Not only are media corporations increasingly concentrated but they are also increasingly connected "through a dense web of partnerships, cross-investments, and personnel" (see diagram below - click to enlarge). For example in 2008:
National Amusements, the family company of Sumner Redstone, maintains a controlling 80% stake in both CBS and Viacom. NBC Universal and News Corp. jointly own the online content provider Hulu.com, launched in 2007 as a rival to Google's YouTube streaming video platform. Time Warner's AOL, Microsoft's MSN, News Corp.'s MySpace and Yahoo! also provide distribution for the Hulu platform. But while Hulu represents an effort to break YouTube's hold on the digital video market, its backers have formed strategic partnerships with Google elsewhere. In 2007, Google signed a $900 million contract to provides advertising delivery for News Corp.'s MySpace social networking site.
Thus these multi-media conglomerates simultaneously compete and collude on a case-by-case basis according to their business needs.
Media companies are connected through interlocking directorates, that is, shared board members. "According to a study by Aaron Moore in the March/April 2003 Columbia Journalism Review, News Corporation, Disney, Viacom, and Time Warner have forty-five interlocking directors."
The dominant five media conglomerates have a total of 141 joint ventures, which makes them business partners with each other. To cite only one example, News Corporation shares a financial interest with its "competitors" in 63 cable systems, magazines, recording companies, and satellite channels in the United States and abroad. All five join forces in one of Washington's most powerful lobbies, the National Association of Broadcasters, to achieve the laws and regulations that increase their collective power over consumers.
The interconnections also include shared key management personnel. For example, in 2008 Time Warner had such interconnections with companies such as American Airlines, Bayer, Citigroup, Colgate-Palmolive, Estee Lauder, Kellogg, Kraft, Morgan Stanley, New York Stock Exchange, Omnicom, and Westfield America and many others. Many of these are also major advertisers and Omnicom owns some of the world's largest advertising and PR agencies (see Giant Communications Companies).
NBC shared key management personnel with Apple, BP, The Carlyle Group, Chevron, The Chubb Corporation, Coca-Cola, General Motors, J.P. Morgan, Kellogg, Kimberly-Clark, Microsoft, Ogilvy Group, Proctor and Gamble,Texaco, Unilever, Wal-Mart, Xerox and Young & Rubicam aswell as political associations including the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Council on Foreign Relations Grocery Manufacturers Association.
According to Ben Bagdikian, in his book The New Media Monopoly, the owners of the world's largest media conglomerates:
are American and foreign entrepreneurs whose corporate empires control every means by which the population learns of its society. And like any close-knit hierarchy, they find ways to cooperate so that all five can work together to expand their power, a power that has become a major force in shaping contemporary American life. The Big Five have similar boards of directors, they jointly invest in the same ventures, and they even go through motions that, in effect, lend each other money and swap properties when it is mutually advantageous.
It is not necessary for a single corporation to own everything in order to have monopoly power...
One result of this constricted competition is that the thousands of media outlets carry highly duplicative content.