1. I would thank Ethan Tussey for his assistance with creating the charts used in this essay. Presently the Big Six are Time Warner, Disney, NBC Universal, News Corporation, Viacom and Sony. [return to page 1 of essay]
2. I would argue that the primary exceptions to the film studio being the public face of a conglomerate are NBC Universal and News Corp. NBC is actually billed higher than Universal on the corporate masthead and that alone marks the network (despite its troubles since the merger) as more prominent than the film business in the corporate image. Lastly, News Corp. has the most visible figurehead in Rupert Murdoch and his very public influence over the Fox network has probably made the broadcast property more central to the company’s public image than any other, regardless of their relative economic importance. Disney is also widely recognized for its intellectual property and theme parks, perhaps more than its film studio.
3. For example, see Paul Grainge, Brand Hollywood (New York: Routledge, 2008) and Thomas Schatz, “The Return of the Hollywood Studio System” in Erik Barnouw, et.al. Conglomerates and the Media (New York: The New Press, 1997).
4. See Michele Hilmes, Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990), Christopher Anderson, Hollywood TV (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994) and Frederick Wasser, Veni, Vidi, Video(Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001) for three outstanding examples.
5. The Financial Interest and Syndication Rules were a 1970 FCC regulation preventing networks from having ownership stakes in the prime-time programming that they aired. This kept the studios—the biggest producers of television—from owning the networks and therefore maintained a boundary between the two industries that was dismantled when the rules were completely repealed in 1995. The rules did not apply to cable, nor did they apply to Rupert Murdoch who managed to get waivers from the FCC when he united 20th Century Fox studios with the Fox network in 1985. Murdoch did not broadcast enough hours to be considered a full-fledged “network”—he made sure to have a schedule just short of the 15 hours of prime-time programming per week that defined a network as such—so he was able to avoid being regulated in the same fashion as his competitors. [return to page 2 of essay]
6. The following year, Time gained complete control of HBO. For details, see Megan Mullen, "The Pre-History of Pay Cable Television: An Overview and Analysis," Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 19:1, 1999, p. 51.
7. Information on company holdings taken from Annual Reports of Time Warner.
8. WB, NBC and HBO from Moerk, Christian and Michael Williams, “Moguls Swat GATT-Flies” Variety, November 8, 1993, p. 62; and McElvogue, Louise, “HBO Takes a More Global View of TV,” Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1995.
9. Schapiro, Mark, “The Cable Guise: When Communism Crashed, HBO Rewrote the Rules,” The Nation, November 29, 1999, p. 20.
10. These channels were ultimately combined with HBO Slovakia and Romania to create HBO Central Europe in 1999. For a discussion of HBO abroad, particularly in Central Europe, see Timothy Havens, Global Television Marketplace, London: BFI, 2006, pp. 147-150.
11. Tim Arango, “Better-Than-Expected Profit is Reported by News Corp,” New York Times, November 4, 2009,
12. The proposed deal was for Comcast to own 51% of NBC Universal and GE to retain 49% of the company. As of this writing, the merger is undergoing extensive regulatory review. The new company is not expected to have any problems clearing that hurdle.
13. James, Meg, “Comcast to Buy Control of NBC Universal in $30-billion Transaction,” Los Angeles Times, December 4, 2009,
14. Georg Szalai, “Zucker Mum on Comcast Deal,” Media Week, November 19, 2009,
15. Claire Atkinson, “Comcast, G.E. Announce Deal on NBCU,” Broadcasting and Cable, December 3, 2009,
16. Sam, Schechner, Jeffrey McCracken, and Max Colchester, “Comcast, GE Set to Unwrap NBC Universal Pact,” Wall St. Journal, December 3, 2009, B1. This story provides the information for the chart detailing the holdings of the merged company as well.
17. Arango, Tim, “News Corp. Loss Shows Trouble and Dow Jones,” New York Times, February 5, 2009,
18. Arango, Tim, “Broadcast TV Faces Struggle to Stay Viable,” New York Times, February 27, 2009,
19. Keynote address delivered by Jeff Zucker, President and CEO, NBC Universal, at the annual meeting of the National Association of Television Program Executives, Las Vegas, Nevada, January 29, 2008.
20. Presently, most cable companies are withholding content from digital distribution while a subscription-based service also known as the “TV Everywhere” concept (or, as Free Press calls it, “TV Nowhere”) is developed. Film companies are reevaluating their distribution windows and searching for direct payment models in the digital arena that can help shore up the stagnating theatrical and DVD business.