The altering of the American economy from one depending primarily on competition with the economies of other nationalities to one depending chiefly on cooperation with others took place in the middle of the 20th century. The result was an “information economy.” Centralized mass production began to experience a drop while simultaneously there was a rise in the number of office workspaces produced for business.
“Mass media industries seized the opportunity to expand globally. They began marketing music, movies, television programs, and computer software overseas…the media mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A) drive that had begun in the United States in the 1960s expanded into global media consolidation by the 1980s” (Campbell 418). A great example of American media’s jumping into overseas sales around this time was a tactic used for the corny yet lovable Batman TV series (1966-68) produced by 20th Century Fox. The same year as the release of the first season of the show the first Batman film was released (with the same main cast from the show) for the primary purpose of gaining the show popularity in foreign countries.
An earlier example which showcases a more significant and surprising cooperation between nations was that between America and Japan for the creating of two adaptations of the same film: Gojira – released in the United States with a slightly differing cast under the title of Godzilla. This was in 1954, a mere nine years after we unleashed the atomic bomb on two Japanese cities to show the world the awful power we had developed.
Many of the media-based businesses comprising the media economy are one of three design models: a monopoly, an oligopoly, or the characteristic of limited competition. From the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s, critics called out the famous American businessman John D. Rockefeller for his outlandish prices on oil and associated products. In the 1870’s, Rockefeller aided in the forming of a private coalition between oil refiners and the railroads. This was obviously done for the purpose of monopolizing on the industry.
“Beginning in the early twentieth century, Congress passed several acts intended to break up corporate trusts and monopolies, which often fixed prices to force competitors out of business” (Campbell 420). Yet, in the early decades of that century, there persisted a concept (originated in the 1880’s) of social Darwinism among certain elite. This was a notion which applied Charles Darwin’s natural selection theory to politics, the economy, and other areas of society. An advocate of social Darwinism would likely be the person who would not think twice about putting a smaller company out of business because he would see it as just another economic struggle in the “survival of the fittest.” If your company did not make it, that was just because the economy selected it for termination.
A few decades down the road, American businessmen claimed the earlier laws Congress had passed placed too many hindrances on the “flow of capital essential for funding business activities” (420). Pres. Jimmy Carter began the initial deregulation・of some of these earlier legal barriers for businesses. The Telecommunications Act (1996) allowed for a certain amount of monopolizing of industries such as radio and television.
In modern times, we see companies such as Disney buying out and merging with other big media companies like Marvel, Lucasfilm Ltd., and FOX. Disney is one of the biggest media empires in the world to date. Inevitably, it was the information economy and the deregulation that paved the way for this type of sizeable union to be possible.
“Chapter 14: Media Economics and the Global Marketplace.” Media Essentials: a Brief Introduction, by Richard Campbell et al., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018, pp. 415–436.
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