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In journalism, mainstream media (MSM) is a term and abbreviation used to refer collectively to the various large mass news media that influence many people and both reflect and shape prevailing currents of thought.[1] The term is used to contrast with alternative media.

The term is often used for large news conglomerates, including newspapers and broadcast media, that underwent successive mergers in many countries. The concentration of media ownership has raised concerns of a homogenization of viewpoints presented to news consumers. Consequently, the term mainstream media has been used in conversation and the blogosphere, sometimes in oppositional, pejorative or dismissive senses, in discussion of the mass media and media bias.

United States

Main article: Media cross-ownership in the United States

In the United States, movie production is known to have been dominated by major studios since the early 20th century; before that, there was a period in time which Edison's Trust monopolized the industry.[citation needed] In the early 21st century, the music and television industries was subject to media consolidation, with Sony Music Entertainment's parent company merging their music division with Bertelsmann AG's BMG to form Sony BMG, and Warner Bros. Entertainment's The WB and CBS Corp.'s UPN merging to form The CW. In the case of Sony BMG there existed a "Big Five", later "Big Four", of major record companies, while The CW's creation was an attempt to consolidate ratings and stand up to the "Big Four" of American network (terrestrial) television (although the CW was actually partially owned by one of the Big Four in CBS). In television, the vast majority of broadcast and basic cable networks, over a hundred in all, are controlled by eight corporations: Fox Corporation, The Walt Disney Company (which includes the ABC, ESPN, FX and Disney brands), National Amusements (which owns Paramount Global), Comcast (which owns NBCUniversal), Warner Bros. Discovery, E. W. Scripps Company, Altice USA, or some combination thereof.[2]

Media mergers and concentration in the United States

Over time the rate of media mergers has increased, while the number of media outlets has also increased. This has resulted in a higher concentration of media ownership, with fewer companies owning more media outlets.[3]

Some critics, such as Ben Bagdikian, assailed concentration of ownership, arguing that large media acquisitions limit the information accessible to the public.[4] Other commentators, such as Ben Compaine and Jack Shafer, find Bagdikian's critique overblown.[4] Shafer noted that U.S. media consumers have a wide variety of news sources, including independent national and local sources.[4] Compaine argues that, based on economic metrics such as the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, the media industry is not very highly concentrated and did not become more concentrated during the 1990s and 2000s.[4] Compaine also points out that most media mergers are not purely acquisitions, but also include divestitures.[4]

One of the biggest mergers/acquisitions in the mainstream media world was Disney Acquiring 21st Century Fox and all of their assets. One of the main things that was accomplished with this merger was completing the rights to the rest of the Marvel movie franchise. Previously Disney did not have the rights to franchises such as X-Men and certain Spider-Man movie rights. With the acquisition they now do. 21st Century Fox was purchased for 71.3 billion dollars in March 2019.

The "Big five"

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (March 2022)
Conglomerate[5] Media Outlets 2018 Revenues
Comcast NBCUniversal: NBC and Telemundo, Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, 26 television stations in the United States and cable networks USA Network, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, Syfy, NBCSN, Golf Channel, E!, Olympic Channel, and the NBC Sports Regional Networks. Comcast also owns the Philadelphia Flyers through a separate subsidiary. $94.5 billion [6]
The Walt Disney Company Holdings include: ABC Television Network, cable networks ESPN, Disney Channel, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, FX, FXX, FX Movie Channel, A&E and Lifetime, approximately 30 radio stations, music, video game, and book publishing companies, production companies Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures and Blue Sky Studios, the cellular service Disney Mobile, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, and theme parks in several countries. Also has a longstanding partnership with Hearst Corporation, which owns additional TV stations, newspapers, magazines, and stakes in several Disney television ventures. $59.4 billion [7]
News Corp/Fox Corporation* Holdings include: the Fox Broadcasting Company; cable networks Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2; print publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post; the magazines Barron's and SmartMoney; book publisher HarperCollins.

(*) As of 2020, Two Murdoch companies, with publishing assets and Australian media assets going to News Corp, and broadcasting assets going to Fox Corporation.[8]

$39.4 billion ($9 billion News Corp [9] and $30.4 billion 21st Century Fox [10])
Warner Bros. Discovery Formerly the largest media conglomerate in the world, with holdings including: CNN, the CW (a joint venture with Nexstar Media Group and Paramount Global), HBO, Cinemax, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, HLN, NBA TV, TBS, TNT, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Warner Bros. Pictures, Castle Rock, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and New Line Cinema. $28.9 billion [11]
Paramount Global Holdings include: MTV, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, VH1, BET, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, Miramax, and Paramount Home Entertainment. CBS Television Network and the CW (a joint venture with Nexstar Media Group and Warner Bros. Discovery), cable networks CBS Sports Network, Showtime, Pop; 30 television stations; CBS Radio, Inc., which has 130 stations; CBS Studios; book publisher Simon & Schuster. Unknown (was previously Viacom and CBS Corporation before merging in 2019)

American public distrust in the media

Trust in the media declined in the 1970s, and then again in the 2000s. Since the 2000s, distrust in the media has been polarized, as Republicans have grown substantially more distrustful of the media than Democrats.[12]

United Kingdom

In the UK, during 1922, after the closure of many radio stations, the British Broadcasting Corporation started its first daily radio transmission and started to grow an audience.[13] Later that year John Reith, a Scottish engineer, would be appointed the first General Manager for the BBC.[13] Later on January 1, 1927, the BBC was fully established by Royal Charter and renamed the British Broadcasting Corporation with Reith as the first Director-General.[13] During November 1936 the BBC began to expand into television broadcasting and was the first broadcaster to start the trend of a regularly scheduled TV service.[14]

Today the BBC is one of two chartered public broadcasting companies in the United Kingdom. The second is ITV, Independent Television, which was established in 1955 as the first public commercial television company after the Television act of 1954 in an effort to break up the monopoly the BBC had on television broadcasting, gaining fifteen regional broadcasting licenses in less than twenty years.[15][16] Today the BBC and ITV are the two free to air digital services offered to everyone in the United Kingdom and each other's biggest competitors. The BBC has nine national television channels, BBC three, the first channel to switch from television to online, an interactive channel, ten national and forty local radio stations, BBC Online, and BBC Worldwide.[17] ITV currently holds thirteen of the fifteen regional broadcasting licenses in the United Kingdom that carries their multiple channels including ITV, ITVhub, ITV2, ITVBe, ITV 3, ITV4, CITV, ITV Encore, Britbox, a video-on-demand service in collaboration with the BBC to bring British television content to the United States and Canada, and Cirkus, their own video-on-demand service.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Chomsky, Noam, "What makes mainstream media mainstream", October 1997, Z Magazine, [1]
  2. ^ Steiner, Tobias. "Under the Macroscope: Convergence in the US Television Market between 2000 and 2014". Retrieved August 4, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Entertainment More: Infographic Media Corporation Mergers And Acquisitions These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America, Business Insider (June 14, 2012).
  4. ^ a b c d e Shafer, Jack (August 4, 2004). "The media monotony". Slate Magazine. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  5. ^ Ownership Chart: The Big Six. Free Press, 2009. (archived)
  6. ^ "Comcast 2018 Revenue". Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  7. ^ "Disney 2018 Revenue" (PDF). Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  8. ^ "News Corp officially splits in two". BBC News. June 28, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  9. ^ "News Corp 2018 Revenue". Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  10. ^ "21st Century Fox 2018 Revenue". Archived from the original on August 3, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  11. ^ "WarnerMedia 2018 Revenue" (PDF). Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  12. ^ Ladd, Jonathan M.; Podkul, Alexander R. (June 4, 2020). Suhay, Elizabeth; Grofman, Bernard; Trechsel, Alexander H (eds.). "Sowing Distrust of the News Media as an Electoral Strategy". The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Persuasion. pp. 426–454. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190860806.013.17. ISBN 978-0-19-086080-6. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c "History of the BBC-1920s". Archived from the original on April 9, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  14. ^ "History of the BBC-1930s". Archived from the original on April 9, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  15. ^ "About ITV/History". Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  16. ^ "Television Act of 1954". The National Archives. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  17. ^ "BBC at a glance". Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  18. ^ "About ITV/ What we do". Retrieved November 19, 2018.