Despite volatility in the media industry, families who made their fortunes in publishing, cable and radio, held their own in 2016 — and some even prospered.
According to Forbes‘ America’s Richest Families list, the Waltons of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., were once again on top with an estimated net worth of $130 billion. But the family’s worth dropped 12.8 percent from $149 billion in 2015.
Forbes said the richest 25 families are collectively worth $722 billion this year, $11 billion less than the top 25 were a year ago.
Following the Waltons were the Koch, Mars and Cargill-MacMillan families with respective net worths of $82 billion, $78 billion and $49 billion.
The Cox family, which owns newspapers, television and radio stations, among other enterprises, ranked fifth with a net worth of $41 billion, $6.5 billion more than last year. The Hearst family slipped in the rankings a bit — falling to the ninth spot from sixth a year ago. Forbes said the family that built media’s Hearst Corp. is worth $28 billion, down $6 billion from 2015.
The Newhouses of Condé Nast held the 11th spot and actually managed to increase their net worth by $5 million for a total of $18.5 billion.
Elsewhere, the Lauder family ranked 12th with $17.9 billion, up from last year’s net worth of $16.5 billion. The Ziffs, who own an investment arm as well as publishing firm Ziff Davis (recently in the news for its stalking horse bid on bankrupt Gawker Media), had a net worth of $14.4 billion. Last year, the family had an estimated net worth of $15 billion.
Forbes, which ranks the top 25 families, explained that it focuses on individual or nuclear-family wealth. As a result, the richest families can range from just three to 3,500 members. Forbes said it left out self-made entrepreneurs who founded their own companies and already appear with their nuclear family on its “Forbes 400 list.”
A little more on the methodology — in order to obtain a net worth, Forbes said it tallied up family members’ assets, including stakes in public and private companies, real estate, art and cash. Debt was also taken into account. For publicly traded holdings, stock prices were used from the close of June 17, 2016, and any assets “irrevocably” pledged to charitable foundations were excluded. Numbers were vetted with families or their representatives.