With Disney (who already own several American media companies; ABC, ESPN) about to buy Twitter, and AT & T, an American communications company about to buy Time Warner, should be asking the question, is the continuously growing number of media industry monopolies good for us and should we be making a conscious effort not to consume their products in favour of more diverse media?
Many large media companies such as Murdoch’s BskyB empire survive on subscription and advertising fees, in which case they are influenced by other large and powerful corporations who can pay for advertising space. In both cases the influence is concentrated on a small group of individuals often propelled into power with early financial backing and influence from their parents. Consequently, the group deciding on a large proportion of media creation is decided by relatively few leading to the issue of both a lack of diversity and representation as well as creativity.
On the other side, the media industry is not a stable business to invest in, demonstrated by the high number of start up production companies that come and go on an annual basis. Having a financially stable company with large numbers of employees is both positive economically for the country they choose to reside in, as well as globally as stable continuous media connotes stable government and a public willing to invest in the consumption of creative media.
However, despite the advantages to having a long-lasting media empire, on a personal level I still feel uncomfortable with the idea of one company having so much power to influence the masses without any real competition. I maintain that large companies can easily go stale without new entrants and monopolies in business are never positive. They encourage a lack of innovation and no-where is this more important than in the media industry. We already struggle with a lack of diversity on screen and in print and this will only get worse with the attitude that large corporate monopolies tend to encourage. No business is too big to fail. If we allow large companies to continue without investing in new talent, which is often initially done by smaller independent companies, or to have corporate conglomerates who don’t take risks then we may pay the price in both advertising as well as entertainment.