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05.14.04
Politics and Economy:
Paying for Politics
More on This Story:
Media Companies and Campaign Finance

The origins of campaign financing in the United States date back to 1791, when groups supporting and opposing Alexander Hamilton published competing newspapers designed to sway the electorate. From that early exercise in paying for press a massive budget has grown. Today paying for advertising and media exposure eats up a good chunck of a campaigner's bankroll. But the funds don't all flow one way. Large media companies are also major contibutors to campaigns and to both politics parties. Learn more below.

Also, see who owns what among the biggest players in American media.

Top Media Companies' Campaign Contributions, 1999-2002
Company (listed in order of revenue)* 2000 Election Cycle 2002 Election Cycle Company Total Democractic % Republican %
AOL Time Warner** $4,195,811 $2,009,691 $6,205,502 63 36
Disney $1,505,182 $1,282,839 $2,788,201 55 45
Viacom $1,066,275 $2,092,341 $3,158,616 81 19
Comcast $613,609 $567,672 $1,181,281 47 53
Sony $323,840 $227,799 $551,639 67 33
Vivendi Universal $2,126,960 $1,271,363 $3,398,323 65 35
News Corp. $1,041,873 $743,995 $1,785,868 38 62
Cox Communications $250,741 $88,000 $338,841 56 44
Clear Channel Communications $167,450 $537,910 $705,360 25 75
NBC $166,650 $82,745 $249,345 77 23

1As ranked by BROADCASTING AND CABLE
2Ameica Online and Time Warner merged Jan. 11, 2001. Figures for the 2000 cycle include both companies' contributions. Figures for the 2002 cycle represent the combined operation's contributions


Data compiled by Open Secrets from data released from the Federal Election Commission on April 28, 2003. Totals include PAC, soft money and individual contributions to federal candidates, party committees and leadership PACs, 1999-2002.

Additional source: The Federal Election Commission's history of campaign finance.

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