FUN FRIDAY: Who owns what

This blog doesn’t go political. That’s one of the things I’m proudest of, honestly. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by politics, I think of this blog as a little oasis where home theater buffs, professionals, and people of every stripe can come together to learn, to enjoy, and every so often to get a bit of snarky commentary.

Yet, even I can’t ignore the growing fact that the wealth of the world is invested in an ever-shrinking number of companies. These companies control the food we eat, the way we travel, the entertainment and information we consume, the cars we drive, and even our beer.

In the entertainment world, it’s fair to say that this era of megaconglomeration has been going on for about 20 years, back to the days when AOL aggregated Time Warner, Turner, and several other properties, while NBC and Universal found themselves as part of Comcast. It’s continuing still with AT&T now seen as a likely purchaser of Time Warner and Sinclair Media (the largest company you’ve never heard of) picking up Tribune Media, a company that has hooks in more places than you’d imagine.

Those crazy wizards at Sploid have put together a whole set of infographics showing just how under 50 companies control the way you see and experience life. Some of them are a little dated and others are a little inaccurate but put together, they paint a picture.

Am I worried about the way that this is all going? Should you be? At least for now, there’s still a lot of diversity in the marketplace. People forget that 50 years ago, when people rarely left their local areas, they were still likely influenced by fewer than 50 companies. Those companies were smaller, but the world as certainly not a more diverse place just because there were thousands of smaller companies. You could argue that these big companies can influence more people in total, but it’s hard to know if that really means that they’re capable of changing the world. There’s so much more information out there today, and so many different sources, that I sincerely doubt that the people who make your snack cakes are going to be able to have much impact. Then again, maybe I’m hiding my head in the sand. Who knows?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.