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AOL Time Warner remakes media map

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The Top 30 media companies wield media power that draws 80% of the revenue of the Top 100.

And the most active "investor" among these companies is not one of their members yet-Liberty Media Corp. Liberty, its status as a subsidiary of AT&T Broadband with its own tracking stock changed to a separately traded company in mid-August (too late for its own ranking among the Top 100), holds interest in 13 media properties of the Top 30.

The Top 30, amassing total revenue of $145.5 billion, also is epicenter of cable's power elite led by AOL Time Warner's $12.4 billion from cable. Eight companies in which cable is the biggest media pot delivered revenue of $50.9 billion, nearly 92% of all cable registered by the Top 100. Fourteen other companies with cable revenue remain in the rest of the Top 100.

Newspaper-based media companies among the Top 30 were most numerous, taking 10 of the slots and generating revenue of $28.1 billion, some 21% of it from Gannett Co. But five TV-based companies drew greater revenue volume of $34.9 billion from TV and radio, with Viacom claiming 28% of the pot.

Six degrees of separation certainly is the operative phrase for U.S. media conglomerates, beginning with what graphically resembles electronic circuitry around Liberty. If allowed to claim revenue based on its minority holdings in just these media companies, Liberty would swell from $1.53 billion to $6.37 billion in revenue. Of course, that would be coloring outside the lines of generally accepted accounting rules.

Apart from Liberty's octopus-like presence, the Top 30 hold sometime sizable investments in 15 other Top 100 media companies. The presence of those investments, shown on this page and the succeeding editorial page, mean this representation of media family trees actually covers 45 companies.

Revenue speedsters among the Top 30 are in the Internet and direct broadcast satellite fast lanes. Online revenue rose 35.6% to $10.73 billion from eight media companies; the sole two DBS companies advanced 48.3% to $7.14 billion.

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