Media companies have been as subject to the difficult financial conditions as other companies in recent weeks, with stock prices reflecting declining confidence in their prospects and in some cases heading for a possible change of ownership.  Perhaps the most apocalyptic description of the coming destruction has come from the UK.  “We are standing at the brink of what will be two years of carnage for western media,” Emily Bell, the digital director at UK’s Guardian, said at a conference in the UK last week, as reported in the Guardian.  “In the UK five nationals could go out of business and we could be left with no UK owned broadcaster outside of the BBC. We are facing complete market failure in local papers and regional radio. This is systematic collapse not just a cyclical downturn.”


But multinationals with strong balance sheets, such as News Corp. (Fox, etc.) are also seeing trouble ahead.  News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting last week that “Fiscal 2009 will be a year of many – in some cases unprecedented – challenges.  We cannot fool ourselves into believing otherwise.”  


DC parent Time Warner’s stock price has been hammered, with concerns about the ad-supported portions of the business weighing down over-all expectations. 


TV Guide, once the most profitable magazine in the U.S., was sold this month for $1, with a loan from seller to buyer to help the buyer finance the liabilities that came with the magazine.    


Margin calls are affecting ownership of media companies as they are in other industries.  Sumner Redstone has been forced to sell stock in Viacom (MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount) and CBS because of the declining value of his stock holdings, and he may end up having to sell his voting stock in Viacom to satisfy the need for cash, according to reports.    


While paid entertainment has historically held up fairly well in tough times, ad-supported media has not done as well, the source of the concerns for media companies dependent on ad revenues.