The question of power relationships (financial, commercial, editorial, political, ideological, etc.) and spheres of influence in the media field has interested me for several years. In the course of my research and reading, I came across a very exhaustive study of this issue by an international group of experts: Who Owns the World’s Media? Media Concentration and Ownership around the World, led by Eli M. Noam and published in 2016. This is probably the most comprehensive scientific work on this subject at international level, despite the fact that the publication, and above all the context of the data used, dates back more than seven years.

As a result, we can see the changes that have taken place since that time (~2010-2015 in terms of the data, although the analyses take account of the 20-30 years prior to publication). To give just a few examples, the rise of Netflix had only just begun; their expansion accelerated precisely in the second half of the decade (2016-2020), when the book was published in January 2016. The acquisition of 21st Century Fox by the Walt Disney Company was not finalised until 2019. Viacom and CBS Corporation merged in 2019, taking the name ViacomCBS, then Paramount Global in 2023; Sumner Redstone, who died in 2019, was succeeded by his daughter Shari Redstone at the head of this media empire. Nevertheless, as these examples show, the concentration of capital in the media sphere, as in most economic sectors, continued after 2015. This is one of the fundamental dimensions of capitalism, as noted by Marx in 1867.

I used some of the data included in the book to create a visual representation of this phenomenon. To do this, I first had to extract the data tables from the PDF of the book, and perform an extensive clean-up in Excel. I then created an alluvial diagram representing the ownership/properties/investments in the media sphere of the ten biggest economic governments, individuals, and groups of investors (or “institutional investors”). I also made a bubble chart showing the value of their assets, in billions of US dollars; I integrated these proportional bubbles with a flag of the country of origin into the final visualisation. Lastly, I added icons representing the sectors/fields in which these capitalist players are dominant.

It should be stressed that this infographic is not exhaustive, nor does it give a complete picture of the data, results and analyses included in the study/book. For example, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is not included simply because he was outside the global top 10 of capitalists; this obviously doesn’t imply that the economic, media and political power of Murdoch and his family are secondary.