does he? Each of these media outlets - the radio station, the trade journal, both TV stations, the cable
station, and the magazine - may soon be owned by the same company, through a proposed merger of
Walt Disney Co. and Capital Cities/ABC.
Is the concentration of media ownership represented by Disney/ABC a problem, or, more speci
an ethical problem? On the surface, the creation of media giants may seem to have more to do with
business considerations than it does with morality. But media concentration and its effect on the
information you need to run your life are worth considering from an ethical point of view, especially
as such deals proliferate.
In broadcasting, concentration of ownership-already a trend - is becoming the rule as merger mania
hits the industry. If a proposed CBS-Westinghouse merger goes through, the conglomerate would own
15 TV stations (more than the law currently allows), not to mention 39 radio stations. Another
intended merger - of Time Warner Inc. and Turner Broadcasting - would produce the largest media
and entertainment conglomerate in the world, reaching more than 40 percent of cable households.
And a third deal - between News Corp. Ltd. and MCI - would make the products of Rupert Murdoch's
global media empire available through a broadcast network (Fox), TV stations, newspapers,
magazines and your home or business computer.
In the print media, concentration of ownership has long been the trend. Just after World War II, four
ve U.S. newspapers were independently owned. By 1989, only one in
ve was not the
property of a chain. In 1981, 20 corporations controlled most of the nation's 11,000 magazines. Only
seven years later, the number shrank to three corporations.
Ethics and the News: A Framework