Sunday, October 28, 2007

Time Warner and 1990s Media Monopolization

According to the March 27, 1989 issue of The Nation magazine, Time Inc.’s management initially told Time magazine’s business section editors and writers “not to cover the merger story” after Time Inc. purchased Warner Communications in 1989.

Henry Muller was the managing editor of Time magazine during the early 1990s. He graduated from Stanford University in 1968 [and also sat next to former Stanford University Provost Condi Rice on the Carnegie Corporation of New York foundation board of trustees in the 1990s], after having worked for Time Inc.’s Life magazine as a student intern during the 1960s. According to Muller, “The Editor-in-Chief did not want to do a story” on the Time Warner merger only because of deadline considerations. “Our deadline is on a Saturday and the merger news was announced on a Saturday.” But he has told reporters that he was “mistaken” not to cover the Time Warner merger story.

Yet according to George Winslow, a freelance writer who writes about the mass media, “Time Inc. released the news on Saturday to avoid wide coverage” of the Time Warner merger and “Newsweek beat them to the punch. Time wasn’t critical with many aspects of the merger—even those aspects that affected Time Inc. stockholders.”

In The Nation magazine’s March 27, 1989 issue, writer Richard Pollack criticized the Time Inc.-Warner Communications mass media merger for expressing a business trend that “daily accelerates the country’s terminal homogenitization.” Pollack also noted that Ohio’s then-U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum “was concerned about the merger’s impact on media diversity” and had “asked the Justice Department to review the antitrust implications.”

Time Warner has sometimes been criticized for using Time magazine to promote the products being marketed by other Time Warner media institutions it owns. In its June 18, 1990 issue, for instance, the New York Times observed that:

Newsweek magazine has taken Time magazine to task over Time’s cover story on novelist Scott Turow, whose paperback publisher is owned by Time Warner and whose first book was turned into a movie produced by Time Warner subsidiary Warner Brothers.”

Newsweek had reported the following in its “periscope section”:

“What responsibility does the magazine group of Time Warner have to let its readers know that a film it praises in a news story was produced by the movie part of the corporation? None, if you ask the company. Last week’s curious cover story in Time was about Presumed Innocent author Scott Turow, whose new book The Burden of Proof has received mixed reviews. The article offered lavish details about the upcoming movie version of Presumed Innocent but neglected to mention Warner Bros. made the movie. Time spokeswoman Jennifer Epstein said the magazine did not have a responsibility to report the corporate connection and denied there was a conflict of interest. She also said Time never identifies which movie company made a film.”

(Downtown 10/24/90)

Next: Interviewing Time Magazine’s Managing Editor In The 1990s