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May 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 28 May 1994 22:10:37 EDT
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On Sat, 28 May 1994 11:18:00 CDT Chad Dell said:
>My suspicion is that as the US media/film conglomerates all become more fully
>vertically integrated and self-contained, the whole issue of the vertical
>integration of the industry will finally be revisited by the Justice
>At minimum, as media scholars, we live in interesting times.  And it makes the
>teaching of intro media courses increasingly challenging.
Part of the challenge is both theoretical and factual.
The anti-trust actions against the major studios started in 1921 and
were not resolved until two Supreme Court judgements and subsequent consent
The basic argument was that the organization of the industry under MPPA
was anti-competitive in fairly simply fashion.  By owning theatres the
studios were able to restrict access to the market by independent
producers except those who has something to contribute to the overall
system.  Samuel Goldwyn, David Selznick, and Twentieth Century-Fox all
produced reliable product that could fill out double bills and sometimes
play at the top of the bill -- to the profit, ultimately, of the major firms
owning theaters.  Independent theaters were however were limited from the
market, they could not easily get product they could show profitably.
The older system was simply straight line: film factory => distribution =>
exhibition.  The film studios, e.g., did not own any substantial
broadcasting interest which was the only competitive mass entertainment
Today's situation is much more complex.  The multiple outlets for
product open the market in ways that were inconceivable fifty years
The economic structral situation complicates any attempt to analyze
economic integration in simple terms.  Chad alludes to Murdock and
World Communication without noting that Murdock has global interests
in publishing (News Corp.) and overseas cable and DBS distribution.
Cal Pryluck, Radio-Television-Film, Temple University, Philadelphia
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