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COMM323: Comparative Media Systems

Unit 2: Global Media Conglomerates   This unit introduces to you another major player within the international media environment: global media companies.  You will take a closer look at three of the six major global media companies: The News Corporation, Bertelsmann AG, and Disney.  We will explore their global business scope and their global-oriented corporate image building.  In other words, we try to understand the purpose behind such global-oriented corporate strategy: the pursuit of universal appeal of their media product, so they can achieve maximum global market share possible.  In this unit, you will also develop basic understanding of the global business web that major global media companies have developed over years.  The purpose of studying this global business web, therefore, is to understand the “commercial logic” based on which the media companies run their media business and what kind of impact it may bring to the culture we collectively share and live within.  Finally, we will explore some of the focal concerns relevant to multinational media companies in regards to cultural diversity and democracy.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 9 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 2.1.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.1.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.1.3:1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2 : 2 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.4: 3 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Describe the influence that global media conglomerates have in media development. - Survey and explain the influence that global media conglomerates’ have on media consumption. - Identify and explain major academic discussions on media and globalization.

2.1 Global Media Conglomerates   2.1.1 News Corporation   - Reading: The New York Times: “The News Corporation” Link: The New York Times“The News Corporation” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read through the
entire article.  Please remember to click on the “read more” link to
open the hidden portion of the text.  You should make sure your
reading covers the following sub-headings: Overview, Background:
Building a Vast Media Empire, Murdock’s Influence in Britain, and
Murdock in America.  As you move on with your reading, it is helpful
to keep the following questions in mind: when did the News
Corporation becomes an international media company?  How does the
News Corporation respond to a scandal like the e-mail hacking in
2011 in the UK?  To what extent do you think a global media company
like the News Corporation is subject to national laws and
regulations?  It is also helpful to reflect upon the learning
experience we have generated so far after unit one.  The Four
Theories of the Press deals with government-press relationship in
four types of governance.  Among the four theories; which one do you
think best approximate the case of the 2011 e-mail hacking
scandal?  

 Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

2.1.2 Bertelsmann   - Reading: Bertelsmann AG: “Bertelsmann at a Glance” and “Creativity met Entrepreneurship” Link: Bertelsmann AG: “Bertelsmann at a Glance” (HTML) and “Creativity met Entrepreneurship” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Read the article, “Bertelsmann at a Glance”.  To
complete the learning of this subunit, you need to read both this
article and watch the corporate video, Creativity met
Entrepreneurship, produced by Bertelsmann.  

 When you read the article, “Bertelsmann at a Glance,” make sure to
read the organizational structure and strategy.  Continue to think
about how the role of a global media enterprise, as the company
identifies itself as such, serve in the international community?  In
other words, to what extent can we put a “national” label on a media
company like Bertelsmann AG?  Could we define it as German, since it
was originated from Germany?  Or should we define it as American,
since some of its major businesses, like Random House, is considered
“American”?  Do those questions promote you think further of the
Four Theories of the Press?  What are the factors we also need to
consider when evaluating the press-government relationship, if the
“press” now refers to a global media enterprise like Bertelsmann AG,
while the “government” now refers to multiple hosting-country
governments that the enterprise interacts with on daily basis?  

 Now move on to watch the four-minute video, “Creativity met
Entrepreneurship.”  Click on the “play” button and watch the video. 
Prepare yourself for a fast-paced narration of the company’s
business scope, with focus on the global, multi-lingual, and
multi-cultural aspect.  Bear in mind that this video was created to
promote the company image as dynamic, modern, and global-oriented. 
What are the benefits of this kind of corporate image?  Try to use
the Four Theory of Press as your starting point to consider what can
be avoided and what can be promoted for a company dealing with
different types of political governance at the same time.  

 Reading this artcle and watching the video should take
approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

2.1.3 Disney   - Reading: The Walt Disney Corporation: “Disney Company Overview” Link: The Walt Disney Corporation: “Disney Company Overview” (HTML)

 Instructions: Click on the link above and read the “Company
Overview”.  Ask yourself: who seem to be the targeted market for the
company?  Imagine you were a child: what are the products the
company offers might be attractive to you?  Imagine you were a
parent: what are the products you might consider purchasing for your
children?  What are the universal characteristics of Disney products
that transcends national borders?  In other words, what helps Mickey
Mouse gain popularity in countries other than the US?  Would you say
the Mickey Mouse’s magical power in some way resembles Bertelsmann
AG’s effort creating a “global culture?”  So far we’ve looked at
three major global media conglomerates.  What seems to be the shared
purpose behind the creation of such “global perspective?” Would you
say, in the case of Disney, that part of the intention is to benefit
from the universal appeal of family values, in order for the company
to achieve maximum market share possible?  

 Reading this webpage should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

2.2 Merger Strategies   2.2.1 International Merger   - Reading: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS): Frontline’s “Media Giants” Link: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS): Frontline’s “Media Giants” (HTML)

 Instructions: Make sure you click through links behind all the
media corporations’ names to learn their media businesses around the
world.  Some questions to consider as you read this resource: Which
merger is the largest media merger in history?  Which merger is the
second largest after that?  How much market value were involved in
both cases?  Which company has the number one music business in the
world, with roughly 22% of the global market share?  It takes years
to form this global web of operation.  After you go through all the
businesses for each of the six major global media companies, could
you find products that you are familiar with and track it back to
its mother company?  

 Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

2.2.2 Marketing on the Universality   - Web Media: Public Broadcasting Service: Frontline’s “Merchants of Cool” Link: Public Broadcasting Service: Frontline’s “Merchants of Cool” (Flash)

 Instructions: Click on the link above and watch the PBS Frontline
program “Merchants of Cool.”  Try reflecting back to earlier
discussion within this chapter of media corporation’s pursuit of
universal appeal to achieve the maximum market share possible.  Ask
yourself: does the “coolness” mentioned in this documentary
represent universal appeal to teenagers?  Pay particular attention
to the third segment, “the MTV Machine.”  What was the initial
concept of MTV?  Why does it make good “business” sense?  How does
the MTV programming thrive upon music record companies, audiences,
and singers alike?  Now that we know that MTV as a brand belongs to
Viacom, one of the six major global media companies, we can get a
better sense of how global media companies function.  Some scholars
claim that in the age of globalization, multinational companies have
replaced nation-state as the major players of global arena.  Would
you agree with this ?  Why or why not?  

 Watching this video should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

2.3 Major Concern: Colonizing our Culture?   - Reading: Public Broadcasting Service: “Interview with Robert McChesney” Link: Public Broadcasting Service: “Interview with Robert McChesney” (HTML)

 Instructions: Click on the link above and read the interview
transcript with Robert McChesney, author of *Rich Media, Poor
Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times*.  We will use
this interview to summarize our discussion on global media
companies.  McChesney pointed out that the “commercial logic”
according to what media companies operate their business.  What are
McChesney’s concerns?  He said that “[in] popular music, there’s a
huge difference if you ultimately think the reason you’re listening
to this music is because these musicians basically were hired
because of some marketing thing.”  Reflect upon your own experience
consuming music product.  Do you agree or disagree with McChesney on
this?  In addition, McChesney also discussed the impact from major
media companies, that with the powerful production and distributing
channel, “they look at the teen market as part of this massive
empire that they’re colonizing.”  Do you agree with McChesney that
global media companies are “colonizing” the teen market?  Why or why
not?  

 Reading this transcript should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

2.4 Unit 2 Discussion   - Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “COMM323 Course Discussion Board” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “COMM323 Course Discussion Board”

 Instructions: After reviewing the unit materials, please post and
respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. 
Feel free to start your own thread or respond to other students’
postings.  

-   When did the News Corporation becomes an international media
    company?  How does the News Corporation respond to a scandal
    like the e-mail hacking in 2011 in the UK?
-   What are the universal characteristics of Disney products that
    transcends national borders?  In other words, what helps Mickey
    Mouse gain popularity in countries other than the US?
-   In the PBS documentary, McChesney said during the interview that
    “[in] popular music, there’s a huge difference if you ultimately
    think the reason you’re listening to this music is because these
    musicians basically were hired because of some marketing
    thing.”  McChesney pointed out that the “commercial logic”
    according to what media companies operate their business.  What
    are McChesney’s concerns?

Posting and responding on the discussion board should take
approximately 3 hours.