be in one business or the other.”

Mossberg suggested spinning off CNN into a separate company. I would prefer to see it die on its own.

President Trump has hinted he opposes the merger, mainly because he doesn’t like CNN. I think he should oppose the merger because it would be bad for America.

But, as Liebling reminded us many years ago, “People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.” That holds true today for TV, the internet, and many other “news” outlets.