Deregulation, integration and a new era of media conglomerates: the case of Fox, 1985-1995
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In 1985, the film and television industries began a decade-long process of realignment. In this dissertation, I show how News Corp., primarily via its subsidiary, the Fox network, played a central role in redefining the relationship between motion picture studios and television distributors from 1985 to 1995. I analyze how the company successfully launched and expanded Fox Broadcasting by cultivating productive relationships with a variety of different stakeholders including advertisers, the creative community, independent television stations, regulators, cable operators, cable program services, and the press. This study uses trade publications and mainstream press reports to chronicle and analyze a period that has been understudied by scholars. Through the use of these resources, I describe the specific regulatory, economic and technological conditions enabling the emergence of a fourth network. This discussion is followed by an analysis of how Fox further shaped these conditions while also introducing a number of significant programming, marketing and distribution innovations to broadcasting. Through Fox’s heightened emphasis on targeting specific demographics, its aggressive pursuit of a brand identity and its development of niche-oriented television programming, the company redefined network television along with the larger media landscape. Indeed, Fox, along with parent company News Corp., initiated a new era for media conglomerates. This era was marked by network-studio integration and the increased economic and marketing value of network television programming to entertainment companies.