Media 101: Who Owns What In The TV World
If you wanted to boycott a particular TV network because they canceled your favorite show, odds are it might be harder than you think. Take Fox's show "Dollhouse." It's one of those "on the bubble" shows and last week my fellow BlogHer CE Sweetney posted a plea to Fox not to cancel it. In the comment thread, one angry viewer, Bambi, threatened to boycott Fox and watch Hulu instead if "Dollhouse" gets cut. I had to give her the bad news that watching Hulu wouldn't hurt Fox in the least, because Hulu is partially owned by News Corp, which also owns Fox.
When another BlogHer CE, Nordette wrote in the thread that she was surprised Fox and Hulu were kissing cousins, I decided it was time for a post about who owns what in the modern TV/media family.
Incestuous relationships are everywhere. At a glance some of them only make sense on paper, but to media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone, those relationships are all part of their plans for world media domination.
At the end of this post I'll give you resources to check out more details of exactly who owns what, but first let me give you some examples of how hard it would be to put a dent in any network that did something you didn't like.
Suppose you were offended by Justin Timberlake's "Motherlover" video on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," or suppose you're considering cutting off the network if they dare to cancel "Chuck." Better be prepared to also ditch "The Real Housewives of New York, (Bravo), reruns of "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci Fi Channel), "Dog The Bounty Hunter" (A&E) and "Life After People" (History Channel). That's because NBC is owned by General Electric which also owns Bravo, Sci Fi Channel, History Channel, A&E, and all the little NBC clones like CNBC, MSNBC, and ShopNBC.
Pissed off that MTV never plays real music videos anymore? Complain to Sumner Redstone. He owns Viacom and tucked away in their corporate CD collection are MTV, VH1, VH1 Classic, CMT and BET. But you may have a problem if you have kids. In the world of kid TV, Viacom battles Disney's lineup of family cable fare with Nickelodeon, Noggin, and Nick, Jr. So if your kids love Sponge Bob (Nickelodeon) but you're highly offended by the crap, er...I mean programming on MTV, hard choices will have to be made.
Viacom also owns TV Land and Comedy Central for old timers like me.
Are you worried the Disney-owned ABC network might cancel "Castle" starring the very cute Nathan Fillion? Are you threatening to boycott if they do? Be prepared to also banish ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and all the other ESPN's fielding teams. Not to mention SOAPnet, Lifetime, and A&E (Disney and GE share ownership).
Don't like "Gossip Girl?" Think it's corrupting the morals of a generation? Go back to the Redstone family who own CBS which also partially owns the CW.
Remember last year when CBS aired an edited version of "Dexter." You were probably thinking, "Dexter" aired on Showtime, how did it get to CBS? That's because Showtime is owned by, you guessed it, CBS.
One of the other owners of the CW is Time Warner. Notice how you never catch CNN doing a negative story about shows on TNT or HBO? Maybe that's because they're all owned by the big TW. One good rule of thumb, if there's a Turner in the network's name, it's probably owned by Time Warner.
Finally we come to the Big Kahuna: Rupert Murdoch. If you're upset by the latest antics of Jack Bauer on "24," and decide you want to teach Fox a lesson, you'll also have to give up FX, Fox News Channel, Fox Movie Channel, Fox Sports, The National Geographic Channel and FSN. That's because Rupert owns News Corp and News Corp owns all of the above and more.
Now you might say, if that's the case, why are there "House" reruns on USA Cable? After all "House" airs on Fox. Well GE owns Universal and USA Cable. Though "House" airs on Fox, it's produced in association with Universal Media Studios, so that's why you see Hugh Laurie's, handsome, crusty mug on USA several times a week.
Which brings us back to Hulu. As of last week Hulu was owned by News Corp and GE but just cut a deal for Disney and ABC to buy in as well.
Have you got all that? I hope so because it would be too confusing to repeat.
The Cyber Dissident has some thoughts on these intricate media relationships and she doesn't like them one bit.
Mondo Times: A listing of television and entertainment media in North America.
A Tech Crunch report about Arianna Huffington's testimony before Congress about the future of journalism in this new media world.
Media Channel: As the media watch the world, they watch the media.
The Columbia Journalism Review has an index of who owns what. (the last update was in 2008)
Chris at Chris' Media Blog has a post about the reach of News Corp.
Extension Of My Mind has a post about the reach of Disney.
Cross Posted From BlogHer