Media Ownership: Crash Course Media Literacy #8
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Media Ownership: Crash Course Media Literacy #8


Hey, check it out.
I just got this new phone. Well, kind of – I’m renting it for a couple
bucks a month. But really that’s part of a bundle – you
know, I’ve got my cell phone, my internet,
my cable. All one bill, which is pretty convenient. The phone is made by another company of course,
but they have this exclusive deal with the bundle people. And the bundle people have thought a deal
with the streaming service people, so now I
can stream movies all the time. And the streaming service I use has a deal
with my favorite TV channel, so I can watch
all my shows. And the TV people just bought my favorite
comic book franchise, so soon I’ll be swimming
in new superhero movies. And the comic book people will be raking in
the cash. Kind of, uh, complicated, no? So many deals and bundles and acquisitions
to watch for. It makes you wonder, who runs all this stuff? Who owns the media? Sure, maybe you’ve been keeping track of
who owns your favorite media franchises like Star Wars (that’s Disney) or Marvel (uh,
also Disney) or Harry Potter (Warner Brothers,
but also NBC). That way you can judge who’s going to do a great
job with your favorite storylines or totally ruin them
with the worst casting ever oh my god why. The media at large, everything from newspapers
you read to the apps on your phone, are part of a
big web of deals and partnerships and mergers. A very tangled, kind of incestuous, web. Sometimes these complex relationships work
out well for the consumer. But sometimes this tangled web traps the
consumer like a juicy little fly just waiting to be eaten by
the big bad spider. That’s why today we’re talking all about
media ownership – we’re going to figure out how ownership impacts your
everyday lives AND we’re gonna talk about the history
of media ownership AND…no, that’s it for today. But that’s plenty. [Theme Music] Ready for your head to spin a bit? So.
Who really owns “the media”? If you look at things from the end of 2017,
the media ownership landscape looks like this: Walt Disney Company owns ABC and the Disney
Channel of course. Plus EPSN, Miramax and Pixar, Marvel
Entertainment and Publishing, Buena Vista Records,
and over 270 radio stations. Plus their theme parks and tons of other related
companies. Comcast Corporation owns NBCUniversal – that
means CNBC, MSNBC, too – plus channels like
Telemundo, USA Network, Bravo and more. Plus Hulu and and the Universal Studios theme
parks. They even own the Philadelphia 76ers and the
Philadelphia Flyers. News Corp. owns FOX – including Fox News
and FX. They also own the Wall Street Journal, the
Daily News and the New York Post, HarperCollins,
and 20th Century Fox. Hearst Corporation owns 20 U.S. magazines
like Cosmopolitan and Esquire, plus 31 television
stations. Viacom owns MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy
Central, and BET among its 160 cable channels,
plus Paramount Pictures. CBS Corporation owns all the CBS-named
things, 29 TV channels and 130 radio stations,
plus three book publishers. And this is all just the tip of the iceberg. I guarantee that this ownership web is already
obsolete as new deals have gone through. In fact, as we were shooting this episode,
Comcast, Disney, and Fox had all been
discussing a possible merger. But don’t worry, we prepared for that: There was a big merger! There wasn’t a big merger! There was something like a merger, but it
was more complicated than we predicted! But all this talk of mergers and ownership
begs the question: who cares? You do. Or, rather, you will.
After you hear the story of AT&T. The year is 1877 and Alexander Graham Bell
and his father in law start the Bell Telephone
Company. Over time, Bell becomes the dominant telephone
provider and is the first to build a nationwide
long-distance telephone network. That’s when they’re renamed: the American
Telephone and Telegraph Company. For almost 100 years, AT&T owns every part
of the telephone system – from the wires
and lines to the actual phones. Yes, literally. Until the mid-1980s, if you had an AT&T phone,
you had to rent it from the company. Kind of like you rent a modem for your internet
now. In the early 1900’s AT&T established themselves
as a walled garden. That meant it was a closed system that was
not interoperable with other systems or companies. In fact, they refused to let rival companies work
with them – they’d just buy them out instead. In 1915, for instance, they bought Western
Electric, one of the providers of their phone
equipment. Once they owned them, they made it so that
only official Western Electric equipment could
connect to the AT&T network.. Jump ahead to 1934. President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes
the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is meant to implement a national radio
and wire service in the U.S. But the FCC also has the authority to examine
AT&T’s business. The question was whether AT&T’s control
over every part of the phone system, or vertical
integration, was in violation of the law. But the FCC approves of AT&T’s business – and
the company is free to dominate the market for
decades, becoming bigger, and bigger. Eventually, though, AT&T becomes too big.
Like way too big. And the anti-trust lawsuits start. Anti-trust laws are what exist to try and
prevent monopolies – when a single company
dominates an entire market or industry. Monopolies are bad in a lot of ways. A company with a monopoly can overcharge
customers or under deliver services because
there’s simply no competition. Preventing monopolies, or if you have to,
breaking them up, protects consumers and
encourages competition. And by the 1980s, more than a century after the
founding of the Bell company, those anti-monopoly
efforts finally start to make a difference. In 1982 AT&T starts letting people buy their
own phones, a good first step. But in 1984, the monopoly really breaks up,
and the company separates into 7 different,
smaller companies. At the time, some people thought the break up of the
AT&T monopoly was bad – it seemed so convenient
to get all your phone maintenance in one place. When it did break up, though, we got cool new inventions
like answering machines, three-way calling, and caller ID
– all thanks to an outbreak of competition. Trust me, those things were really cool back then. Today, companies try to dominate markets through
new versions of vertical integration. Think: do you have one of those bundles? You might get your TV service, internet, and
cell phone service from the same company. These companies own the world’s fiber optic
cables, where the internet flows. In fact, where the last 100 years of anti-trust
media has largely been about phones, these days
it has way more to do with the internet. But that’s where it gets a bit dicey. Let’s head into the Thought Bubble: In a world with net neutrality, a corporate
stronghold on the internet isn’t too bad. You pay for internet access and you use it
pretty much however you want. The net is neutrally accessible from different
internet service providers, or ISPs. If your ISP stinks or is too slow, you can
often pay for a different service if there
are options in your area. But the ISPs believe that, since they’re
delivering you a service, they should determine
how it’s delivered. They’d like to create tiered services, where
if you pay more you get faster internet. Basically, they want to use their vertical
integration to create more monopolies. Imagine the internet is a road and the content
you want is a car. ISPs would like to create a slow lane and
a fast lane. Or maybe a slow, medium, and fast lane. Depending on what you want or can afford,
you’d pay for that speed. If ISPs could decide to create a slow lane
and a fast lane, you can see how they could
abuse that power pretty quickly. We wouldn’t get a fast lane and a faster
lane. We’d get a “so slow you want to smash your
computer on the ground” lane and a “probably the
speeds you have now but twice as expensive” lane. As we know, internet access is crucial to
thriving in the digital age, and hiking up prices
would box some people out entirely. Or, to put it more graphically, some people would be
in the lifeboats and some people would be Jack and
Rose, floating on a door in the middle of the ocean. Until Jack freezes to death even though he
TOTALLY could have fit on the door. Thanks, Thought Bubble.
I guess. There are more consequences to net neutrality
than consumer pricing. Without net neutrality, ISPs have the power to cut
off or speed up certain content – like, say, their
business partners or their sister companies. Certain cars wouldn’t even be allowed in
the slow lane – you’d have to pay extra. So if you have Comcast as your ISP, your Comcast,
NBC and Universal content might be fast but
other content might be slow. Comcast owns Hulu, and Netflix is a competitor
of Hulu, so who knows, maybe they’d slow down
your service to Netflix – the horror! In some countries without net neutrality, ISPs
have already created walled gardens like this. You pay a base fee for internet service and then pay
additional fees for a “Social media” package to access
your apps or a “news package” to get your news. It’s not pretty. You can see why it’s so important to understand
how media companies are all connected. When they come together to form monopolies,
they can have a huge impact on how a society
communicates. We know that media companies like to band
together through mergers and acquisitions. Sometimes this forms healthy competition and
sometimes, like we said, it creates a monopoly. But telecommunications and media have been
regulated and studied for some time. You know what also like to band together through
mergers and acquisitions, sometimes for competition
and sometimes to form monopolies? Tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. These monster corporations have their hands
on a ton of different projects. Alphabet is Google’s parent company. Google isn’t just a search engine; it’s
also an advertising platform. Alphabet owns YouTube and over 200 other companies. Plus they make products like Android phones
and Gmail and self-driving cars. And through search and Google News they’ve
become a major distributor of media. Amazon, in addition to being a dominant e-commerce
platform, provides the internet infrastructure for tons
of top companies. It also creates its own TV and movie programming
through Prime and owns The Washington Post. Similarly, Facebook owns over 50 companies
like Instagram and Whatsapp. It recently partnered with news outlets to help
with media distribution through its Journalism
Project and its Instant Articles product. They’re even dipping their toes in creating
original video programming. Plus, 45% of US adults get their news from
Facebook. Forty. Five. Percent. And yet they don’t call themselves a media company. What’s the big deal? Well: currently, Tech companies aren’t regulated
the same way that media companies are. Remember the FCC? They regulate media companies not only to break
up monopolies – they also set rules for what kind of
content is allowed on TV, radio, and phones. Different rules for different technologies. This is why some songs have “radio edits” and
why you have to bleep out the live TV when the
Thanksgiving Parade hosts get too tipsy. But the FCC doesn’t currently have the same
authority over companies like Facebook or
Google – which means there is tons and tons
of debate over whether they should. Media ownership can be problematic enough. When one company dominates the means of
production and creation on one product, consumers
often get a lesser product. Without competition, innovation stagnates. And when companies have too much control,
they can wreak havoc on our communication
and culture. When tech companies that are also media
companies don’t act like it, they shirk the accountability
that other media organizations have. The accountability that we, as consumers rely
on. Anti-trust regulations have their drawbacks. People who prefer less government intervention
don’t like them. The Monopoly man certainly doesn’t like
them. But they’re often in the public’s best interest
to prevent exploitation and encourage creativity. To be a media literate citizen, it’s crucial to
keep an eye on how these businesses combine,
split up, and interact. Their relationships with each other affect
our relationships with media. Today we covered how huge corporations and
their regulations impact our media environment
– the macro stuff. Next time on Crash Course: Media Literacy,
we’re going micro. We’ll take a look at how government policies impact
how you, the consumer, absorb and create media. Until then, I’m Jay Smooth.
See you next time! Crash Course Media Literacy is filmed in the
Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT. It’s made with the help of all of these nice
people, and our animation team is Thought Cafe. Crash Course is a Complexly production. If you wanna keep imagining the world complexly
with us check out some of our other channels, like The Financial Diet, SciShow Space, and
Mental Floss. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for
everyone, forever, you can support the series
at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows
you to support the content you love. Thank you to all of our patrons for making
Crash Course possible with their continued
support.

100 thoughts on “Media Ownership: Crash Course Media Literacy #8

  1. Your explanation of net neutrality is terrible. It's completely consistent with net neutrality to sell higher-speed access for higher prices and lower-speed access at lower prices. What makes a network non-neutral is when the network operator gets to decide whose content will be prioritized (e.g. giving Hulu faster delivery to you than they give Netflix), instead of delivering whatever content the customer asks for at the same priority.

  2. That is the worst explanation of net neutrality I've ever seen.

    Net neutrality has nothing to do with consumer internet speeds. It has to do with content discretion. Net neutrality means that you get the speeds you pay for, regardless of what you're using it for.

    Without net neutrality, Comcast can speed up Hulu for its internet customers, which Comcast owns, while slowing down Netflix, which they compete with.

    With the roads analogy, it's more like UPS made a deal with Amazon to make every package from Barnes and Noble sit in a truck for an extra week before delivery.

  3. This is not an accurate description of net neutrality.

    Internet companies can already charge you a higher price for faster Internet. That by itself isn't terribly concerning: you pay more for better service, just like with lots of other stuff. What they can't do (or, in the US, couldn't do until recently) is charge you a higher price for specific content, or conversely slow down specific content if you don't pay them. That's why it's net neutrality: the idea is that the infrastructure of the internet should be content neutral.

    Among other things, this prevents Comcast from setting up their own video service (they already have Hulu, like the video points out) and forcing people to use it instead of Youtube or Netflix if they want to watch videos in a reasonable amount of time. This also prevents Comcast from censoring the Internet by blocking criticism of themselves, or by blocking services like BitTorrent which Comcast as a media company disapproves of.

  4. I was hoping you would go into more depth about public interest and choice theories and talk about state and government funded media since there were new guidelines set out for Youtube recently. I feel internet neutrality kind of deserves its own episode to be covered in greater detail because the arguments are more about possible censorship concerns over monopoly price.

  5. fcc has had former comcast and verizon bastards killing its original intent and anti-trust laws have been deregulated to the point they're a joke monopolies are back and worse than before where is our new FDR? Also how much longer till mobs come after ajit pai

  6. Just because President Trump says Amazon owns the Washington Post, doesn't make it true. It's a separate company, separate board, separate revenue, but the same individual is owner of both.

  7. I was born a block from Disneyland, In Martin Luther Hospital, in the winter of 1968. With that information, you might think I am all about the Magic Kingdom and its Fiefdom. Well, my nephew told me I look like look Like that old Guy Mark Hamil, I've played the joker and found him to be a part of me, but only to have the Novelty Big Ears Hat, I'm a Burgler In The Over Consumed Happy Horse Golden Arches, Carrying the Ring Like a Good Nephew To The Forges It Was Cast In. Currently in Mordor With My Buddy Sam, Watching The Nazgullivers make their travels back and forth Across Middle Earth Spreading A Red Brand of Doom.

  8. so nbc has harry potter rights when ABCFamily/Freeform aired them constantly for ten years and then CBS owns CW/the WB (that’s how supergirl went to cw with all the other dc shows where it was probably developed for anyway) honestly any of those would be better to use the property for the Marauders-era teen tv show i am desperate for…. sigh

    i didn’t realize nbc was universal either i think i thought it was WB which is dumb bc i know their characters are at six flags or were at some point. did nbc once own nickelodeon or did they have a similar deal with viacom? because nick studios used to be universals main draw and it’s not now. (also in reading the wiki on that I found out that nickelodeon the cable channel does not have rights to most of the nickelodeon feature films like Harriet the spy, how weird is that?)

    now speaking of universal and cooperate ownership google the deal between disney and universal re: Marvel properties at theme parks. it’s truly bizarre.

    . the book DisneyWar covers the disney acquisition of ABC and then-foxfamily and is really interesting

  9. As a patron of Crash Course it annoys me that – for this course in particular – it is soooo USA cetric. Your consumers are global. And a global perspective is needed! The world is not the USA – even if Trump wishes it so.

  10. Love this series! Just one quick note: Amazon doesn’t own the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos does. He is also the CEO of Amazon, but he owns the Post personally. This definitely has potential effects on how both Amazon and the Post operate, but it’s not quite the same as Amazon directly owning the newspaper.

  11. Crash Course this may be the most important content to the modern age that you have released up to this point.

  12. Great episode, it really gave me a lot more understanding about the corporations fighting against net neutrality. However, I really wish this episode was a little bit less USA-concentrated, a few examples from other countries would be nice. Also, I wish you mentioned what countries don't have net neutrality, it kinda puts it into perspective. But I totally understand the topic is already hard to fit in 12 minutes.

  13. I personally believe that the media should always be used in the benefit of the people around the world, which everyone in the world will agree. As a result, the media should not lie or be used to deceive the people to which its purpose belongs to. Also the media should be used make peoples' lives easier by providing them with good information. If the media was to be used to spread lie in the benefit of someone or something else other than the humans, who has human rights, then the media is being used wrongly and thus the abusers must be punished and media be returned to the hands of the good people

  14. Times are a changing – back in the day I worked at cable company as face to face customer service. People would come in and pay their bills and communicate loudly about the lack of quality programming with their 100 channel packages. I would listen patiently and the argument closer for me was, “I understand your frustration. We here at the cable company only deliver the content. We don’t produce the content.” After watching this that argument no longer applies. Hehehehe

  15. Why don’t most Net Neutrality supporters care about other tech monopolies? Why should we let few multinational corporations decide what we’re allowed to say or monetize on social media? Why not treat social media monopolies as public utilities? Your power company can’t turn off the lights because they don’t agree with your politics. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. should be no different.

  16. You are confusing what is a human right and what is a commodity… Among our rights is the freedom to pursue commodities through the free market. The internet, Mr. Smooth, is a commodity.

    My position is that Internet Service Providers should be allowed to throttle their customers’ internet speeds based on how much they charge them, PROVIDED that there is competition in that market…which there is.

    On your desk there you have mug. Let’s pretend that you have some good old H2O in there. Do you have a right to that water? Well you certainly have a right to go get it from nature, to capture it from the falling sky to drink it or to dip your mug into the ocean…but what about the water from the tap… THAT water and it’s quality and accessibility came at an expense to another who sought to provide it to a consumer….so if you take the tap water on the basis that it’s your human right then you’re stealing it.

    We have, thank God, human rights established in this country and they include the freedom to speak and worship how we wish, and then there are commodities like food, housing, clothing, …the internet… all of which took decades of investment and development to bring them to the current standards you and I enjoy every day.

    The government can’t prevent us from perusing these commodities but the commodities can’t be labeled as rights because once they are then everyone can claim hold to them, i.e. the air you’re breathing right now. (The distinction must be clearly drawn between the right to something, and the right to pursue something.) Imagine if people lined up outside a department store demanding the goods on the inside for free based on the belief that it was the people’s right to take them…after all if we have a right to clothing, then you have claim to it just as you claim the air you breathe.

    Remember that the only reason goods like clothing and literature and the internet exist is because someone created it for profit in the free market, and when competition abounds everyone benefits.

    So, provided that completion is protecting the consumer, then sure, the ISP’s have a right to increase or decrees internet speed based on how much they charge their customers.
    IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, START YOUR OWN ISP AND GIVE AWAY HIGH SPEED INTERNET FOR FREE, ALL WHILE PAYING YOUR EXPENSES, NOT TAKING GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES, AND NOT MAKING A PROFIT…BECAUSE PROFITS ARE EVIL.

  17. The issue with regulating facebook and other similar platforms is… How? Yes you can regulate media laws so that the FCC has more power, but that is nowhere near the most contentious issue at the moment. The most contentious issue is that these companies spy on people, and its not even a sidegig, its how they earn their money. They sell ads so they want to maximize their users consumption of ads. Regulating how much these companies can spy on us will because of this be a direct cut to the companies profits. They will never accept not spying on people since that would virtually mean a loss of all their income. The issue is that we cant leave facebook since it has such a strong hold on the market and it provides a service a lot of people use. There could theoretically be a facebook competitor but if that ended up happening it would likely also be collecting info to sell ads.

    Ownership matters. Social media is a case of one where it should not be owned by the private sector or the public sector. Frankly, it should be owned by no one. We have the technology to make such platforms but how the heck they would be able to compete with companies that work within the system i have no idea.

  18. I work for AT&T. It's a god damn nightmare. Give it 5 years, you'll probably work for them too via mergers and acquisitions.

  19. This video is disturbingly inaccurate on so many points. I used to think Crash Course wasn't politicized but clearly I was wrong.

  20. I feel you over emphasize the harm of monopolies. Monopolies are not necessarily all bad; they can be the most efficient way to distribute a product given market conditions and the nature of the demand for the product, healthcare for example.

  21. Wow. That was such a lopsided presentation. Take the issue of net neutrality. Sure, the concerns you listed are important, but then you leave out what happens when the internet providers are treated as utilities and no longer have any incentive to invest in infrastructure innovation and improvement. Do you really believe that the internet has matured to that point yet? And you glossed over the fact that the FCC only regulates media that uses the public airways. Newspapers and magazines aren’t regulated. The point isn’t that you are wrong, but that it was more editorializing than educational. Pretty shoddy writing on this one. Good presentation though.

  22. Love this course – you're so charismatic, funny at times "… ruin it with completely the wrong casting oh my god why" and then time all your seriousness perfectly for engaging, informative, easily understandable and poignant performance. Really appreciate this delivery considering your subject, it really reflects the importance, complexity and yet kind of fun of media literacy – not to mention the information itself, and how great it is that Crash Course has introduced this! Wonderful work 🙂

  23. beautiful,beautiful,so you through this video confirm people like options but they dont care weather one or multiple persons gives that option.Only healthy competition has to be hold strong as the personal moral giving constant upgrades to the society at large.I like your team.

  24. There is legit info who owns what legalized monopoly whatever businesses, but when people go all conspiracy nonsense that is another thing. Such as anti scientific anti GMO and anti vaccine propaganda. Claiming Illuminati and reptile overlords is a whole other thing.

  25. More important than knowing who owns "the media" is to know the people that run them, and who are they friends with…

  26. If you're going to focus on the US, you should really do an episode on ownership consolidation in the radio stations everybody listens to. Basically one owner there, and that's kinda problematic. Certainly enough to fill a 10 minute YouTube ep

  27. "When one company dominates the means of production" Hahahahah them smooth Socialism undertones. Do a video on subconscious/subliminal targeting (even if it doesn't work).

  28. I got my TV from GALLAXY and most of the phones of my family are Apple iPhones others are Samsung and ALL OF my computers are windows

  29. when he did the joke about casting he was thinking about Johnny Depp as Grindelwald and you c a n n o t convince me otherwise

  30. Good Info For People's over The World Thanks for Upload great Content To make better world because we are in live Lie Society and Sleep walking
    Appreciate your team

  31. This entire course doesn't mention Noam Chomsky, which is very disappointing considering the fact he wrote a brilliant book on the inner workings of the mass media.

  32. If you think US tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon are huge, wait till you see Chinese tech giants; Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu etc. These Chinese companies don't only own Chinese tech services, they even own US companies. Tencent owns a bunch of popular US video games like, League of Legends, Fortnite and it's company Epic Games who owns unreal engine. They even own Supercell, the creator of the massively profitable microtransaction laden clash of clans mobile game. And that's just video games as media. US companies will never be allowed to own Chinese companies or markets

  33. I remember when Southwestern Bell was the only game in town. If your phone broke it could take a week or more to get somebody out there to fix it. They didn't care. They didn't need to. If we lose net neutrality, just remember who you voted for.

  34. Monopolies exist in the US and I don't see anybody regulating it. I lived in NYC for a while and the main internet provider was Timer Warner, recently Optimum online was creating a bit of competition. I now live in Pennsylvania and Comcast is the only internet provider.

  35. I felt like some of this was biased toward the free market, neglecting to really mention the benifits and focusing more on the draw backs. Thats why i gave this video a thumbs down and i hope that doesnt become a reoccuring pattern as general i feel the show to be rather fair!

  36. There are ONLY 5 MASS MEDIA GIANTS Both CBS & Viacom are Controlled by the Sumner Redstone (Rothstein) Family through their Private Media Holding Company Know as "National Amusements" Dont believe me, google it yourself.

  37. Media companies are amongst the richest companies in the world. Would be useful to let them use their money to spread my Outlook

  38. Zionist jews own the media.. and Washington, and the music industry.. and the movie industry..anybody see a theme of tyranny here?

  39. Capitalism and weak anti trust laws allows predatory conglomerates like AT&T to buy out all these other competing forces.

  40. What's happened since:
    Disney purchased 21st Century Fox and spun off the Fox Network, Fox News, and Fox Sports into "New Fox". There's talks of it reuniting with News Corp.
    AT&T purchased Time Warner and Otter Media. The litigation surrounding the acquisition suggests that the US government will no longer be going after vertical monopolies.
    CBS is in talks to purchase Viacom.

  41. I got a ad for us airforce talking about every hero has a origins story whatnot I first thought it was ad for superhero movies considering mentioned about every hero has a origins story it only until it said said something about us airforce do I realize it about talking about real life heroes?

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