Time Warner is a media powerhouse. Its influence and control spans various media outlets in the realms of film, television, music, and print works. Time Warner’s significant mark in television and film is evident in the great number of subsidiaries that operate under it. Such Subsidiaries include CNN, HBO, WB Network, Kids WB, New Line Cinema, The CW television network and Turner Classic Movies. In the publishing arena, Time Warner has current assets in the form of several magazine publications such as Time, People, Fortune, Essence, Entertainment Weekly, Cycling Weekly, and Sports Illustrated.
Warner Music Group, one of the world’s four largest recording companies in existence, is also owned by Time Warner. For the duration of this course we have examined the role that mass media plays in life at a number of societal levels. Our coursework has further exposed us to the many means through which media permeates virtually all ethnic, cultural, and economic boundaries by connecting differing groups of people often separated by not only physical distance but also the prior mentioned factors. We are introduced to various examples of traditional media such as magazines, radio, film and television.
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As the world’s largest entertainment conglomerate in influence and second largest in revenue generated, Time Warner serves as a gate keeping entity that dominates and dictates much of the media that is read, watched, and listened to by the world‘s six plus billion inhabitants. This paper will discuss the significance of Time Warner as a company, the correlation existing between Time Warner and this course, the role that Robert D. Parsons played while CEO at Time Warner, as well as provide numerous examples justifying as to why Time Warner should be considered a gatekeeper.
According to our text, a gatekeeper is an entity that has decision making power regarding what works will appear in one or more forms of media (Straubhaar, J. D. , LaRose, R. , & Davenport, L. 2012). The extent of a gatekeeper’s influence is characterized by control over who can access what form of media content, in what areas, and at what time. The concept of gate keeping has other interpretations as well. However, for the purpose of this paper; only gate keeping as it pertains to media will be focused upon.
Social psychologist and scholar Kurt Lewin describes gate keeping as the ability to understand how to produce widespread changes in communities. Gate keeping can be described differently in different areas of concentration. In areas such as communication and journalism, gate keeping is used to better understand and shape social systems. In health sciences, operations research, and technology deployment, gate keeping is used for service practices. Time Warner has been very influential in recent and past years.
They have come up with innovative ideas that have been proven successful even through the many changes in the industry of media, an industry that is ever evolving. They have been one of the few company’s who control whether or not the “gate” was open or closed. It is evident that Time Warner has set the pace for other companies to follow. Gatekeepers are able to control exactly what they want the public to hear, see, read, and ultimately know. As it pertains to the act of gate keeping in the media, the true power of such influence is extremely evident in the manner in which information regardless of the medium, is received by the public.
Time Warner has played an enormous role in the influence on the media industry. Like virtually any company, Time Warner has experienced its own number of hurdles. However, unlike many companies in trying times, Time Warner has always managed to remain a profitable and pivotal firm in media, while staying steadfast in generating further revenue. As former CEO of Time Warner, Richard Parsons made a great and effective effort at maintaining and creating the firm’s widespread influence over a multitude of aspects in media. Much of his work as CEO added to the firm’s reputation as a gatekeeper.
Parsons served as the CEO of Time Warner for five years from 2002 to 2007. During his five year tenure, he transformed the company into a more powerful, competitive, and respectable enterprise. Parsons was faced with major obstacles and still managed to persevere through it all. Robert Day, the former co-chairman of Warner Brothers told Business Week in an interview expressed that “whenever we had a problem with one of the units, Parsons was always the guy who would solve it and he would do it in a way that everyone would feel good about the outcome. ” (Bianco, Anthony, Business Week: “Can Dick Parsons Rescue AOL Time Warner? , May 19, 2009)
After finishing his term as CEO of Time Warner, Parsons moved to the role of chairman of the board where he maintained an influence in the company. Parsons is described by many as one of the most powerful media moguls on the planet. Much of Parsons Success as CEO was achieved through many of the firm’s acquisitions of related entities in its industries of business. One such acquisition was that of Adelphia Communications from the Comcast Corporation in 2005. The acquisition yielded Time Warner some immediate benefits and great potential for growth in its lucrative cable division.
As a result of the purchase Time Warner garnered most of Adelphia’s 5. 3 million cable subscribers. Bringing its then total number of subscribers up to 23. 3 million. “As a result of the acquisition and several swaps with Comcast, Time Warner will have strong pockets in Texas and a dominant position in Los Angeles, the largest market after New York, where Time Warner is already the leading cable provider. Time Warner will get most of Adelphia’s 5. 3 million subscribers and plans to spin off a separate cable company that would use its stock to make additional acquisitions. (Fabrikant, Geraldine The New York Times: “Time Warner and Comcast Seal Adelphia Purchase”, Section C; Column 3;Business/Financial Desk; Pg. 4 April 22, 2005)
More acquisitions equates to a broader market and a greater span of influence over what cable customers get to subscribe to and watch. Time Warner’s profit for its third quarter in 2006, tripled as a result of the acquisition of Adelphia Communications. “Net income increased to US$2. 32-billion, or US57 cents a share, from US$853-million (US18 cents) a year earlier, New York-based Time Warner said in a statement. Sales rose 6. 5% to US$10. 9-billion. (Cecile Daurat, Bloomberg News: “Time Warner triples profit: Adelphia purchase boosts revenue at cable division”, Financial Post; Pg. FP18 November 2, 2006) Another example of Time Warner’s gate keeping traits that can be sited, is its decision making power over The Walt Disney Company’s programming made available through many of its ABC, ESPN, and Disney networks. In 2000, acting Time Warner President Richard Parsons and Disney President, Bob Iger both signed off on a deal in which Time Warner agreed to pick up Disney various ESPN networks, the Toon Disney channel, as well as its subsidiary ABC’s, Soapnet network.
This deal was an attempt to settle past dispute between Time Warner and the Disney Corporation involving an original contract that was provided by Time Warner and refused by Disney. Disney called for Time Warner to renegotiate the deal. What could be referred to as a battle between media juggernauts began when as a result of Disney’s maintaining its stance; Time Warner opted to cut the access of well over three million viewers of Disney’s ABC networks in seven different cities for nearly two days. This gesture exhibited Time Warner’s great ontrol over Disney’s content and viewership, and served as a clear message to Disney Executives. This example of influence over what is viewed, who views it, and when it is viewed, are all hallmark qualities of a gate keeper. (Furman, Phyllis Daily News: “Media Giants On Same Wavelength” BUSINESS; Pg. 44 May 26, 2000) In music, Time Warner is dominating force, having an undeniable mark on the industry.
Warner Music Group is comprised of three different groups. That is licensing, recording, and publishing. Under its recording division exists major recording labels such as Elektra, Rhino, Atlantic, Warner Bros. Reprise, Teldec, and Sire. With well over 30 affiliate companies and operation in all of the six inhabited continent and its music publishing group, Warner/Chappell music owning the copyrights of over one million songs. In March of 2010 acquired the music libraries of both Groove Addicts Music and Carlin Music.
The acquisition garnered Warner/Chappell over 4,000 songs, track and cues from popular television shows. In addition to that Warner/Chappell secured the rights to Burt Bacharach’s New Hidden Valley catalogue that includes much of his classic music and any future works that he makes. Among Groove Addicts’ 44,000 songs and cues are scores for such television shows as Deal or No Deal, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Super Nanny. Carlin Recorded Music Library, with more than 30,000 tracks, is a leading supplier of production music to clients in advertising, film, media, radio and television. ” (Morgan, Richard Daily Deal/The Deal: “Warner/Chappell acquires production music libraries”, March 26, 2010). The implications for such acquisitions of the right to of these various works are enormous, further substantiating the assertion that Time Warner is a gate keeper.
Gate keeping entities are those that influence what members of the greater public hear, read, and watch. There exists immense control over the modes of communication that present information to others. Acquisitions of communications companies, rights to music, and dictating the frequency of programming for a major communication entity is characteristic Time Warner’s gate keeping qualities. As it relates to this course, Time Warner presents itself as an ideal model to study for the purpose of further understanding the concept of gate keeping and consequently adding significance to our coursework.