The Global 50

World's leading entertainment companies by annual revenue

Our seventh annual list of the top 50 entertainment companies around the world features familiar players, some in new combos — such as Vivendi and Universal — and some in more elevated positions — such as Viacom and Clear Channel, both of which bulked up on lucrative assets in the last year.

Cablers and satcasters rallied on the revenue side but continue to take major profit hits as enormous investments in infrastructure and hard-ware mount.

In the face of the worst advertising market downturn in a decade and the deflation of the dot-com bubble, corporate strategies across the G50 board called for belt-tightening. If 1999 was all about convergence and Internet synergy, 2000 (and the first half of 2001) was about layoffs and cost-cutting.

There’s a sense that things can only get better, but the question is: When? Be it later in the year or in early 2002, entertainment congloms remain cautious.

Meanwhile, a couple of Euro giants are pondering public life. Following the lead of smaller Teutonic distributors and media companies, behemoths such as Bertelsmann and Kirch Group are eyeing stock market flotations.

Stateside, look for more buyouts and mergers under the Bush administration. The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Com-mission, for example, is likely to further relax ownership rules and bless more deals than did the previous incarnation.