Who Has the Biggest Profits, Big Oil or Big Media?

The media have repeatedly given air time to charges that the oil companies are taking advantage of consumers and earning unfair profits. Throughout the year reporters have alleged "oil companies...are making massive profits," "oil companies have watched their profits soar" and "record profits for the oil producers." But how do these oil profits compare to those of the media companies, themselves?

On November 9th, Congress held hearings and demanded that oil company executives, as ABC’s Jake Tapper said, "explain themselves as to why they’re experiencing record profits." Using Yahoo! Finance, I looked up the profit margin numbers for five of those oil companies and for five of the major media companies.

Looking at both industries, three of the top five companies with the highest profit margins were media companies. Comparing the average profit margin for the top five in each oil and media was complicated by the fact that Viacom, which owns CBS, actually lost money for the period covered by Yahoo’s numbers. The average of the four profitable media companies was a profit margin of 8.83%. Throwing Viacom’s zero into the average pulls it down to 7.06%. While the top five oil companies averaged a profit margin of 8.13%. With an average profit margin of 8.83% maybe ABC, NBC, CNN and Fox could be a little less greedy and reduce the number of commercials they sell.

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