Sunday, November 16, 2008

Media Hegemonies - Who Owns What

The Walt Disney Co.

When I was young the only thing that I could always identify with Disney was Mickey Mouse. But as I grew up, I realized that Mickey had more tricks up his sleeve than ‘The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King”, he was actually a small portion of a multi-billion dollar company – The Walt Disney Company.
But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when in class Ian brought up a web page from the Colombia Journalism Review on ‘Who Owns What’ and as a class we looked up exactly what the Walt Disney Company owned. To my surprise, the Walt Disney Company owns:

Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Films, Pixar
11 Broadcast Television stations, including ABC
18 Cable Television stations, including A&E and 80% of ESPN
41 Radio Stations
Walt Disney Records, Hollywood Records, Lyric Street Records
Around 17 Book publishing Imprints
16 Magazines, including 50% of US weekly
8 Parks and Resorts
and 16 other entertainment companies such as Baby Einstein and Disney Toys.

In a way, this somewhat frightens me. Because so many media outlets and forms of entertainment are owned by one company, the impact of their influence is a little overwhelming. Like we as consumers could so easily be influenced by Disney’s values and ideas, and we would have no idea, because it would be everywhere and eventually maybe even become a norm. Their ideas are projected to many different audiences, from young children through films and toys to adults through Disney’s many radio stations or magazines. They control such a huge part of our lives, and it would be very difficult to escape the ‘grasp’ that Disney has gained on us, and for those who are not fully aware of the media conglomerates, then it is an ‘invisible grasp’.

After reading Robert W. McChensney’s article “The New Global Media” on The Nation, I discovered that this is not unusual (since the nineties) for this “global oligopoly” to happen in the entertainment industry. And that specifically in the United States, the 5 large Media Companies have slowly been purchasing more and more of our media outlets.

This makes me miss the days with Disney influenced which animation film my babysitter would put on for me. I would have never thought ‘Mickey Mouse’ would have such as hold on me as a grew up, and from the looks of it his influence will continue to impact me long after I stopped watching him and Minnie.

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