Well, as I was reading the back pages of the Wall Street Journal this morning I came across and article about Emmis Communications Corp.’s announcement that it plans to sell some or all of its 16 television stations to concentrate on its radio business. So, I started penning another installment of my “Media Deconsolidation” series only to then stumble upon a separate story about Disney’s potential move to sell off its ABC Radio assets.
These moves by Emmis and Disney aren’t really all that surprising. As I’ve noted in previous posts, media deconsolidation is all the rage these days. The list of high-profile media divestitures and divorces continues to grow: Clear Channel, AOL-Time Warner, Disney-Miramax, Cablevision, Viacom, Liberty Media, Sony, and on and on. They all have been pondering or carrying out major spin-offs or restructuring plans in recent months.
This is all part of the ongoing “mass media meltdown” that continues to ravage many media operators. While alliances and acquisitions were in vogue in the late 90s, it’s all about shedding assets and getting back to basics these days. This is particularly important today as older media operators face serious threats from new media technologies and outlets. They cannot allow the decline in certain business units be a drag on their overall business or else they will die a slow but certain death. (Check out this amazing post on Chris Anderson’s “Long Tail” blog for all the ugly details.)
What this confirms is that the media sector is far more dynamic and competitive than most media critics care to admit. Giants come and go but, in the end, consumers are given more choices and better service with each passing year. In my forthcoming book, Media Myths: Making Sense of the Debate over Media Ownership, I discuss all this in much greater detail and try to set the record straight in this regard since many media critics continue to make outrageous claims about the state of media diversity and competition. I also encourage everyone to read Ben Compaine’s latest study on the true state of the media marketplace. It’s another masterpiece by Ben. (Also, please check out Ben’s new blog here for more details on this study and all his fine work.)