The Entertainment Race


Since the beginning of the 20th, companies in the film industry have been in a competitive race to capitalize on as many revenue streams as possible and be the top media giants in the country. In Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980-1996, Jennifer Holt suggests when Warner Bros released the famous DC comics movie Batman, they were one of the first to combine synergistic entertainment with corporate media power to make as much money as possible across all revenue streams. This turning point further pushed other media giants to follow the same path as Warner Bros and take advantage of all areas of the media industry in order to keep up in the race.

As the industry grew and gained more power, during the 1980s and 1990s regulations were placed on media ownership due to formations of monopolies. Media giants began to play with the idea of merging companies and expanding overseas in order to get around the domestic regulations being placed on their companies. Holt explains how these mergers allowed them to maintain their large, domestic economic influence while also expanding into the foreign markets and creating revenue from entertainment distributed around the world.


One of the most important of these mergers to occur was between Time Inc. and Warner Bros in 1989. According to Holt, executives of Time and Warner debated against Congress for various reasons why the merger of their company should take place. Their main argument, that eventually won over Congress, was that it would not only be beneficial to America on a domestic, but also international scale. They noticed how foreign revenue was increasing much faster than domestic revenue and saw this as an opportunity to use their media empire to increase America’s competitiveness in a global spectrum. Additionally Holt explained how in the 1980s, foreign companies were beginning to buy out American media studios because of their popularity overseas. Congress was not pleased at the sight of foreign companies buying out these profitable, domestic companies and saw the Time and Warner merger as a potential way to fight back and keep up with the foreign competition.

hollywood-edit_wide-676dc7f3abd90e3ba52227e08b661dd16fba558e.jpgAs Holt claims in her novel “What Saudi Arabia is to oil, the United States is to entertainment” (Holt, 131), she points out how our country is able to thrive economically due to our large output of popular entertainment. If you look on a more global scale of the entertainment industries, America is the most influential and prevalent country out there, largely due to this crucial time period of big company mergers. This final outcome of the Time Warner merger resulted in a media empire that gave the U.S. the power to take the reins and become the leading entertainment industry in the world.

Jennifer Holt, Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980-1996 , (Rutgers University Press , 2011).


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