Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Big Six

So, the writer's strike.

The studios have moved past stage one - "We refuse to negotiate!" to stage two - "Here's a horrible offer which we're telling you is great!" Next in line should be stage three - the Confusing Offer, one so ornate and baroque that only the corporate lawyers can figure it out. Meanwhile, the buzz in Hollywood is surprisingly not when the various writers will cave and cross the picket lines, but which of the Big Six will break ranks and seek a separate deal.

I mentioned the Big Six last time out, and did a little research on who these guys were and, more importantly, what they owned. They are the big-headed wizards behind a LOT of media product that we consume every day. Is it any wonder that the writers have had to seek out alternative media to get their message out? The bigger question is, with all this concentrated power, why have the major media players been so BAD at getting their message across (perhaps, if I may suggest, it is a really sucky message).

Here are the Bigs:

Image: Walt's Still In Charge
Reality: We own your childhood. Do what we say and no one gets hurt.
Owns: ABC, ABC Family, Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Distribution, Disney Channel, ESPN, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Pixar, Jetix, Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax, Dimension Films, Jumbo Pictures, Lifetime (50%), A&E (37.5% - includes A&E. The History Channel, The Biography Channel), Citadel Broadcasting (which owns ABC Radio, but is in turn 57% owned by Disney stockholders), Disney-ABC Domestic Television, Hyperion Publishing, Infoseek,, Jim Henson’s Muppets, Mammoth Records, Hollywood Records, Avalanche Software, Propaganda Games, Fall Line Studios, Junction Point Studios (Hi, Warren!), CrossGen comics, 10 TV Stations (reaching 24% of US households).

Image: The Pros from Atlanta
Reality: Used to control cable news, before the dark time, before the Murdoch.
Owns: HBO, Cinemax, HBO Films, Turner Broadcasting System, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Court TV, TBS Superstation, TNT, TCM, WTBS, CNN, E! (49%), Airport Network, Headline News, Toonami Jetstream, New Line Cinema, New Line Distribution, Warner Bros., Castle Rock Entertainment, The WB (deceased) CW Television Network, (with CBS), Hanna Barbara, Looney Tunes, Kids WB!, Time Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, Cooking Light, Sports Illustrated, Eidos, Monolith, AOL, Moviephone, CompuServe, Netscape, MapQuest Atlanta Records, Rhino Records, (but oddly enough, NOT Time Warner Book Group, which was purchased by Hachette Livre, the largest book company in France), DC Comics, Time Warner Cable, Adelphia (13 million subscribers to its cable systems), the Atlanta Braves.

Image: Scrappy in-your-face success story
Reality: Catering to your baser instincts for two decades now.
Owns: 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Regency Television (50%), Fox Broadcasting, MySpace Records, MyNetworkTV, ITV (British, 17.5%), Fox Business Network, Fox Classics, Fox Sports Net, Fox News Channel, FX Networks, National Geographic Channel (67%), MySpace, Photobucket,, HarperCollins (30+ Book imprints), The Sun, The Times, News of the World, New York Post, The Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, TV Guide (running THAT one into the ground), Buncha Australian Newspapers, Colorado Rockies (15%), 35 TV Stations (reaching 50% of US households).

Image: Not nearly as important as you'd think.
Reality: Yeah, just as important as you'd think.
Owns: MTV, VH1,CMT, Comedy Central, BET, Spike, Paramount, Dreamworks, Spelling Television, Go Fish Pictures, Republic Pictures, MTV Films, Nickelodeon, Nick at Night, Neopets, Harmonix, GameTrailers, TVLand, Blockbuster video. But get ready for the shell game – majority Viacom ownership belongs to an unknown firm called National Amusements, which also owns CBS (including CW (with Time/Warner),) 28 television stations, CBS Records, CBS Radio, Showtime, Simon & Schuster) and Midway Games. National Amusements is totally owned by Sumner Redstone and his daughter.

Image: Technologists - we bring good things to life.
Reality: Just like Dr. Frankenstein did.
Owns: NBC, 10 TV Stations, Universal Studios, NBC Sports, A&E (with Disney, others), Bravo, CNBC (With Dow Jones), MSNBC (with Microsoft), Sci Fi Channel, Sundance (minority), USA Network, Telemundo, TiVo (minority), qubo, ION Media Network, Universal theme parks.

Image: Nothing to see here. Just doin' our jobs.
Reality: Sony. That sounds like an American name, right?
Owns: Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Screen Gems, Destination Films, Triumph Films, Sony Pictures Television, Mandalay Entertainment (partial), MGM, United Artists, Samuel Goldwyn Company, Orion Pictures, MGM Television, Columbia Records, Epic Records, Sony Computer Entertainment (PlayStation), Sony Online Entertainment (Everquest), Semiconductors, Half of Japan.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that GE and Sony would break ranks first, if only because they have major investments in other areas, so any subsidiary sitting idle would represent a loss of overall profitability. Then again, maybe Rupert Murdoch may REALLY Be missing new episodes of "The Family Guy".

More later,