Mergers: A Strategic Weapon

In current years, merging and acquisition (M&A) activity in TV broadcasting and distribution has been searing up. Consolidation in these industries follow a cyclical pattern, with economic and regulatory policies accelerating or slowing down.

A mixture of vertical and horizontal integration and conglomeration, more accurately describes the shifts in political economy and regulatory policy. Below is a list of companies and industries that merged together.

  • Viacom/CBS (1999),
  • AOL/Time Warner (2000),
  • NBC/Universal (2004)
  • Comcast/NBC (2011)

Steve Ross

(1972-1992) CEO, president, and chairman of WCI. ( Warner Communications and Time Warner). Ross was “trying to figure out where the industry was going in a much more farsighted, strategic way than anyone else.” Indeed, Ross’s vision would ultimately be the one guiding the trajectory of media industry consolidation through the next two decades. Through this process there were significant hurdles to overcome; regulatory policy.


Conflict arises between the film studios, HBO, and the Department of Justice (DOJ). There were notions about unhealthy competition in business and vertical integration related to cable industries. The first friction between the film studios and premium cable channels also drew the battle lines for the ensuing conflicts that pit the two industries against one another as the construction of entertainment empires got under way.

The (various entertainment) markets were first construed closely. The convergence of media industries was controlled and slightly restrained for the first few years. By aggressively and actively policing studio involvement in the cable marketplace, the DOJ also inhibited the consolidation of the major film, television, and cable companies for the time being.


  • Drives a New Market
  • Exceed Consumers Needs
  • Drive Innovation and Development
  • Key Personnel and Talent
  • Improve Financial Capability

It was during this time that “regulatory definitions of markets became a political form that was created to benefit new stakeholders seizing the opportunity of new technologies.”


Empire building in the modern era has worked best when companies combine assets to originate new revenue streams, which creates instant cost advantages. As well as protecting market shares and accessing new markets. Lastly, acquiring new products or services and gaining access to resources/capabilities, to achieve more.

Source: HOLT, JENNIFER. Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980-1996. Rutgers University Press, 2011.

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