However, the idea that we have so many different choices when it comes to television is an illusion. When it comes to media, the majority of what seems like many independent channels are in fact owned by only a handful of mega corporations.
What does ESPN and Mickey Mouse have in common? They are both owned by the Walt Disney Company. While the first thing that may come to mind when you hear the word "Disney" may be Disney World, child friendly cruises, and Snow White, the company has quite the sports lineup with all of the ESPN channels and also owns ABC.
General Electric takes the word "general" pretty seriously. Besides light bulbs and power strips, the company is also a major player in the media market. They've got all the bases covered, from the news junkie to the nerd to the emotional part in all of us, since they own NBC, SciFi, and Oxygen, among others.
When a few companies own so many different channels which provide different public discourses, how do we know what's behind these discourses? Why are some topics addressed and others are not? Who decides what is relevant, what is popular, and what product is placed so carefully in your favorite show? It is important for consumers of media to be ever critical and always thinking about what they're watching.
If you'd like to know more about who owns what, here is a nice interactive chart from FreePress.net.