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February 1998, Week 3


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Matt McAllister <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 17 Feb 1998 08:49:48 -0500
text/plain (65 lines)
Hi everyone,
Laurence Jarvik wrote:
>Might I add that I call PBS a large media conglomerate in my book
>PBS:BEHIND THE SCREEN (Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA) coming in paperback
>at the end of February. Total revenues for the whole shebang and spinoffs
>are over $2 billion annually.
>Yanni, Barney, etc.
>Funny how the cited references somehow skip that fact. You can also check
To begin with, let me say that I absolutely agree that public broadcasting
is still a visible and influential entity in this country and of course is
worthy of study.  However, the implied attack on recent critical sources
about mega-media conglomerates I believe is unfair, and I think it is
unfair for two reasons.
First, although $2 billion is a significant figure, it is pretty small
potatoes compared to the largest of media giants on this planet.
To quote the Time-Warner Factbook, "The combined revenues of Time Warner
Inc. and Time Warner Entertainment, L.P.  were $20.9 billion in 1996, and
combined earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization
(EBITDA) were more than $4.29 billion."
Likewise, The Walt Disney Company brought in revenues of $18.7 billion,
with a profit of $1.5 billion, in 1996.
Revenues for Bertelsmann in 1996 were $14.7 billion.
Viacom brought in $12.1 billion in 1996.
Sony, which includes the electronics firm as well as Sony-Columbia, earned
$45.7 billion in 1996.
Even media corporations without significant national broadcasting interests
dwarf PBS.  Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the US, made a 1996
profit of $ 943 million on revenues of $ 4.4 billion (all of the above
information found on the companies' web sites).
Second, at least two of the authors writing about mega-media conglomerates
(and, I suspect, others) have written about the corporatization of public
broadcasting.  Pat Aufderheide (who does in fact discuss public
broadcasting in the originally cited _Conglomerates and the Media_ book,
see pages 166-170) has published articles critical of public broadcasting
in _The Progressive_ and _Critical Studies in Mass Communication_.  Bob
McChesney's award-winning _Telecommunications, Mass Media, & Democracy_
lays the historical and critical foundation for a discussion of why
commercial and public broadcast developed as they did in the US.
Matt McAllister
Department of Communication Studies, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA  24061-0311 USA  ph: 540-231-9830  fax: 540-231-9817
e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Department of Communication Studies at Virginia Tech Home Page:
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