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Corporations and Cultural Industries

Time Warner, Bertelsmann, and News Corporation

Scott Warren Fitzgerald

Corporations and Cultural Industries: Time Warner, Bertelsmann, and News Corporation, by Scott Warren Fitzgerald, provides an introduction to the political economy of international media corporations. This text fills a fundamental gap in the critical media studies field, expanding on the relative paucity of academic studies. To ground the discussion, Fitzgerald focuses on the growth of three specific media conglomerates: Time Warner, Bertelsmann and News Corporation. Adopting an approach rooted in critical political economy, the book explains the corporations’ growth through an engagement with broader social theories: the wider conditions of capital accumulation (especially theories of corporate competition and financialization); issues of institutional logic and corporate strategies; and the role of states as regulators, mediators of opposed interests, and facilitators of corporate expansion.

The first section presents debates in social theory, addressing issues that pertain to cultural industries and dimensions in which they both challenge and extend these wider social theories. The second section presents detailed case studies of the three contemporary media ‘mega companies’ across the range of operations they coordinate, both within and outside the cultural industries. By analyzing the specifics and complexities of different media industries, Corporations and Cultural Industries examines how financialization processes re-gear the internal operations of media corporations in a manner that pits one sector against another. This book provides an in-depth study that can be used as stand-alone teaching resources or as a valuable supplement to a variety of media courses.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 486Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-4403-9 • Hardback • December 2011 • $126.00 • (£85.00)
978-0-7391-4404-6 • Paperback • May 2015 • $49.99 • (£32.95)
978-0-7391-4405-3 • eBook • December 2011 • $46.99 • (£31.95)
Scott W. Fitzgerald is a lecturer of sociology at Curtin University of Technology.

List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
Preface and Acknowledgments
Chapter One: Cultural Corporations and Capitalist Imperatives
Chapter Two: Corporate Strategy and Structure in an Age of 'Paranational Hypercapitalism'
Chapter Three: Global Media, Regulation and the State
Chapter Four: Time Warner
Chapter Five: Bertelsmann
Chapter Six: News Corporation
List of References
This rather lengthy examination of the consolidation in the media industry begins with the development of a theoretical model drawing from various disciplines including political economy, sociology, economics, and business. One of the author's stated purposes is to consider the inter-firm competition that leads to amalgamation across various media along with the intra-firm competition that emerges as distinct media are brought under one organization's control. Fitzgerald (Curtin Univ., Australia) points out that over several decades globalization has enhanced incentives to consolidate media, and has led to a media labor force in tension with a capitalist class engaged in global financialization and pursuit of profit. To underscore this internationalization, Fitzgerald focuses on case studies of three media conglomerates in the last half of the book: American Time Warner, German Bertelsmann, and migrating News Corporation. The volume is heavily notated and contains numerous tables and figures, but it is heavy reading and not for the novice. Of particular value to those interested in the political economy of media. Summing Up: Recommended.

“Fitzgerald’s book is no polemical rant about the growing presence of large corporations in modern cultural markets. It’s a stunning critical analysis of the relationships between capitalism and culture. Combining theoretical rigour, formidable reading, and careful research, this is one of the most important contributions to the political economy of media this century.”
David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds

Corporations and Cultural Industries is the most compelling, insightful, and interesting book on the historical development of global cultural industries as an extensive form of case studies. Employing social theory and critical political economy, this excellent book analyzes how the forces of financialization have transformed major media corporations, such as Time Warner, Bertelsmann, and News Corporation, while effectively arguing for the primary role of nation-states in the midst of neoliberal globalization. While previous works on global cultural industries have emphasized neoliberal transformation of media corporations by analyzing convergence for synergy effect, the book by Scott Fitzgerald has timely developed a new theoretical framework with his emphasis on the de-convergence paradigm, which is a new trend in cultural industry studies.”
Dal Yong Jin, Professor, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University

“Scott Fitzgerald’s Corporations and Cultural Industries ranks among the very best of a new wave of political economic research that is both theoretically sophisticated and empirically detailed. His rigorous analyses of Time Warner, News Corp, and Bertelsmann demonstrate the importance of taking account of institutional specifics and national media market characteristics in the wider context of macro-level political and economic developments. If his work challenges critical political economists to pay more attention to the nuances of different forms of media ownership, regulation, and shifting value chains, then it also demands that creative industries researchers put these considerations back in the center of media analysis, where they belong. If you think Corporations and Cultural Industries sounds like yet another political-economic rant about ownership concentration of the global media, you’d be badly mistaken. Fitzgerald’s book is a meticulously researched and superbly theorized analysis that deserves to be read by anyone who wants to understand how global media corporations really work.”
Peter A. Thompson, Victoira University of Wellington

Scott Fitzgerald’s study of three of the largest media companies in the world may appear to be the same old story: powerful mega-corporations dominating cultural industries by mergers and profit-seeking strategies. But even if you’re tired of hearing that story, I would recommend a closer look at this book, which presents a nuanced and theoretically sophisticated discussion of corporations and cultural industries. ... this book makes an important contribution to the understanding of this complex terrain. The study is an empirically solid and theoretically impressive analysis of these three super media companies. The extensive survey of current and past literature that has been dedicated to analysing the political economy of media and cultural industries in itself makes this book useful and important for anyone interested in understanding corporations’ involvement in media. And in light of the continuing corporate presence in media developments worldwide, this should include all of us.
European Journal Of Communication

The last three decades have seen governments around the world pursue policies designed to extend the scope of market activity and grant corporations greater operational freedom. The leading communications companies have been major beneficiaries, seizing every opportunity to move into new sectors and expand their geographical scope. As a result, control over the core components of public culture has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a diminishing number of global, multi-media conglomerates whose owners are regular fixtures in the list of the world’s most wealthy. The ascendancy of neoliberal economic policies has allowed a handful of cultural industry capitals to amass extraordinary power to control their environment and has strengthened the class power of business elites. Fitzgerald’s analysis of this process has two great merits. First, whereas most accounts present it as both relentless and unstoppable, he highlights the tensions and contradictions it generates. Second, rather than pursuing the well-worn path of delineating general processes, illustrated with selective data and examples, he grounds his analysis in a meticulously detailed comparison of how three of the biggest and most influential media conglomerates – Time Warner, News Corporation and Bertelsmann – have negotiated the shifting terrain opened up by neoliberal policies and technological innovation. Of the three, Bertelsmann has received the least attention in the English-language literature, but offers a potentially instructive contrast to the familiar pattern of Angelo-American enterprise. These case studies alone make this book a must-read for anyone interested in the political economy of contemporary culture.
Media, Culture & Society