How to Use this Site

Who Owns the News Media was developed to enhance the information available in the State of the News Media report, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual report on the health of American journalism. The tool uses a tab format to house specific data related to all companies, and to companies within the main sectors of media including newspapers, online, network, cable and local TV, magazines, radio and ethnic media.

Following are key features of the Who Owns the News Media site:


The goal of Who Owns the News Media was to create a tool that aggregated comparative information on the companies that own news media properties. We wanted to do this within each media sector as well as more broadly across news media over all. To do this, we took several steps. First, we identified the various U.S.-based companies within each media sector. In some cases, the list is so long that we determined a cut-off point for which companies to include. The newspapers sector, for example, includes all companies with a total weekday circulation of 100,000 or more.

Next, we looked for relevant statistical data that were available for most companies and could be compared from one company to the next. Some data are compared within the media sector and other data, like total revenues, can be compared across all companies.

The process and rules for identifying the companies and statistical data are detailed below.

Company Selection

The following criteria were used to determine the list of companies. We limited our database to U.S.-based media companies.

Newspapers: This list includes companies that sell at least 100,000 newspapers on an average weekday based on Monday-Friday circulation figures reported to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. We started with all newspapers with a circulation greater than 100,000 according to the September 2010 statements assembled by the audit bureau. In cases where a newspaper is owned by an operating unit of a larger company, we list the parent company.

Cable TV: For cable television, four companies own all the news channels: Time Warner, News Corp., General Electric and Bloomberg.

Network TV: Network TV comprises the four owners of U.S. television networks that have a national news division and distribute their content on broadcast television: Disney, CBS, Comcast and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Online: The list of online companies is based on Nielsen’s News and Information list, comScore’s top news sites and Hitwise’s top news sites list. We included companies that own the news sites on these three lists.

Magazines: We started with the Advertising Age list of 100 Leading Media Companies, 2010 data. We narrowed the listed to those companies that have revenues from magazines. Then we eliminated companies that exclusively produce business-to-business magazines and then those that produce only regional publications or inserts.

Radio: For the list of radio owners, we began with BIA Financial Network’s list of combined cumulative audience for station owners. We have included in this database all companies with 2 million or more cume listeners as of winter 2011.1 BIA gets its station ratings from Arbitron. For Sirius XM we do not provide cume listenership because data was not available from Arbitron.

Local TV: Listed here are companies that own stations that collectively reached at least 3% of United States television households as of winter 2011, and own at least one station that air local TV news. Data on household reach come from the Federal Communications Commission as compiled by BIA/Kelsey and found in the Media Access Pro Database.

Ethnic: Unlike other groupings, the list of ethnic media owners cuts across media sectors from television to print to cable to radio. It covers U.S.-based companies that own foreign-language outlets in the U.S., as well as English-language properties that target ethnic audiences. Those included here reach at least 100,000 consumers through a combination of their broadcast, cable and print entities. The data come from a variety of sources. For daily newspapers, we used average daily circulation for Monday-Friday, when available. For magazines, we used average per-issue circulation over 6 or 12 months, when available. For radio stations, we used estimated listeners for spring 2011. For television broadcast stations and networks we used the best available metric, which varied by outlet and was often provided by those outlets. In some cases it was an estimate of viewers, in others the average number of households tuning in. For cable channels, we used average viewers when available. When that was unavailable, we used the number of households that received the cable channel. Some companies have been omitted because they failed to provide PEJ with information.

Statistical Data

Once the list of companies was compiled, researchers then began aggregating all companywide data that were available on a regular basis. After sifting through all those data, we came up with measures that were comparable across companies. Descriptions of each measurement follow below.

In addition to the comparable lists, we created company profiles pages that include thumbnail description of each company, along with additional data.

Media Sectors: The sectors in which the company has significant operations. Bold-faced type indicates that the company has a listing on the media sector page of Who Owns the News Media.

Number of properties owned: The number of media properties the company owns in the specified sector. For newspapers, it is the number of daily newspapers as reported in the Audit Bureau of Circulations database in 2011; for cable TV, is it is the number of all-news cable stations; for network TV, it is the number of networks; for magazines, it is the total number of magazines owned, both news and non-news; for local TV, is it the total number of English-language local broadcast television stations as reported by BIA/Kelsey; and for ethnic, it is the total number of U.S.-based news outlets including radio stations, newspapers, magazines, local television stations, cable channels and online-only outlets.

Financial data: All financial data are based on the calendar year of January to December. For companies with fiscal years that varied from the calendar year, we added up the four quarters that fell within the year. For publicly traded companies, we took the data from their own reports or their media releases or from filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For nonprofits, we sought public filings. For private companies that do not disclose financial data, we sought out estimates from reputable investment information firms such as Hoover’s. For radio all private company estimates are based on BIA Financial Network figures that are submitted by the company, or estimated by BIA.

The financial data are as follows:

Total revenue: Current and previous year

Profit: Current and previous year

Sector revenue: The revenues reported by the company for an operating division that includes a given media sector. Note that in some cases the revenue may include operations unrelated to sector, such as a division called newspaper and information services. For companies that do not report data by a media unit, the field is left blank.

Percent of revenue from media: Amount of annual revenue, expressed as a percentage of total revenue, attributed to the company’s holdings in these media sectors: network TV, cable TV, local TV, newspapers, audio, magazines, and online. For companies that do not report revenue in sufficient detail, this is listed as unavailable. In the case of companies whose operations are substantially all media but may include small amounts of non-media revenue – newspaper chains, for example, that also offer contract printing services — we listed it as 100%.

Sector Audience

Newspapers: Total circulation of all newspapers owned, based on average weekday circulation for the preceding six months reported in the March 2009 Audit Bureau of Circulations statements.

Cable TV: CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and HLN audience figures are median prime-time viewership (P2+) in 2011. The CNBC and Fox Business Network audience figures are mean prime-time viewership (P2+). Bloomberg Television, CNBC World and CNN International are not publicly rated by Nielsen.

Network TV: Combined average monthly viewership of morning and evening newscasts for the calendar year. Data from Nielsen.

Online: Monthly unique visitors for all news sites averaged over 12 months of 2011. These figures are from both Comscore and Nielsen, depending on the site or group of sites.

Magazines: Total circulation of all U.S.-based magazines, that they reported for the last six months audited for each year, ending December 31, according to circulation figures provided by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Radio: Cume listeners for all radio stations owned by a company, taken from Arbitron ratings from spring 2011, gathered from BIA Financial Network database. Cume is short for “cumulative audience”; it is a measure of the total number of listeners over a given period. We do not include cume listeners for NPR or Sirius XM because at the time of this report Arbitron did not procude cume listener figures for these companies.

Local TV: The percentage of U.S. television households covered by all stations held by an owner as of spring 2011. Data on household reach come from the Federal Communications Commission via BIA/Kelsey Media Access Pro Database.

Biggest property: The property a company owns in a sector that commands the largest audience. Among newspaper companies, for example, it is the daily paper owned by the company with the largest average daily circulation. Audience measurements vary across sector and match the criteria used for total audience.

  1. Cume is short for “cumulative audience”; it is a measure of the total number of listeners over a given period.