Mass Media 

We all consume mass media, during leisure time and not. Mass media is a range of technologies communicated to a large audience, they include (in order of invention) Print, Recordings, Cinema, Radio, Television, Internet and finally mobile phones. We consume these types of entertainment all the time, we also spend a lot of money on them as consumers and through the workings of capitalism and free markets we arrive to where the media industry is today, controlled and owned by a select few of media conglomerates.

Structure and Ownership 

The concentration of media ownership (sometimes called media consolidation or media convergence) is when fewer and fewer corporations/company’s control a increasing share of the mass media market. Here is the ‘Big Six

‘ in terms of revenue

1. The Walt Disney Company

2. Time Warner

3. News Corporation

4. Viacom/CBS Corporation

5. Sony Corporation of America 

6. NBC/Universal

Comcast/NBCUniversal News Corporation The Walt Disney Company Viacom/CBS Corporation Time Warner Sony Corporation of America
Broadcast television network NBC Fox ABC CBS The CW
Cable channels USA Network, E! FX, National Geographic ABC Family, A+E Networks , Disney Channel MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Showtime Networks TNT, TNS, HBO
Movie production studio Universal Studios 20th Century Fox Walt Disney Pictures Paramount Pictures, CBS Films Warner Bros. Columbia Pictures
Theme parks resorts Universal Parks and Resorts Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Nickoldeon Suites Resort Orlando Parque Warner Madrid
Publishing Wall Street Journal, The Times, Harper Collins Marvel Comics, Disney Publishing Worldwide Simon & Schauter DC comics, Time, People, Sports Illustrated
News Channel MSNBC Fox News Channel ABC News Now CNN/HLN
Business channel CNBC Fox Business Network
National Sports network NBC Sports Network Fox Sports 1 ESPN CBS Sports Network NBA TV
Record label Disney Music Group CBS Records Sony Music Entertainment
Internet iVillage, Fandango News Corp. Digital Media Disney Interactive Media Group MTV New Media, CBS Interactive Sony Online Entertainment

Here is a table of the Big Six’s subsidiaries, it is clear that they collectively own many, if not most, of the what we consume. These six control a massive revenue of $275.9 Billion, or £181.3 Billion. This is more than the GDP of Finland and Iceland combined, to put it into perspective.

From techdirt.com – “For consumers, today is an age of absolute abundance in entertainment. More content is available in more ways than ever before …. There is just a tremendous amount of content, a tremendous variety of content, it’s more accessible to more people than ever before.”

Theres no denying that the conglomerates create a wealth of content to consume, good or bad is neither here or there, but, it cant be a bad thing to have such amounts of content available in so many ways, and fierce competition still exists. Maybe, it could be argued that the buying up and merging of corporations within the media industries is a good thing, simply because they generate more money which in turn goes back into the creation of (hopefully) better content, where as if the industry was stuck at hundreds of little companies, the content probably wouldn’t be as good. (I don’t think throwing money at a film for example will make it any better, but I certainly think it will help, and it shows in the real world)

They also comment on the creation of content – “For content creators, it is an age of amazing new opportunity. Traditionally, to take part in the entertainment industry, you had no choice but to go through a gatekeeper … Today, that is no longer true. More people are making more money from creating content than ever before”

It is true in industries such as film have what seems a gentleman’s club, where in they would only be a comparatively set few who could access the productions of major films and they would have been working in the industry for many years. But with the advent of new media and the internet we will see a change and a loosening of the system of exclusivity.

Here is a good infographic showcasing the ownership of US television stations.

media-ownership

 The video game industry, although not always considered apart of the media industry, in the last decade has rise to be just as big as the rest of the creative media industries, taking in around huge $66 Billion in 2011, surpassing the Music, Film and Book industry. Electronic Arts is the largest publisher of just games, but including hardware it would go Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony. Other large publishers include Capcom, Warner Bros Interactive, Ubisoft, Konami, Sega, Activision Blizzard, Bethseda Softworks, Square Enix, THQ and so on.

 Legal, Ethical and Regulations of the Film & Television Industries

Broadcasting Act 1990

This act was brought in by Thatcher and was a complete restructuring of British broadcasting, it relates to what is legal and what is not while broadcasting on TV or Radio. A television station would be in breach of the act if for example they where to show pornography.

Official secrets act 1989 

This legislation restricts anyone, including TV, Radio and films, from revealing information that can be deemed a three to national security.

Obscene Publications Act 

This act strengthens the laws concerning obscenity, a TV station or News channel usually cannot show obscene acts like nudity and extreme violence .

Films Act 1985

Relates to the laws of film financing and abolished the Cinematograph Film Council and ended much national film financing.

Video Recording Act

this legislation constitutes that all films and broadcasting released onto market must be classified by the BBFC, if it is not it cannot be released and is illegal to do so.

Race Relations Act 

this prevents racial discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic and national origins in the fields of employment etc. This applies to the broadcasting industry aswell.

Privacy Act

This ensure that you have the right to be left alone. This ensures that broadcasters cannot infringe upon peoples privacy, the only way is to have it warranted, in a similar fashion to the police force.

Intellectual Property and Copyright Law 

These laws protects all forms of entertainment for the creators. Copyright is an automatic right that you don’t have to apply for.

Libel Law 

Laws which state that any one person may not slander another person or group.

A famous legal case was brought to the high court involving  Jamie Theakston v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd. Jamie Theakston attempted to injunct the Sunday People from publishing a story about how he visited a brothel in Mayfair, London. Theakston argued that the publication of the story breached his right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. He said that the activities had takern place privately and therefore it should be treated as confidential and that the publication had no public interest. The Sunday People then argued back that the publication of the story was in the public interest given the concern of the BBC, to ensure that presenters of programmes aimed at younger people conduct thenselves appropriately in public. The court were skeptical of Theakston’s assertion that he only realised he was in a brothel when other prostitutes entered the room. Theakston failed at his attempt to injuct the Sunday People.”

BBFC

The BBFC or British Board of Film Classification is the sole body behind all classification of films in the UK, no film will be allowed to enter the market unless they have a rating from the BBFC. They also classify video games, advertisements and television. There job is to age rate each film accurately according to what they deem suitable for the age range.

OFCOM

OFCOM or Office of Communications, is the ‘government approved’ regulatory and competition authority of Broadcasting, Telecoms and postal. They hold a large amount of powers in these sectors and job is to promote competition and to protect the public from what might be considered harmful.

Codes of Practice 

The codes of practice are written or unwritten rules and guidelines to working within a industry, these apply to the Film and TV industries. A good example would be the codes of practice for filming in London, which can be found here: http://core.filmlondon.org.uk/library/documents/CodeOfPractice_.pdf

Media Representation

Media Producers always need to be thinking about how there content is representing people and locations and how they are portrayed. Im sure many of us have a negative view of countries like Iraq and Afganistan because of events like 9/11 and the London Bombings, with the western media having a slanted view on the occasions.

Media Career 

University is certainly a good option to start a career in the film industry, but not always the ideal way for some people. There are a number of ways to ‘break in’ to the film industry, you can go the film school route and use your student films to get work/clients, or you can try and work from the bottom as a runner, or if your lucky enough to know a person working in the industry then maybe they could help out, but generally the first two routes are the most common. What ever route you where to choose they all are still really difficult because of the nature of the industry, it seems at times very much a exclusive gentleman’s club, where by the big jobs are all taken by veterans of the industry, and to get to the point you need years and years of experience and work under your belt.