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The 100 Leading Media Companies are ranked by U.S. operating revenue generated by their media properties-largely defined as distribution services supported by advertising.

Revenue from non-media activities are not in totals. Non-media areas in this report and among these companies generally take the form of book publishing, book and record clubs, TV/movie production and syndication, real estate, paper mills, wireless services and Yellow Pages. However, a Yellow Pages' chart is shown separately (see chart below).


Revenue is either for yearend '96 or the latest available fiscal year and may be stated pro forma. The pro forma readings ensure that revenue composites for the 100 as a group are sustained year-to-year, otherwise whole divisions or complete companies that were sold would be off the books and off the chart for at least a year.

Most of the mergers and acquisition activity in U.S. media takes place among these companies. For example, revenue for publicly held Clear Channel Communications includes full-year returns for new acquisition Eller Media Co., a 100 member last year, and the 46 radio stations acquired from Paxson Communications Corp. Not included in Clear Channel are returns for Travel Channel, a cable channel it is under contract to buy from Landmark Communications, another 100 company.


Pro forma totals allow a more current reading of media players in the constantly shifting acquisitions market for radio and TV stations: CBS Corp., Chancellor Media Corp., American Radio Systems, Capstar Broadcasting Partners and SFX Broadcasting are moving ever upward.

Chart entries generally bear the name of the parent, but in the case of companies with broad segments the entry is the known media unit.

A company must own more than 50% of a media unit before consolidating revenue. This standard accounting practice allows four companies to receive a listing: Lifetime Television, owned 50/50 by Hearst Corp. and Walt Disney Co.; A&E Networks, owned 37.5% each by Hearst and Disney and 25% by NBC's owner, General Electric Co.; USA Network, 50/50 owned by Viacom and MCA; plus Primestar, owned by several cable operators.

Figures for the public companies cited are pulled from public documents, although may be adjusted by a company's own pro forma readings or by those of Advertsing Age. Revenue for non-public companies is either provided by the company or estimated.

Estimates are calculated by Ad Age editors or obtained from the following: for cable, Paul Kagan Associates; radio, BIA Research and Duncan's Radio Market

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