Private Equity, Private Media


  • Ronald V. Bettig College of Communications Pennsylvania State University


Mass Medi, Political Economy, Private Equity, Privatization


Recent dramatic increases in private equity (PE) control of publicly-traded media companies raise a number of serious concerns for communications scholars, media consumers, and active citizens. The effects of PE activities include increased concentration in an already highly concentrated communications industry, a shift of control of media from Wall Street to PE firms, and a tougher time for media workers. Furthermore, PE firms are literally private—as in secret—hence the general public remains largely uninformed about PE buyouts of media firms. Issues include the control of capital in the U.S. and globally, and the ways in which this control shapes media content and form. Finally, since PE firms do not have to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, valuable information upon which radical political economists have traditionally relied to investigate relationships between capital and communications also has become private. This essay explores and analyzes the entry of PE into the communications system with four compelling examples.

Author Biography

Ronald V. Bettig, College of Communications Pennsylvania State University

Ronald V. Bettig is Associate Professor of Communications at the Pennsylvania State University at University Park where he teaches the political economy of communications. He is author of Copyrighting Culture: The Political Economy of Intellectual Property, (Westview Press, 1996.) He has published numerous articles, book chapters and other essays drawing upon the political economic approach to the field of communications. He has presented papers at numerous conferences and invited lectures around the world. He is co-author, with Jeanne Lynn Hall, of Big Media, Big Money: Political Economics and Cultural Texts, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.)