At least nine media companies have already filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States after failing to raise enough cash from investors to survive.
The companies include News Corp, the owner of the New York Post, CBS Corp, CBS Interactive, Disney and CBS Corp TV, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The US is a market that has witnessed a steep rise in media concentration and concentration of ownership.
The new ownership is set to include a slew of media giants such as ABC, ESPN, CBS, Disney, Time Warner, Time Inc and Comcast.
“The new owners will be the largest holders of media assets in the country,” said Jim Albrecht, director of communications at the Media Research Center, an advocacy group that monitors media ownership.
“So they’ll be able to control how the news is distributed and what stories are covered, and it’ll be the most concentrated and the biggest in the world,” he added.
“And it will be a huge headache for the people who have the biggest media holdings in the US.”
The rise of media ownership in the past year has been particularly notable in the digital media space, where the number of companies holding media assets increased by over 20 per cent in 2016.
In January, News Corp bought the Washington Post for $130bn, which made it the largest media company to be bought by an American billionaire.
The move made News Corp the biggest shareholder in the New Yorker, which has been run since 2004 by the Washington-based publisher and publisher of the Wall Streets Journal.
Since the start of the year, News has owned the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, The Associated Press, The New York Times Company and other publications.
News Corp’s purchase of the Post, which it purchased in 2018 for $350bn, will give it more control over how its publications are covered.
The company also owns the Washington Times and other newspapers, including the Los Angles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and Boston Globe.
News Corp, which had been struggling to raise cash from a sale to Comcast in late 2016, will continue to have access to the lucrative market for media content, which is growing at an alarming rate.
“This is a huge opportunity for News Corp,” said Albrech.
“It’s a huge challenge for News, it’s a challenge for the industry as a whole.”
Media ownership also has become a major battleground for Democrats, who have long used media consolidation to expand their control over the news and public discourse.
In 2020, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called for a “media revolution” to “bring down the cost of access to information, to ensure that people are able to have a voice, not just in Washington, but across the country.”
The Democratic Party has also been vocal about the importance of media consolidation, with party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) recently calling for a media ownership cap to “allow for the consolidation of ownership of the major news organizations in the most important and diverse markets in the nation.”
The US Chamber of Commerce has also pushed for a consolidation plan, with its executive vice president, James Gorman, saying “the consolidation of media is a major impediment to the development of a truly free and open economy”.
“It is incumbent upon Congress to protect the fundamental rights of consumers and consumers’ rights to access news and information,” Gorman said in a statement.
In an email to Al Jazeera, News said: “News Corp has a history of working closely with Congress, regulators and consumers to ensure the highest levels of accuracy and integrity in our content.
In fact, News will continue its close relationships with both legislative bodies, including Congressional oversight, so we can serve our communities and our communities can serve their communities.”