In the 1976 film Network, directer Sidney Lumet uses a man named Howard Biele, working a “fourth” network to satirizes the television media business and how the future of television will be reality TV and constant company buy-outs. In 1986, the Fox network was created (the “fourth” network) and soon after came COPS, the “first” reality television show. A from there, the rest was history…
Film and TV have always been partners in crime. NBC worked with MGM to show The Wizard of Oz, NBCUniversal is a huge media conglomerate of NBC and Universal Studios. They’re connected. Not only are film and tv connected, but so are the major internet/tv/phone providers too. Comcast owns NBC. In 1983, the NYTimes reported about a proposed merger between Showtime and the Movie Channel, and which would also merge Paramount Pictures; Warner Brothers, a division of Warner Communications Inc., and MCA Inc. The merger was blocked but movie studios have not given up.
When film started, there were only three major studios in play. The industry was not competitive and no one company had more money or recognition than the other. Today, everything is in play. Today, we know how powerful Disney is. They own ABC, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel. But in 1995, it was front page news about Disney’s 19 Billion dollar accusation of ABC “to build a giant for entertainment”. Mergers are terrifying, now only do they limit competitiveness, but also the amount of creative content that is created. If one company owns 5 smaller companies, then that one has creative control over all the content that comes out under those 5 smaller companies. The market for content is smaller, and in order for the industry to survive it needs that creative competition to get better. In “1983, 50 companies owned 90 percent of the media consumed by Americans. In 2012, just six companies – control that 90 percent”.
Mergers only come in times of uncertainty in the movie business. It is unstable. But, unlike Forbes, I do not think the solution to one networks/company’s failure, is to buy it out. Monopolies on media will not be good for the future of the industry. What makes film strong is the diversity of content creation. Different studios doing different things and changing the landscape. Mergers limit the creativity of what can be created, because their is no competition daring the others to do better. If the landscape is owned by one, nothing will change, and film will stagnate, because what needs to change in film in the 2017 is not who owns who, its who creates what, its who makes the most interesting and needed content to revitalize going to the movies.