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Can You Repeat That? Patterns of Media Ownership and the “Repurposing” Trend

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The article examines shifting patterns of ownership for cable programming services from 1994 to 2003. In these years, vertical integration in the cable industry declined, as cable's multi-system operators divested equity in programming services. Meanwhile, broadcast network-owning media conglomerates invested heavily in cable, tripling their holdings among the top 20 most fully distributed cable channels, as well as launching and acquiring dozens of additional, less widely distributed channels. In light of the Federal Communications Commissions' recent attempts to revise rules regarding television ownership, the author argues that while vertical integration has declined, the market power of the broadcast networks has grown by means of a new kind of horizontal integration that reaches across broadcast and cable channels. This shift is reshaping cable as a market which, despite growing product differentiation, is trending toward less competitive conditions that are akin to the broadcast oligopoly. This article shows that these broadcast-cable alliances contributed to the development of the new synergistic practice of repurposing.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: College of Staten Island, City University of New York, USA

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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