Media company

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Media companies are companies that operate or produce journalistic media. They create social publicity and thus differ from companies in other industries and are subject to their own media law provisions. They are essential authors and carriers of fashion and opinion formation in the population. Because of their real or assumed power of interpretation and their ability to influence public opinion and political developments ( agenda setting ), the large media groups in particular are at the center of media-political and social debates. Media groups Economic are corporations in the media sector. They are amalgamations of a large number of legally independent sole proprietorships that typically generate the majority of their sales with press, radio, film, music or online content. Some media groups have budgets equal to the size of nation states . The six media groups with the highest turnover in the world are US-owned. Comcast leads the ranking with € 48.700 billion (fiscal 2013). The corporations Google , The Walt Disney Company , News Corporation and Time Warner occupy places two to five. In eighth place is the largest European media group, the German Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA with sales of € 16.065 billion in 2013. As the engines and moderators of globalization , media groups have economic and opinion-forming power.


The press groups of the 19th century, as they were mainly in the USA, Great Britain and the German Reich , formed the basis on which larger media companies were built. The rotary press , popular education, and access to capital fueled industrialized press production and gave birth to the form of newspaper as we know it today. With the New York Sun (1833–1950) , Benjamin Day published the first Penny Press newspaper around the mid-19th century, a paper that was sold at a low price to attract a large audience and the interest of advertisers . At the turn of the century, press barons such as James Gordon Bennett Jr. , William Randolph Hearst , Frank A. Munsey and Joseph Pulitzer embodied the new type of publisher. As innovative and aggressive publishers, their print products rely less on culture and in-depth information than on broad-based, screaming journalism. They spread news that was often enriched with sensational bites. Britain produced some influential media moguls, the Harmsworth brothers ( Lord Northcliffe , Lord Rothermere and Sir Lester Harmsworth ). By 1920 these three gentlemen owned the largest media conglomerate in the western world.

In Germany, Rudolf Mosse (including the founder of the Berliner Tageblatt ) began in 1867 with his newspaper advertisement expedition with the daily production and distribution of newspapers in Berlin, which brought him high profits, but also imitators and competitors. Berlin's Kochstrasse was transformed into a newspaper district , analogous to London's Fleet Street . From Kochstrasse, Leopold Ullstein competed with Mosse with his Neue Berliner Tagblatt and the Vossische Zeitung, as well as August Scherl with his Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger and Die Woche . However, Alfred Hugenberg , General Director of Krupp AG from 1909 to 1918 , built up the first group from 1919 that operated across media. Participations in various newspapers were combined under one roof with photo services , press agencies , advertising and correspondence services , advertising agencies and even with a film production company, the UFA . Last but not least, the liaison between media and politics becomes clear in the person of Alfred Hugenberg, which has now become a global tradition. Hugenberg influenced politics through his media organs and is considered a supporter of Hitler.

The inventions and refinements of radio, photo, film technology, telegraphy and the advent of music and other data carriers accelerated the process of business formation in the media sector in the 19th century and ensured its economic success. In the USA in the 1920s, the commercial radio system emerged. Inventions in France and the USA contributed to the further development of film technology. Cinemas mutated from the fairground spectacle into permanent facilities in the big cities. The popularity with viewers and the profits that came with it encouraged American entrepreneurs to found Hollywood studios, which covered the entire exploitation chain, from long-term engagements with screen stars to film production, sales and exploitation . At one point only five US film studios generated 60% of worldwide cinema revenues. The draft horses of the studio system were called William Fox ( Fox Film Corporation ), Adolph Zukor ( Paramount Pictures ) or Harry , Sam , Albert and Jack Warner ( Warner Brothers ). In the 1950s, television was added as a serious medium. The companies of Randolph Hearst and Reinhard Mohn ( Bertelsmann ) can be seen as the first integrated and exemplary media groups in the world.

Younger development

In the wake of the massive mergers in the media sector too, there were only a few “single-origin” companies left at the beginning of the 21st century, which for example only focused on music or cinema productions. Exceptions are giants like Sony BMG Music Entertainment . Conglomerates like Bertelsmann directly or indirectly control a whole spectrum of media or media services. In addition to these conglomerates, which mainly address a broad audience, there are large corporations that specialize in specialist information , such as Bloomberg LP , Reed Elsevier or the Thomson Corporation .

All international media companies face the current challenge of combining their business divisions of the Old Economy with those of the New Economy with restructuring, cooperation or mergers with special providers (e.g. advertising marketers) or rapidly growing Web 2.0 platforms ( MySpace , YouTube ) without knowing it how these will develop in the future and make money. However, technical progress and global competitive pressure are driving large corporations to grow. They are expanding their fields of business and expanding on their national and international markets. In addition, they often enter into partnerships with competitors (Google Inc. with Yahoo Inc. for advertising marketing) or with financial investors. The influence of the latter is increasing on the media industry as well as on companies in other sectors.

Media groups in the narrower sense are companies whose strategic focus is on content production in the areas of print, TV, film or the Internet. Content distributors such as telecommunications and infrastructure providers, cable network operators, online providers and software providers such as Microsoft or distributors such as Google Inc. , who do not pursue content production as their core business, are closely related to the media groups. The dependency on each other grows. Today, some US cable network operators, especially in the local area, have significant influence on the distribution of programs or sometimes act as content producers themselves by operating TV stations or delivering online offers, such as the US company Comcast . In 2011, the search engine operator Yahoo and in 2012 Google were added to the list of media companies of significant journalistic importance.

German media groups after 1945

The publications Bild-Zeitung , Hörzu and Die Welt from Axel Springer conquered the German market after the Second World War and the smashing of the Nazi press trust by the Allies . The Hamburg-born Axel Caesar Springer was the publisher who managed to build the first successful and politically influential post-war German press company. Like no other medium in Germany, the Springer press became a symbol of journalistic and political power. From the extra-parliamentary opposition , especially during the 1960s, the Springer media were under attack ("Expropriated Springer!"), On the other hand also from SPD politicians like Gerhard Schröder ("To govern I only need pictures, bams and telly" ) used for publicity purposes. The German Bertelsmann AG exemplarily shows the development of an integrated media group. After Bertelsmann had rebuilt its book club network in the post-war years, they entered the music business in 1958 with the establishment of the record label Ariola and in 1964 with the takeover of Universum Film (UFA) in the film industry. In 1969 Bertelsmann bought into the Hamburg publishing house Gruner + Jahr . Entry into the motion picture and television industries took place in the 1960s, but progress was slow.

In addition to Bertelsmann and Springer, the Georg von Holtzbrinck publishing group , Hubert Burda Media , the Bauer Media Group , the Funke media group and the Weltbild publishing group are among the largest German media companies. The public broadcasters ARD and ZDF and the private television company ProSiebenSat.1 also fall into this category. In 2007, ARD was ranked 18th in the list of the world's largest media companies with a budget of more than six billion euros.

US media groups

The sixth largest media company in the world, Time Warner , emerged in 1989 from the merger of the magazine publisher Time Inc. with Warner Communications (emerged from the film studio Warner Bros. ) and later with America Online , Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System , as well as other international ones Corporations were made up of sole proprietorships that originally neither operated in their core business area nor were they necessarily located in the country of the group headquarters. Phases of business combinations are interspersed with phases of breakdown or outsourcing. Corporations such as Viacom , Clear Channel or Dish Network (the latter is a spin-off from EchoStar ) have disentangled their businesses in recent years, divested parts of the company or founded companies. The aim of such restructuring is to increase sales by focusing on core competencies in order to improve in a few areas and to give the company a clearer internal and external profile.

The strongest momentum since the introduction of private television has been triggered by digitalization in media companies, which allows new forms of media production, bundling, distribution and worldwide use. From the beginning and still today, the online sector has been a speculative business field with an open development direction, as Time Warner experienced with the failed AOL acquisition and the Georg von Holtzbrinck publishing group with the acquisition of StudiVZ in different ways. Traditional media companies buy internet companies in spite of the low value creation prospects in order not to miss the connection to the mega-medium, to participate in the redistribution of advertising money or to rely on cross-media advertising cooperations, like the company Google Inc., which launched satellite TV in 2007 Vendor Dish Network signed an agreement to use its pay-per-click advertising model to generate revenue on television.

Convergence and media manager

In the TIME industries ( telecommunications , information technology, mass media and entertainment) the boundaries are blurring. In addition, the type of classic "media mogul" with political intentions, which today basically only Rupert Murdoch embodies in its purest form, is dying out . In contrast, there are more figures like Silvio Berlusconi or Michael Bloomberg , who use the media to push their way to the political front. Media entrepreneurs of a newer type provide e.g. For example, the Google managers Sergey Brin , Larry Page and Eric Schmidt represent. They do lobbying in the background and rely on cooperation with competitors (Google Inc. e.g. with Yahoo Inc.). It looks as if the future belongs to visionary media entrepreneurs who are economically, technically and journalistically competent and who exercise more or less open political power. The new managers still have to prove whether they can assert themselves in a confusing, fast-moving market in the long term. The fact that the new media entrepreneurs not only collect advertising money, but also exercise political power is exemplified by the agreement between Google Inc. and the Chinese government, which led to the blocking of Google services in China.


  • Ben H. Bagdikian: The New Media Monopoly . Beacon, Boston 2004, ISBN 0-8070-6187-5 .
  • Lutz Hachmeister , Günther Rager (eds.): Who controls the media? The 50 largest media groups in the world. 2005 yearbook . CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-52832-5 .
  • Claudia K. Huber: media groups. In: Lutz Hachmeister: Basics of media politics. A manual . DVA, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-421-04297-2 , pp. 260-267.
  • Wolfgang Seufert: media economy. In: Bernad Batinic (Hrsg.), Markus Appel (Hrsg.): Medienpsychologie . Springer, Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-46894-3 , pp. 271-292.
  • Arnd Joachim Garth: media management. Cornelsen, 2009

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. "
  2. ^ Quotes from Gerhard Schröder at Wikiquote
  3. Ranking - The 10 largest German media groups 2007 .
  4. Ranking - The 50 largest media groups 2007 (accessed April 16, 2008)
  5. Ranking - The 50 largest international media groups 2014 in the IfM's media database
  6. ^ Time Warner Inc. in the IfM's media database
  7. Master of Search Seeks Mastery of the TV Dial . In: New York Times. April 3, 2007.
  8. Google's China portal inaccessible in Shanghai, Beijing ( Memento from May 20, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) from March 2, 2006.