Capital Cities bought ABC, with its 230 affiliated stations, for $3.4 billion in 1986. Also owns: 8 TV stations; 9 dailies, 74 weeklies (Kansas City Star); radio networks with 3,000 affiliated stations; 21 radio stations; a cable programming company; some 60 publications (Women’s Wear Daily, Compute!, Modern Photography). The largest shareholder is Omaha investor Warren Buffett.

Laurence Tisch, owner of Loews Hotel chain (and active in pro-Israel fundraising), bought a controlling share in 1986. Henry Kissinger is a CBS board member. Also owns: 7 TV stations; 21 radio stations; two radio networks.

General Electric, fifth largest industrial company in the US and a major Pentagon contractor, bought RCA, parent company of NBC, for $6.4 billion in 1986. Also owns 6 TV stations.

Owned by Ted Turner/Turner Broadcasting System. CNN’s 24-hour cable news reaches 58.9 million households worldwide. Also owns: TNT, cable entertainment program.

Founded in 1967 as taxpayer-funded non-commercial television, PBS is now also supported by foundations and viewers and is increasingly “underwritten” by corporations. Governed by the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (Bush appointees include David Prosperi, press secretary for Dan Quayle in 1988 campaign, and Victor Gold, former Bush speechwriter and co-author of Bush’s autobiography).


Atlanta Journal
Cox Enterprises, Inc. Also owns: 17 other newspapers; 12 radio stations; 7 TV stations; Cox Cable Communications, the fifth largest cable company in the world.

Boston Herald
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which controls the most newspaper circulation in the world (in Australia, Hong Kong, Britain, New Zealand and the US). Also second-largest magazine publisher in the US (TV Guide, Seventeen, New York), and owns: 7 TV stations; Twentieth Century Fox; Fox Broadcasting; the largest satellite TV system in Europe.

Chicago Tribune
The Tribune Company. Also owns: 7 other newspapers, fourth in circulation nationwide; 6 TV stations; 4 radio stations; a TV production company.

Denver Rocky Mountain News
E. W. Scripps. Also owns: 18 other dailies, ninth in circulation nationwide. Also controls: one of top 20 cable companies; Scripps Howard Broadcasting.

Los Angeles Times
Times Mirror, controlled by the Otis Chandler family. Also owns: Newsday, Hartford Courant, Baltimore Sun, fifth in circulation nationwide; four book companies; magazines; the ninth largest cable company; 4 TV stations.

Miami Herald
Knight-Ridder. Also owns: 28 other dailies (Philadelphia Inquirer, Detroit Free Press), second in circulation nationwide; business news and information services; electronic retrieval services; graphics and photo services; cable TV and newsprint manufacturing companies.

New York Times
The New York Times Corporation, controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family. Also owns: 31 other dailies; half of International Herald Tribune; New York Times News Services (600 outlets worldwide); 5 TV stations; 2 radio stations; consumer magazines.

San Francisco Examiner
Hearst Corporation. Also owns: 12 other newspapers; 6 TV stations; 7 radio stations; King Features Syndicate; Avon Books; Arbor House Publishing; William Morrow; 13 consumer magazines, ranking third in revenues (Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Popular Mechanics).

USA Today
Gannett, largest US newspaper chain, with 82 dailies in 34 states. USA Today second largest circulation paper in the US. Also owns: 16 radio stations; 10 TV stations; newswire service; Louis Harris and Associates polling agency; Freedom Foundation.

Wall Street Journal
Largest circulation newspaper in the US, owned by Dow Jones. Also owns: 23 other dailies; Asian and European editions of Far Eastern Economic Review; Barron’s; Dow Jones News/Retrieval (databases); Dow Jones News Services; AP-Dow Jones; customized information services.

Washington Post
Controlled by Katharine Graham family. Also owns: Newsweek; half of International Herald Tribune; 12 community newspapers; half of LA Times-Washington Post News Service (600 outlets, 34 countries); Post-Newsweek Cable TV; 4 TV stations; Legi-Slate (computer database on the US government).


Largest circulation newsweekly (4.6 million) owned by Time Warner, second largest media corporation in the world, formed by the 1989 merger of Time, Inc. and Warner Communications (top record, film and TV production company). Also owns: Scott, Foresman; Little, Brown; other book companies; Book-of-the-Month Club; magazines (People, Life, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Money and Entertainment Weekly); ATC (second largest cable company); Home Box Office and Cinemax.

See Washington Post.

Sources: Ben Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly (Boston, 1990); Left Business Observer, January 17, 1989 (New York Times Co.), April 6, 1989 (GE/NBC), June 13, 1989 (Capital Cities/ABC), August 15, 1989 (CBS), December 13, 1989 (Washington Post Co.), April 20, 1990 (Dow Jones), October 26, 1990 (Times Mirror); Broadcasting Yearbook 1990; Editor & Publisher International Yearbook 1992; Standard & Poor Standard Corporation Descriptions, October 1992; Martin Lee and Norman Solomon, Unreliable Sources (New York, 1990). On PBS see Extra! (September 1992).

How to cite this article:

Martha Wenger, Sally Ethelston "Who Owns the News?," Middle East Report 180 (January/February 1993).

For 50 years, MERIP has published critical analysis of Middle Eastern politics, history, and social justice not available in other publications. Our articles have debunked pernicious myths, exposed the human costs of war and conflict, and highlighted the suppression of basic human rights. After many years behind a paywall, our content is now open-access and free to anyone, anywhere in the world. Your donation ensures that MERIP can continue to remain an invaluable resource for everyone.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This