Who owns the news? The 24 companies that control the world’s biggest news outlets
Our latest study shows the current state of media consolidation in the United States, the U.K., Australia, and the globe.
We started off by identifying the top 50 most visited news websites in the world as of September 2019, using data from web traffic analysis company Alexa, and market intelligence provider SimilarWeb. We then determined the parent companies behind each of these 50 outlets and identified all of the properties in their online media portfolios to create an accurate picture of the concentration of media around the world.
Several names are synonymous with media domination around the world: News Corp in the United States, the U.K., and Australia, Globo in Brazil, Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan. While many of the oldest media conglomerates are as powerful as ever and still growing, the emergence of digital news has substantially altered the media landscape and allowed new companies to emerge as major players in the news industry. Tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, as well as telecommunications conglomerates such as Verizon and AT&T, now rank among the top owners of the world’s media.
In recent years, asset management firms and private investors have increasingly bought majority stakes in legacy newspapers and have come to dominate the list of the top media owners worldwide. In April 2019, for example, private equity firm Great Hill Partners acquired
the Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion, and combined their digital news assets, which include Gizmodo, Jezebel, and The A.V. Club, into a new company named G/O Media Inc. In August 2019, American investment firm KKR
purchased the largest stake in Axel Springer SE, a German media group whose assets include Business Insider and Rolling Stone.
While many believed the internet would bring openness and diversity to the world’s media, online news media has become increasingly consolidated over the past several decades.
According to a recent analysis from the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information
research center, the market concentration of internet media has more than doubled since 2000. In an analysis of 30 countries, researchers found that, on average, the top four media companies in each country hold 40% of that country’s media content market. Such a high degree of media concentration — which is only projected to increase in the near future — has far-reaching implications for social, cultural, economic, and political life. As media moguls continue to build their empires, and emerging conglomerates begin to expand into the news media industry, it is important to remain aware of who exactly owns the news.
As the concentration of online news has increased, so has public distrust in mass media. A recent Gallup poll
shows that Americans remain largely mistrustful of the mass media, with just 41% currently having “a great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in newspapers, television and radio to report the news “fully, accurately and fairly.”
The news media has a powerful influence over consumer tastes, political opinions, and culture at large, so it is increasingly important to know who exactly controls the news content we consume every day.
December 2, 2019