By  on May 17, 2007

Bigger seems to be better in the media world these days, from Rupert Murdoch's $5 billion bid for Dow Jones Co. to Thomson Corp.'s $17.2 billion merger with Reuters. In its first survey of top global media owners, London-based ZenithOptimedia ranks the world's largest by 2005 media revenues, the latest figures available. Media revenues are defined as those "deriving from businesses that support advertising, which would include not only advertising revenues, but also other monies such as those earned via circulation sales for newspapers or magazines, for example," said the report. Though many of those represented are media focused, others, such as General Electric, are conglomerates whose media divisions are relatively minor players in their operations. And, though some companies in the overall rankings are privately held, such as Advance Publications (owner of WWD), Hearst Corp. and Asahi Shimbun Co. (Japan), the top five from both the U.S. and Europe are publicly traded firms.

TIME WARNER

Media revenues (2005): $29.8 billion

Outdoing its closest competitor by $13 billion in media revenues is New York-based Time Warner. While its three TV subsidiaries, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Turner Broadcasting System and HBO continue to do relatively well, Time Warner's Internet business, AOL, remains beleaguered, as does its magazine division, Time Inc. The publisher of titles such as In Style, Time, People, Sports Illustrated and Fortune was forced to cut hundreds of jobs earlier this year as revenues slid. Time Inc. admitted it is pumping more investment into the Web versions of its titles than the print magazines. Time Inc.'s first-quarter revenues fell $15 million from a year ago to $1 billion due to restructuring charges and declines at certain titles.

NEWS CORP.

$16.7 billion

What doesn't Rupert Murdoch own — or want to own? Murdoch is in the news again as he tries to snap up Dow Jones Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, for $5 billion. He has been making the rounds to reassure Dow Jones shareholders the Journal would remain independent, although some believe he could use Dow Jones to provide content for his upcoming business news channel. According to the report, more than 100 newspaper titles, including the New York Post and London's The Sunday Times, fill the portfolio. TV properties include Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Channel, Fox Cable Networks and a stake in British Sky Broadcasting (see below). Now it's big online, too, via its purchase of Intermix Media, owner of MySpace.

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