Who Owns What on Television?

All those hundreds of TV channels may lead you that there's a true diversity and variety in today's television ... but you'd be wrong. A handful of large companies control what you see, hear, and read every day.

Let's take a look at who owns what on television - here are the TV channels owned by 6 of the largest companies in media, as depicted by their logos:

General Electric

General Electric is a true behemoth: the conglomerate is the world's third largest company with market capitalization of nearly $370 billion and annual revenue of $173 billion (2007). The company produces practically everything - from aircraft engine to locomotives to medical devices.

GE's media holding includes television networks NBC and Telemundo, 27 television stations in the United States and many cable TV networks, including the History Channel, A&E, and Sci Fi Channel. It also owns the popular web-based TV website Hulu.

Update 7/8/08: A&E is co-owned by The Hearst Corporation and ABC, which in turn is owned by Disney.

Time Warner

Time Warner is the world's largest media and entertainment company - it owns major operations in film, TV, print, Internet, and telecommunications. Time Warner has an annual revenue of $50.5 billion (2008) - the equivalent of the entire GDP of Luxembourg.

Like cartoons? Time Warner's got you covered with Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. Classic movies? Check (Turner Classic Movies). And who can forget CNN and Headline News? Both are Time Warner properties. (Note: CW is co-owned by Time Warner and CBS).

The Walt Disney Company

You may associate it with amusement parks, but The Walt Disney Company has grown to be one of the world's largest media and entertainment corporation since its founding as an animation studio by brothers Walt and Roy Disney in 1923.

The Walt Disney Company owns the ABC television network, with more 200 affiliated stations reaching nearly 100% of all U.S. television market, as well as dozens of niche cable networks. True to its cartoon animation origin, Disney captures its viewers early - it counts millions of young children as its audience with kids channels like the Disney Channel.

News Corporation

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is a behemoth: it is the largest media company in the world by market capitalization ($38 billion). For most people, the conservative news channel Fox comes foremost to mind when asked what they think of Murdoch's media empire - but the company's holding is far larger: it includes Asia's Star TV Network, the National Geographic Channel and even the iconic TV Guide network.

Don't watch TV? Even if you prefer to browse the Internet, most likely you've visited News Corp's property, which include Hulu (owned in partnership with GE through its subsidiary NBC Universal) and the social networking giant MySpace.


CBS (which used to stand for the Columbia Broadcasting System) is not sometimes called the Tiffany Network for nothing: the company is known for its high programming quality. It is currently the most watched television network in the United States, and reached more than 103 million homes in the country.

Both CBS and Viacom (see below) are owned by multi-billionaire Sumner "content is king" Redstone, through his holding company National Amusements.


Viacom stands for "Video and Audio Communication" - and true to that name, the company owns a large number of cable and satellite television networks (the company was split from CBS Corporation in 2005, though both have the same majority owner).

In 2007, Viacom filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Google and YouTube for copyright infringement and recently a federal judge granted Viacom's request for data of all YouTube users. The blogosphere has since called for a boycott of all Viacom properties - so that means no MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon or - gasp - Comedy Central for you!

Same with radio: Clear Channel owns 80% of the US radio stations (and they also own the biggest concert venues, too so they can tell you what you'll go see.)
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I agree about Noggin. They run a lot of Nick Jr programming (Dora, Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba) and no Disney programming. The Disney preschooler programming runs on Disney Channel and, on occasion, Toon Disney. I don't think Disney owns Noggin or they'd use it to run their programming, not Viacom's.
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Yes - you're right about Noggin, albert and Eden. That was my mistake, it's fixed now. Also thanks to Tanya Van Court for emailing me.

As far as I know, Direct TV is owned by John Malone's Liberty Media (It used to be partly owned by News Corp until Redstone sold/swapped the shares).

Larry, Discovery Channel is owned by the John Malone's Discovery Communication. This company also owns Animal Planet, TLC, and the Science Channel.
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Hallmark Channel is owned by Crown Media Holding in the United States (they are controlled by the Hallmark Company which makes the cards). Internationally, however, it is owned by NBC Universal Global Networks, which in turn is owned by GE.
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What about the Food Network, HGTV and several others? Owned by Scripps...


Someone above asked about Discovery Channel and Science Channel. All those, and several others (including TLC, Animal Planet) appear to be under the auspices of an LLC by the name of "Discovery Communications" - couldn't determine if it was owned by any other entity.

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What's the big deal? These are *publishing* companies --just like the ones that publish books. Are we going to say that a handful of companies control what we read?
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Doing a comprehensive review of Big Media Ownership is a major undertaking and not without some risks and difficulties. That said, some errors I'm aware of:

A&E, the History Channels, Biography and Crime & Investigation are all owned by a 'joint venture' of NBC/U, ABC/Disney and Hearst (the newspaper/castle people).

Hearst also owns 50% of Lifetime, Real Women & LMN.

Sundance Channel WAS a 'joint venture' of CBS, NBC/U and Robert Redford's Sundance Institute, but was recently sold, lock, stock and Redford, to Cablevision.

Cablevision also owns AMC (the Mad Men channel), WE, the Independent Film Channel and lots of local cable companies on the East Coast.

Yes, Hallmark Channel outside the U.S. is owned by NBC/U, but I believe most programming decisions are made by the Crown Media/Hallmark people and NBC is mostly distributing. When you get outside the US, things get confusing with various big players distributing or repackaging other big players' properties and lots of partnerships. I suggest avoiding anything outside the U.S. for clarity's sake.

Glad you mentioned Liberty Media, DirecTV and the Discovery Channel(s). Not as well known but big enough and well positioned to be a player in this game. Also the people behind BBC America (which complicates the International situation further)

One other lesser cable player worth noting is Scripps Networks, which brings us HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network, Fine Living and Great American Country, and until a few days ago, was part a company that owns a bunch of newspapers and local TV stations and syndicates Dilbert and other comics. (I think it split like CBS and Viacom split, but I'm not sure)

And hey, Paramount Pictures should be included in the "owned by Viacom" mix (with Paramount TV now a part of CBS, making the CBS/Viacom 'split' more complicated - or suspicious).

Anyway, again, a good feature on a tough subject.
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True, wendell - for this post, I counted partial ownership and joint ventures as "ownership." Technically, these TV channels are owned by holding corporations who are in turn owned by another holding corporation and so forth ... but behind all the commotion stood only a few companies.
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But still, even if it looked wrong, wouldn't it be more right to have A&E and its related channels under both GE and Disney (since they own equal shares)?
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Yes, I am being annoyingly pedantic, which is what happens when you drift into certain subject matters for me.

I also get annoying on the subjects of Webcomics, old Animated Cartoons, Babylon 5 and regional fast food chains (Jack in the Box is NOT affiliated with Carl's Jr. and the next person to say so gets their arse kicked).

DISCLAIMER: I am an occasional paid contributor to the Entertainment section of MSNBC.com, but the website is managed by the Microsoft half of the joint venture so I am allowed to write snarky things about "Deal or No Deal".
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Wow. great info. It would be also nice to see the links of the internet and radio. And what about the CW, listed under TimeWarner and CBS? Who gets the blame for Smallville and the praise of Supernatural?
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> Are we going to say that a handful of companies control what we read?

Yes. The media concentration is the same, but the companies are different. Take a look at some library books. Publishing giants like Simon & Schuster, Penguin etc. are the book publishing equivalents of The News Corp. and Time Warner. It's the same deal, simply different players.
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You're right gonzilla - CW is co-owned by CBS and Time Warner.

Wendell is right about A&E - I've changed the text, but don't have time to edit the picture right now.
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I think it would be far more important to focus on where we get our 'news' but that would involve newspaper, radio, tv. In the end the companies we depend upon in order to know what is happening in the US and world worries me more than where I get my mythbusters from.

and most importantly, if you are going to tell us that only a few companies control what we see, you really need to provide more input on the smaller alternatives...

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Even if it is obvious by reading it, nowhere in the title or in the intro can you see that this article will be talking about american TV.

American TV is not TV in general, go abroad sometimes.

How typical.
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Six behemoths, nine behemoths, who cares! Programming sucks, has never recovered from the writer's strike. The writers went away and have been replaced by Mrs. Jones' seventh grade English class. And then we have PBS, which seems determined to bore then entire country to death. Channels seem more intent on filling time than producing entertainment.
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to all the conspiracy theorists I tell you:
this is nothing, it is a normal behavior in a capitalist market, when there is interest and money to make, people who can afford the venture will be lured to invest in it.
As I would do in anything in life, that interest me or can make me profit.
example: if I am a kindergarden owner and I'm making a profit and I'm interested in this business and have the capital to invest in new ones or new ways to care for toddlers/children.
I'm sure I'll be accused of trying to brain wash children and control the world and blah blah blah, you know the rest......this is aimed at the first comment.
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For the Walt Disney Company, you should also note that they own the top ABC affiliates around the country. WABC in NY, KABC in LA, WLS in Chicago, KGO in SF, WPVI in Philly, and KTRK ... plus 4 more in smaller markets.
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Why do a couple of people claim ownership by Jewish people? It would be interesting to see the percentage ownership by Jewish people/companies and compare that to the percentage of Jewish people.
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I thought that the A&E Networks (A&E Network, The History Channel, The Biography Channel, History International, The History Channel en Español, Military History Channel , Crime & Investigation Network) were actually jointly owned by ABC, Inc., The Hearst Corporation, and NBC Universal.
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meh, im not surpirised man, there are only so many hours or should i say half hours of the day anyhow, they probably need several channels to put out there newer and popular shows and also channels for experimental shows, so it may seem corrupt but probably its just the natural way of the industrial growth which is to expand yet keep ownership of all subsidiary comapnies. i wonder if i spelled that right oh well.
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Veronica. Your right this is normal for a capitalist environment alas we are NOT SUPPOSED to be living in a purely capitalist environment. We are a constitutional republic with strict LIMITATIONS that are supposed to be in place specifically to PREVENT this type of out of control capitalism from even occurring. Alas our politicians are bought and paid for and our population more and more apathetic and uneducated.

The result is the laws in place to PREVENT this from happening are being removed 1 by 1 which is allowing more and more pure capitalism to take hold. 50+ years ago this would have been impossible to do legally.
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Re: Clear Channel.

It does not own 80% of the US radio stations. It may seem so but to believe that for fact would be a gross error. There are more than 12,000 radio stations licensed in the US; Clear Channel owns around 1200 of them.
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dont act so surprised! what u see read and hear in media IS CONTROLLED and has been. do u really think there is an intention of improving the human condition, come on people wake up! the only intention there is to allow the elite of earth to remain elite and the rest of us, the mases remain blinded by our ignorance.
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This is exactly why you can't buy cable channels a-la-carte. These companies impose an all-or-nothing rule in their carriage contracts to jack up the "potential viewership" numbers to advertisers on their lesser channels. ESPN is the most expensive basic cable channel out there, but if you're not a sports enthusiast, just try saving a couple bucks by excluding it from your cable package.
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are they all owned by jews ? I was wondering because you always see how the people from the Middle East hate us but they do not report on how many addicts they have in places like Iran and afganastan.
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Thank you for providing this information!!!
It is very hard to find.
I'm also looking for a chart that outlines the groups above the corporations such as GE . . . like a Who Owns the World?

Is there an HTML version of this post that you could send me?
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Great post - but please the comments about Jewish ownership being an issue should be more precise to be effective. You mean maybe global media titans like Israeli-American Saban? Who claims his Israel-first Zionism loudly and brags about influencing Presidents here? Many media companies similarly endowed with such characters, sure, but not all are so voracious in their desire for a specific program influencing the U.S.

And it's crazy to imagine anyone wonders what effect media ownership has, or compares it to book companies? After seeing Fox TV at work during the Bush years, let alone depicting foreign news?
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for the people saying that this is an example of capitalism, you're wrong. for one thing, capitalism doesn't even exist in the world today. cable tv channels are some of the furthest things from it.

Also, if you're worried about being brainwashed by tv... don't watch it. i don't, and I don't miss it.
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Who owns what is important. Whoever controls the media determines what news is covered and how it is covered. They control minds,attitudes and opinions. Book publishers determine how history is recorded.The truth is hidden.School text books record history the way they want it recorded. For a sample of who owns what see the following link,

A book called "Under the sign of the scorpion" by Juri Lina describes how the Russian Revolution was ORCHESTRATED by the Bolsheviks.600 million people were murdered for the purpose of thievery and enslaving the Russian people. The wealth of the Russian nation was plundered and transferred to a few indivs.
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This is a fantastic article! I came here looking for information on the ownership of PBS (a PRIVATELY-owned not-for-profit organization like NPR, as I understand it--please correct me if wrong) after reading an article for class regarding media control of depictions of violence. It briefly mentions most of these companies, but your piece adds the deeper analysis and information I was left wanting.

Linda is absolutely right. It's important to know who controls media because it's those groups who determine, or at least approve, TV programming. Because of this, what we see and how it's depicted is essentially controlled by these commercially- and politically-affiliated groups. It's not their control of these TV stations, but that control in conjunction with their other interests (insurance for most, oil and consumer goods for many, and liquor for AOL/Time Warner)that determines these controls. According to proper capitalistic goals, these conglomerates must provide a service/good that sells, turn as much profit as possible to increase capital, and invest that capital back into their business interests to improve and better sell those products/services. This leads to the use of mass media as a marketing tool to increase profit, affecting programming. I'll argue that what can be perceived as restrictive or biased TV programming may not actually be from malicious intent--these companies may just be operating as they are intended to operate.

Now for something a little bit political. I try to follow news programs from a variety of sources, and really enjoy those that hold and express political views/tendencies because they allow us to see the source of the ways in which they cover the news. What's troubling to me is those that don't, especially in local news channels supported or owned by such media giants as ABC, NBC, CBS... Everything we see has political and social implications, and when news programs are promoted as politically neutral or, even more dangerous, don't address political affiliation at all, that type of news information becomes normalized as "just regular news" and we don't have a framework within which to inform our interpretations. This, not the overt censorship or conspiracies that some claim, is how our perception of the world and cultural ideologies are controlled. Again, I'm not going to say that this is of any conscious intent, because all I can see is the social implications of the above.

We can also talk about the ways in which this TV control perpetuates (I'll argue this is in part due to the success of the types of programs shown) the problematic normalization of heterosexuality; gender, race, and class inequality; and a variety of and the justification of many forms of violence. However, this is already a HUGE post and I'm starting to run out of steam! xP

So here are two closing observations. First, there is a huge discrepancy between the news shown on syndicate giants' stations and that shown on PBS (notably Democracy Now! and World Focus), both in form and substance. I've seem much more coverage of Iran's election drama and less of the North Korean issue on PBS than in other news sources. I'm still trying to figure out what to make of that, lol.

Second, something interesting brought up by the article that led me to this website. News coverage deeply affects our understanding of and reaction to war. The Vietnam War was, afaik, the first widely publicized war (again, please correct if wrong!). This may have influenced the (in)famous related anti-war movement and protests. The Gulf War was covered much more sparsely, and the first invasion of Afghanistan was almost entirely omitted. Neither of these military movements instigated the same outcry as the Vietnam War. The invasion of and war in Iraq has received voluminous coverage, possibly more than the Vietnam War (?), again inciting wide-ranging anti-war sentiments. Yet these sentiments have slowly dissipated and growing sense of ambivalence has been taking hold. I wonder if this is the result of "too much" media coverage--if we have become partially desensitized to the conflict. I'm not saying this is true of everybody, everywhere, but it's an undeniable presence in at least some communities.

Thanks to anybody who actually reads this instead of saying "tl;dr". I hope it makes some sort of sense. FYI, this is all coming from an undergrad sociology student disillusioned by but willing to work with both primary US political parties.
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@Bob P December 13th

BBC - not owned by Jews but run by them and many of the presenters and newsreaders are Jewish by name or ethnicity. There is a definite bias for Israel, eg they refused to air the Disaster Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza after Operation Cast Lead in January this year on the grounds that they had to be impartial!

The services are paid for by licence fees which you have to buy even if you watch or listen to the programmes on the internet. Cost this year £139.50

There used to be a Board of Governors but this was replaced by a Trust with a chairman Sir Michael Lyons. The Trust reports to a Government minister but as most of the politicians are members of Friends of Israel lobby groups, you can judge how impartial the governance is.

The Director General is Mark Thompson who has a Jewish American wife called Jane Blumberg from memory. They both went to Israel to visit Sharon when he was PM. Enough said.
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I was just looking for companies Viacom owns and came across this page. I uploaded a film called "Who Killed The Electric Car" on youtube and all of the 9 10 minutes parts are fine except part 5. Viacom states they own some small snipet of audio/video in that part. It has a scene from Naked Gun 2 1/2 but I edited that out being I thought that was the claim, but it was tagged again the very moment I uploaded it. WTF? I've been through this part 20 times and I can't for the life of me find anything that they would hold copyrights to. The only news broadcast clip is one by PBS and I believe they have no relation with Viacom. This copyright business is getting ridiculous and the more they enforce it the more it will hurt them. Who Killed The Electric Car is such an important film for all to see, it makes me wonder if they even have a real claim to it. Unfortunately, youtube's appeal system asks for very personal information from me if I wish to fight the claim, and they actually warn I should obtain legal counsel before I file one. I can't even ask what material is being claimed. UGH!
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Some one said it's a good thing these stations aren't owned by a Prime Minister, true, they should be owned by a Priest, or some one w/ moral.
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John Decker (40), Brian Doherty (42), Deb Brennerman (54), Arthur (56), Me (57), Celia (62): You are all on my list-- as a Jew. Since I have so much power, I recommend that you watch your every step.
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Comedy Central is awesome and so is MTV i also love science channel and Discovery although they were not mentioned. As long as Viacom can get me to laugh and rock out to music i don't care what lawsuits they file. Most people boycotting Viacom probably don't know what they are inadvertently doing and that they are the group of people that are going to get rid of MTV and Comedy Central.
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But who do these companies pay to have there channels on the television? . I believe they are renting the channels .the question is from who
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Why are some Jews so chauvinistic?

So Jews do control MSM and of course Banking. Wow! No wonder the Israel lobby is so strong. And now I am starting to fell suspicious about the media fanning the flames of hate against Muslims - are the media Jews encouraging Christians to fight Israel's wars?

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Tonight the History channel had a show about "made in America" WAY TO GO= History Channel. We need to focus more on the products made in America. I think a lot of people want to buy the products made here, but it's hard to know where they are made. Can't go by the name, many " American Co." are now in China. Let's promote American products and get the jobs back in America before it's too late. Thanks again History Channel.
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People talking about Jews needs to get their heads examined, those companies priorities are set by corporate conservatives. Most of whom are Christian not JEWISH.

The U.S. media are rapidly being monopolized by a dwindling number of parent corporations, all of whom have conservative economic agendas. The media are also critically dependent upon corporations for advertising. As a result, the news almost completely ignores corporate crime, as well as pro-labor and pro-consumer issues. Surveys of journalists show that the majority were personally liberal in the 1980s, but today they are centrists, with more conservatives than liberals on economic issues. However, no study has proven that they give their personal bias to the news. On the other hand, the political spectrum of pundits -- who do engage in noisy editorializing -- leans heavily to the right. The most extreme example of this is talk radio, where liberals are almost nonexistent. The Fairness Doctrine was designed to prevent one-sided bias in the media by requiring broadcasters to air opposing views. It once enjoyed the broad support of both liberals and conservatives. But now that the media have become increasingly owned and controlled by corporations, conservatives defiantly oppose the Fairness Doctrine. This is probably the best proof that the media's bias is conservative, not liberal.

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