New Report Grades Sustainability Reporting of the Top Entertainment Companies

Roberts Environmental Center gives top marks to Bertelsmann with Walt Disney, CBS, and Viacom close behind

Jul 22, 2009, 13:00 ET from Claremont McKenna College

CLAREMONT, Calif., July 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Claremont McKenna College's Roberts Environmental Center today released a detailed analysis of the social responsibility reporting efforts of the world's top entertainment corporations. All but the highest-scoring company is based in the US. The report contains a compilation of Pacific Sustainability Index scores evaluating the environmental and social reporting of the 14 entertainment companies on the 2008 Fortune Global 500 and Fortune 1000 lists.

The report scores companies based on the reporting, intent, and performance of their environmental and social sustainability efforts. The research, based entirely on material released on the firms' Web sites, found that Bertelsmann, a German firm, and CBS, Viacom, and Walt Disney, outperformed the industry giants News Corp. and Time Warner. Size, however, was not found to be a determining factor in the quantity or quality of describing details of companies' socially beneficial actions and environmental management.

"The Entertainment sector is not very active yet in sustainability reporting," said J. Emil Morhardt, Roberts Professor of Environmental Biology at Claremont McKenna College and director of the Roberts Environmental Center. "But, its largest potential influence on public and corporate sustainability behavior could be through its commercial products. Addressing issues such as climate change and ecological damage in TV and radio programming, in movies, or in Web sites (such as Viacom's MTV Switch) is likely to be far more influential than publicizing anything done in the course of company operations." But, as Morhardt pointed out, "There isn't a good way yet to quantify, or even identify such activities."

To create the report's ranking, Morhardt and his team evaluated each company's Web site using the Pacific Sustainability Index including sector-specific questions. The index uses a general systematic questionnaire to analyze the quality of sustainability reporting. The selection of questions was based on the most frequently-mentioned topics in almost 1,800 corporate sustainability documents analyzed from 2002 through 2008 by the Roberts Environmental Center. The companies' grades in this report were assigned on a grading curve, giving an A+ to the highest scoring companies and those with scores near it.

"In the current business climate, a demonstration of corporate social responsibility is more important than ever," continued Morhardt. "What we are analyzing is the quality of that demonstration--how transparent the companies are with respect to their environmental and social issues, and how good a job they are doing resolving any problems they currently have and avoiding future ones."

The detailed analyses also reveal what social and environmental themes these companies perceive to be most important to the American public today. The research screened Web site content to determine the most frequently reported topics. Companies with environmental achievements tended to tout their accountability and energy efficiency efforts while socially responsible businesses highlighted their superior policies and care for human rights.

To view the complete report, visit:

About Roberts Environmental Center

The Roberts Environmental Center is an environmental research institute at Claremont McKenna College located in Claremont, Calif. Its mission is to provide students with a comprehensive and realistic understanding of today's environmental issues and the ways in which these issues are being and can be resolved. The Center strives to identify, publicize, and encourage policies and practices that achieve economic and social goals in the most environmentally benign and protective manner.

                                 Scoring Summary

    Highest Overall Scores
        Walt Disney

    Highest Environmental Reporting Scores
        Walt Disney
        News Corp.
        Warner Music Group

    Highest Social Reporting Scores

    Lowest Overall Scores
        Warner Music Group
        Univision Communications Inc
        Live Nation, Inc.

SOURCE Claremont McKenna College