Microsoft has billions of dollars directly and indirectly invested in media corporations. Some of their past and present employees have media connections and power.
- Together with NBC they own and operate the MSNBC cable news channel and web site.
- In 1997 the New York Post reported Microsoft was investigating the finances of CBS in consideration of purchasing the broadcaster.
- Microsoft invested $1 billion in Comcast Corp. in June, 1997. In return Microsoft got an agreement to own up to 11.5% of Comcast, the fourth-largest cable company at the time.
- Microsoft bought 10% of the Road Runner broadband internet access provider for $212.5 million in 1998.
- Founder Paul Allen is a major investor in CNet.com.
- Melinda French Gates, wife of Bill Gates and a Microsoft employee from 1987 to 1996, is a member of the board of directors of The Washington Post Co., which owns The Washington Post newspaper, Newsweek magazine, the Kaplan Inc. educational services company, TV stations, and the CableOne cable TV system.
- SBC Communications Inc. signed a 10-year, $400 million agreement with Microsoft to provide television services using Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software. One service the software provides is digital rights management.
- "Microsoft's local Director Responsible for Information Society Relations, Mikael Jungner, has been appointed director general of YLE, Finland's national public services broadcasting company... Jungner appeared as a surprise winner after months of consideration of candidates with more obvious qualifications in the broadcast industry." (Lettice, John. "MS Exec to Head Up Finnish State Broadcasting." The Register 22 Nov 2004)
- Time Warner and Microsoft jointly own most of ContentGuard Inc., which develops technology for [digital rights management].
- Bill Gates founded Corbis in 1989. Corbis licenses "images seen by millions of people daily in advertising, books, newspapers, magazines, on TV, and in films."
How much influence does Microsoft have over the information dispensed by these media outlets? It's disconcerting when any one corporation has so many strong ties with a wide variety of media. What affect it has on [public perception] and society's awareness of issues may never be known. But one has to wonder why a public software company would accumulate so much potential power in media organizations which have little or nothing to do with computers. One possibility is their desire to control digital media formats and therefore profit from licensing and related software. Another possiblity, fostered by their investment in cable companies, is to sell the software for media-related electronics, such as set-top boxes. Whatever the reason the potential influence and power are undeniable.