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Empires of Entertainment

Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980-1996

Empires of Entertainment integrates legal, regulatory, industrial, and political histories to chronicle the dramatic transformation within the media between 1980 and 1996. As film, broadcast, and cable grew from fundamentally separate industries to interconnected, synergistic components of global media conglomerates, the concepts of vertical and horizontal integration were redesigned. The parameters and boundaries of market concentration, consolidation, and government scrutiny began to shift as America's politics changed under the Reagan administration. Through the use of case studies that highlight key moments in this transformation, Jennifer Holt explores the politics of deregulation, the reinterpretation of antitrust law, and lasting modifications in the media landscape.

Holt skillfully expands the conventional models and boundaries of media history. A fundamental part of her argument is that these media industries have been intertwined for decades and, as such, cannot be considered separately. Instead, film, cable and broadcast must be understood in relation to one another, as critical components of a common history. Empires of Entertainment is a unique account of deregulation and its impact on political economy, industrial strategies, and media culture at the end of the twentieth century.

Author Information

Jennifer Holt is an assistant professor of film and media studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the coeditor of Media Industries: History, Theory, and Method.


"Incisively argued and elegantly written, Empires of Entertainment shows the anti-democratic character of huge concentrations of media wealth and the manner in which an ideal of the public good has been sacrificed on behalf of unfettered corporate power."
— Stephen Prince, author of Firestorm: American Film in the Age of Terrorism

"Jennifer Holt has written a concise, captivating, and much-needed history of industry and regulatory developments in U.S. television since the eighties. It will be required reading for scholars of industry history and anyone interested in contemporary media policy."

— Michele Hilmes, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Holtelegantly details the twists and turns of the political economics of U.S. film and TV industries at the end of thetwentieth century. With a keen eye for the subtleties (and sometime ironies) of corporate thinking, she reveals aprocess that is both very political and very human. Empires of Entertainment sheds new light on how the media really works.”
— Thomas Streeter, author of The Net Effect: Romanticism, Capitalism, and the Internet

Audience: College/higher education;