This is an automatically generated PDF version of the online resource india.mom-rsf.org/en/ retrieved on 2019/08/25 at 01:39
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) & Data leads - all rights reserved, published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Data leads logo
Reporters without borders
  • Data Lead Logo
  • Reporter without borders
en
hi

Indicators of Risks to Media Pluralism


Media Audience Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of audience and readership across India’s media platforms based on audience share. Generally, concentration is measured by using the nation’s top 4 owners in the media market.

Why?

India presents a special case where the methodology used by MOM has to take into consideration certain specificities of the market. Indian market is highly fragmented along the genres and linguistic lines: only in news genre one can speak of at least 10 different linguistic markets and when put all together they provide a picture of plurality, that impression, however, changes when zoomed into the regional level. The methodology to measure concentration based on the top 4 owners  might not be able to capture the complexity of the Indian media market.

This indicator assesses a high risk to media pluralism in India due to several factors: missing data for Television market; the print media market in India is comprised of highly concentrated regional / linguistic markets; and radio presents a single monopoly in news genre.

Television

In India, audience viewership is measured by the industry-led body BARC which was accredited by MIB in July 2015, to carry out the television ratings in India. It is the sole provider of TV rating services on commercial basis. 

Measurement of audience ratings is important as they influence programmes produced for the viewers. Presently, BARC has installed ca. 33000 people meters across India. BARC was set up with an aim to “commission, supervise and own an accurate, reliable and timely television audience measurement system for India”.

Currently, BARC publishes weekly TV ratings which are taken off next week from their website.  BARC defends publishing small amount of data to avoid misrepresentation. 

MOM has approached BARC for audience data and has had numerous meetings and email correspondence, however, the data was not provided in the end and it was made clear that MOM couldn’t use their data available online in any form. BARC India on its website claims that it is the largest measurement company of its kind in the world, however they failed to provide annual average data on Indian TV viewership.  

As per recent media reports, heads of television stations and industry groups asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to improve measuring system of TV viewership in the absence of proper data. The Economic Times reported on Feb 27, 2019 that, BARC failed to provide any clear reason for not publishing the rating and viewership data and this reflects poorly on the credibility of the data. In fact, TRAI has issued a show cause notice to BARC for not complying with its direction on release of TV viewership data.

Another issue that is being criticised time and again is the sample size of BARC’s data which is questionable. BARC’s 30,000-panel homes is supposed to be representative of India's 1.3 billion peoples’ TV viewing pattern. This number is argued to be extremely small compared to the population size and does not represent India's cultural, linguistic and geographical diversity. 

There have been instances where channels approach BARC panel homes and they are paid to watch certain channels in order to scale up their viewership numbers. All this has sparked continuous debates on accuracy of data and whether the data is tamper proof or not.

Radio

All India Radio (AIR) is the national public and the only news radio broadcaster of India.  AIR is the largest radio network in the world covering a wide spectrum of languages and social-economic groups.  In India, private broadcasters who run FM radio stations have the license to provide music and entertainment content, but are barred from producing news.

The Government argues that small/community radio stations due to paucity of funds may be exploited by radical organisations or they may not be able to afford authentic news sources. Also, the radio channels may pose a possible security risk as the contents cannot be monitored.

However, ahead of 2019 elections in India, India’s public broadcaster Prasar Bharati allowed private FM stations on a trial basis till May 31st to carry the news bulletins of its radio arm, All India Radio without any alterations, with no additional news content and simultaneously with the AIR broadcast or within thirty minutes excluding disturbed/border and Naxals areas.

This indicator assesses a high risk to media pluralism in India in the absence of more than one radio news broadcaster except the public broadcaster which has full monopoly over production, collection and broadcasting of news in India on radio.

Print

India’s print media market is one of the largest in size with over 17000 newspapers printed daily in at least 13 languages: Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, English, Malayalam, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali, Oriya, Kannada, Punjabi, Assamese and Urdu. In order to reflect the complexity of the market MOM has included publications with the highest reach across different languages including Hindi (8 outlets), Tamil (3 outlets), Marathi (2), Malayalam (2), Telugu (1), Gujarati (1), Bengali (1), English (6).

MOM looked into 25 newspapers across different linguistic markets. The sample of 25 outlets captures the newspapers with the highest readership figures according to the Indian Readership Survey, 2017, and represents 73% of the audience share.

To begin with, we looked at the top 4 Publishers Jagran Prakashan Limited, HT Media Limited, Amar Ujala Publications and D.B Corporation Private Limited and all the newspapers owned by them. A cumulative audience share from top 4 print owners is 35% reflecting medium risk to pluralism. However, this doesn’t give us a clear picture.

The 35 % figure represents only the Hindi newspaper market while ignoring regional print media industry. That is because Hindi market is the largest market within the print sector, around 45.45% of the entire print market. So, when the top 4 newspapers are looked at on an All India level, the top 4 editions would be in Hindi. Given the linguistic diversity, it was imperative to look at language markets separately.

Therefore, audience share within each language market was calculated discretely. Findings reveal that language markets are highly concentrated with top one or two major players capturing more than half of the audience share. The audience share in the regional markets were calculated on the basis of the top 5. Top 10 figures are available only for English and Hindi markets.

Tamil language market is dominated by Daily Thanti and Dinkaran with 43.80% and 22.86% audience shares respectively. This adds to 66.66 % highlighting that the top two publishers have captured more than half the audiences and the market is highly concentrated. Also, the figures in absolute numbers show a massive difference between top first and top fifth newspapers explaining that the remaining newspaper have an insignificant audience share.

Similarly, Malayalam and Bengali markets are highly concentrated markets, with Malayalama Manorama and Mathrabhumi capturing 75.75% audience share.  In Bengali, Ananda Bazar Patrika and Bartaman have 73.90% audience share capturing one fourth audience share of the total market.

Moving further, Punjabi represents a highly concentrated market with Jagbani and Ajit sharing 82.64% audience share. There is a difference of a double digit in absolute numbers within top first and top fifth newspaper. The readership figures of the fifth newspaper in line dwindle down to few hundreds and reflect insignificant audience share of the remaining newspapers.

Oriya, Marathi and Kannada are comparatively less concentrated but with an audience share of 50% and above. These markets are also high risk with a concentration of audience share between top two or three owners.

For Assamese language, it was found that Asomiya Pratidin has 43.51% audience share and Asomiya Khabar has 16.38% audience share reflecting a high concentration with 59.89% audience share.  Moreover, Gujarati has 70.68% audience share with Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh as the market players.  The other major concentrated market is the Urdu market with Inquilab and Roznama Rashtiya Sahara having 59.68% audience concentration. Inquilab has an audience share of 42.79% and Roznama Rashtiya Sahara has a share of 16.89%. The remaining three newspapers out of five have a very minor share.

The findings from the study reflect that the regional language market is highly concentrated with the major audience share confined within top two or three media organisations. This finding is very important for two reasons, it highlights the diversity issues related to audience behaviour and consumption and its counter effect on the content diversity which may lead to radical propaganda with an influence on its audience. 

It has been established that media coverage in Hindi has been the widest in India.  Given the size of Hindi and English media, figures based on top 10 newspapers of both the language markets were calculated. The study looked at top four media outlets out of top 10.

It was found that Dainik Jagran of Jagaran Prakashan LTD, Hindustan of HT Media LTD, Amar Ujala and Dainik Bhaskar of D.B Corporation Ltd has a 76 per cent audience share in the Hindi reading media market. These four newspapers have a lion’s share and the market is highly concentrated with a very insignificant amount of audience share in remaining top ten media outlets. Dainik Jagran is a dominant player and it has 25.15% audience share in the Hindi newspaper market and Hindustan has 18.72% audience share.

Within the English language market, The Times of India of Bennet Coleman & Company Ltd, Hindustan Times of HT Media, the Hindu English of Kasturi and Sons and The Economic Times of the Times Group dominate the audience share with 75.15 %. The Times of India with a 34.65% share Hindustan Times with 18.18%, The Hindu with 14.08% share and The Economic Times with 8.24% share control the audience readership in the English language market.  

A closer look at the language markets tells that there is a common thread between language markets.  HT Media LTD has dominant newspapers - Hindustan and Hindustan Times capturing some big audience shares within both English and Hindi media. Both the newspapers have 18% share separately within each language market reflecting audience concentration of both the languages under one company.  Similarly, the top Hindi and Urdu newspapers - Dainik Jagran of Hindi and Inquilab of Urdu language are owned by Jagran Prakashan LTD. 

The findings highlight that the newspaper language markets are highly concentrated with few top players controlling the audience readership share in India.

Print Readership Concentration
LANGUAGE MARKET TOP 2 OWNERS OUT OF 5AUDIENCE SHARESHARE OF THE MARKET

Hindi*

Dainik Jagran

Hindustan

Amar Ujala

Dainik Bhaskar

76.45%45.45%

Tamil

Daily Thanthi

Dinakaran

66.66%8.58%

Marathi

Lokmat

Sakal

58.11%

7.98%

English*

Times of India

Hindustan Times

The Hindu

The Economic Times

75.15% 6.11%

Malayalam

Malayala Manorama

Mathrubhumi

75.75%

5.97%

Telugu

Eenadu

Sakshi

71.13%

5.75%

Gujarati

Gujarat Samachar

Sandesh

70.68%

5.09%

Bengali

Anandabazar Patrika

Bartaman

73.90%

4.93%

Kannada

Vijay Karnataka

Vijayavani

53.20%

4.09%

Oriya

Sambad

Samaja

59.46%

3.34%

Punjabi

Jag Bani

Ajit

82.64%

1.60%

Assamese

Assomiya Pratidin

Assomiya Khabar

59.89%

0.81%

 

Urdu

Inquilab

Roznama Rashtiya Sahara

59.68%

0.30%

*- top 4 out of 10 outlets

LOW MEDIUM HIGH 
Audience concentration in Television (horizontal) 

Percentage: Missing Data

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Audience concentration in Radio (horizontal) 

Percentage: Missing Data

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 

Readership concentration in Newspapers (horizontal) 

Percentage: 53.20% - 82.64%

If within one country the major 4 Owners have a readership share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a readership share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a readership share above 50%. 

Media Market Concentration

Result: No Data

This indicator aims to assess the horizontal ownership concentration based on market share which illustrates the economic power of companies/groups. Concentration is measured for each media sector by adding the market shares of the four major owners in the sector. 

In India, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) regulates companies and collects financial information for all companies registered. Every company operative in India is liable to register. It is also responsible to prevent practices having adverse effect on competition and to promote and sustain competition in markets. Every company is liable to file the financial statements and annual documents on time with the MCA each year. As per Companies Act, 2013, non-filing of annual return is an offence. However, a lot of companies do not provide financial information annually, which makes it difficult to measure the total size of the market. And the penalty for not filing a company’s annual return on time is minimal. Therefore, market share for the companies studied remains unknown and media ownership concentration based on market share cannot be computed. 

LOWMEDIUMHIGH
Market concentration in television (horizontal): This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership within the TV media sector.
Percentage: not assessed
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%.
Ownership concentration in radio (horizontal): This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership within the Radio media sector.   
Percentage: not assessed 
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%.  
Ownership concentration in newspapers (horizontal): This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership within the print sector.
Percentage: not assessed
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Ownership concentration in Internet Content Providers 
Percentage: not assessed   
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%.  

Regulatory Safeguards: Media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and / or competition law) against a high horizontal concentration ownership and/or control in the different media.

Why?

The legislations/laws relating to media concentration, whether cross media ownership, vertical or horizontal integration in India are fragmented and the terms aforementioned have no clear definitions in the existing legislations. India doesn’t have an overarching lex specialis to regulate the media sector; however, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) is the authority that adjudicates in cases of Combinations (acquisitions and mergers), anti-competition agreements and Dominant position to assess whether a transaction is detrimental to competition in the market.

No specific thresholds exist to measure ownership concentration in print, television and online sectors. However, radio seems to have more regulation than other sectors. In addition, although radio has more provisions for concentration prevention, all private media (FM channels) are barred from producing/broadcasting news. All India Radio is the only entity that can broadcast news over radio – all the private FM radio stations can air the news produced by AIR but only in an unaltered form.

Regulation of Radio: In The Policy Guidelines on Expansion of FM Radio Broadcasting Services Through Private Agencies (Phase-III) issued on 25th July, 2011, issued by MIB, the Companies who  are disqualified, amongst other reasons, from applying for a permissions/or bidding are-Companies not incorporated in India, a Company controlled by or associated with a religious body; Company controlled by or associated with a political body; any Company which is functioning as an advertising agency or is an associate of an advertising agency or is controlled by an advertising agency or person associated with an advertising agency; subsidiary Company of any applicant in the same City; Holding Company of any applicant in the same City; Companies with the same management as that of an applicant in the same City; More than one Inter-Connected Undertaking in the same City; A Company that has been debarred from taking part in the bidding process or its holding Company or subsidiary or a Company with the same management or an interconnected undertaking .

The Policy Guidelines lays down the restrictions in respect of multiple permissions that can be acquired in a city and states that every applicant shall be allowed to run not more than 40% of the total channels in a city subject to a minimum of three different operators in the city. The guideline further states that no entity shall hold permission for more than 15% of all channels allotted in the country excluding channels located in Jammu and Kashmir, North Eastern States and island territories.

Regulatory Safeguard Score: 40%

TV: 1.5; Print: 1.5; Radio: 2; Internet: 1; Mergers: 2

Total: 8 out of 20 – High Risk (40%)

1 = media-specific regulation/ authority

0.5= competition-related regulation/ authority

Regulatory SafeguardsDescriptionTVPrintRadioISP

Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?

This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control across all media sectors.

In television, print and ISP sectors there is no specific definition of ‘horizontal concentration’ of ownership or any legislation containing any specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration.  The Policy Guidelines on Expansion of FM Radio Broadcasting Services through Private Agencies of 2011 have certain restrictions based on which MIB issues licences. These Guidelines usually apply to the private FM channels which are largely entertainment channels. All India Radio is the only body licensed to disseminate news.

 0

  0

0.5 

0

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the audiovisual sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.    

The CCI monitors transactions which affect market competition. TRAI, the regulatory authority has also brought in Regulations which promote non-exclusive/non-discriminatory transactions between stakeholders (but these to do not affect horizontal concentration of media ownership) and enforces the terms of the licences issued by MIB.

MIB issues and monitors the issuing of licences in accordance with the FM Radio Guidelines of 2011. TRAI is the regulatory body for radio channels and with ISPs it may look into quality of service, transparency etc. DoT is enforcement body for violations of the NN Policy directives.    

 0.5

0.5  

0.5

0.5

Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioral and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: Refusal of additional licences; Blocking of a merger or acquisition; Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors; Divestiture. 

The CCI has      sanctioning and enforcement powers in order to impose remedies in case of non-respect of thresholds, but the thresholds do not exist. The CCI can take up issues and pass orders based on the market conditions. The sanctioning powers include blocking of a merger or acquisition, however CCI operates in a different sphere (not specific to media) and its decisions are largely ex-post. In respect of Combinations certain thresholds are provided for, above which a notice has to be filed with the CCI. By Government notification of March,2016, these thresholds were enhanced.It is neither a body that grants licences/ permissions nor is it a regulatory body.

The monitoring and enforcement body for violations of the NN Policy directives is DoT.   

0.5 

  0.5

0.5  

 

0.5

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?

This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the television media.

Not many mergers/acquisitions of media companies have been blocked on the ground that the transactions have been adverse to competition in the market.

All India Radio is dominant when it comes to disseminating news and private FM radio channels are largely general entertainment channels. Hence, the sanctioning / enforcement powers even if used effectively do not prevent ownership concentration in the radio market.

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

Total61.51.521
Media mergersDescriptionYesNoNAMD

Can a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the media sector be prevented via merger control/competition rules that take into account the specificities of the media sector?

This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector specific and/ or competition law) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the media sector through merging operations. For instance, the law should prevent concentration in merging operations: -By containing media-specific provisions that impose stricter thresholds than in other sectors;

The mandatory intervention of a media authority in merger and acquisition cases (for instance, the obligation for the competition authority to ask the advice of the media authority);

The possibility to overrule the approval of a concentration by the communication authority for reasons of media pluralism (or public interest in general); -that - even though they do not contain media-specific provisions - do not exclude the media sector from their scope of application.   

There is no definition of horizontal concentration in the Indian media or competition laws. However, the Competition Commission of India might interfere on an ad hoc basis when the competition in the market is threatened.

0.5 

  

 

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with rules on mergers and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system.

It is the Competition law (The Competition Act, 2002) that assesses the transactions of groups/entities/companies that affect the market adversely in respect of competition. The CCI monitors transactions which affect market competition. No media-specific body exists.

0.5

Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: Blocking of a merger or acquisition; Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors; divestiture.   

The CCI has sanctioning and enforcement powers in order to impose remedies in case of non-respect of thresholds, but the thresholds do not exist. The CCI can take up issues and pass orders   based on the market conditions. The sanctioning powers include blocking of a merger or acquisition, however CCI operates in a different sphere (not specific to media) and its decisions are largely ex-post. In respect of Combinations, certain thresholds are provided for, above which a notice has to be filed with the CCI. By Government notification of March,2016, these thresholds were enhanced. It is neither a body that grants licences/ permissions nor is it a regulatory body.

 0.5

  

  

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?

This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the television media.

Not many mergers/acquisitions of media companies have been blocked on the ground that the transactions have been adverse to competition in the market.

0.5

Total

2

Legal Assessment MOM India (2019) by Nisha Bhambhani Contextualisation for Media Ownership Monitor - India 2019
Ministry of Infiormation and Broadcasting, order related to expansion of FM Broadcasting services Accessed on 27 May 2019
Introduction to Compitition Law Accessed on 27 May 2019
Ministry of Corporate Affairs Notification Accessed on 27 May 2019

Cross-media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership across the different sectors – TV, print, audio, and any other relevant media – of the media industry. Cross-media concentration is measured by adding up the market shares of the Top 8 media companies. In this case, financial market shares are not always available. In this case, audience shares for online outlets and radio and TV were not available too. The results are not an indicator for economic strength in different media sectors but rather for the potential influence on public opinion when considering all media types.

Why?

Due to lack of financial data the top 8 firms with the highest revenue across all media sectors (TV, Radio, Newspapers and internet content providers) were not identified. In the absence of financial data the indicator is calculated based on audience shares and as such, the results signify not an indicator of economic strength in different media sectors but rather for the potential influence on public opinion.

However, in India due to lack of audience data in Television, Radio and Online the audience share across media sectors could not be computed. MOM Team identified 8 major companies across television and print sectors based on observation and audience share from print media outlets.

Almost all of the selected media owners have online presence too. Therefore, the data provided might not show the full picture or could even be an underestimation of the real audience reach and potential influence on public opinion these owners might have.

Not all top 8 firms have activities across all sectors. 7 out of these 8 owners have activities in more than one media sector. This confirms the tendencies of cross-media ownership. In addition, the Indian laws have no specific definitions of media ownership concentration (horizontal, vertical or cross-media) neither do specific thresholds exist to measure and / or prevent cross-media concentration. 

  • Zee News is India’s largest television news network with presence both in the national and regional space. Zee Media Corporation is a part of Essel Group, headed by Subhash Chandra. ZMCL has 14 news channels in eight different languages across the country besides 5 online portals and an active youtube channel. The owner’s family also owns a distribution network Dish TV India Ltd. Zee Media is also active in Film and Video production and runs a Film School called ZIMA, Zee Institute of Media Art.

  • TV Today Network is one of India's most diversified media conglomerates with television channels, radio stations, print and a strong digital presence. It has four television channels - India Today in English and Aajtak, Tez and Delhi Aaj Tak in Hindi. The company also operates three FM radio stations under brand ISHQ 104.8 FM in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata along with digital channels including Bharat Tak, Life Tak, Astro Tak, Fit Tak, News Tak, Food Tak, Sports Tak, Tech Tak, Mobile Tak, Kids Tak. Aroon Purie and Kumar Mangalam Birla families own the Living Media Private Limited which is a subsidiary and is together known as India Today Group. They also publish India’s most popular magazines like TIME, Cosmopolitan, Business Today, Reader’s Digest, Mail Today and India Today.

  • ABP Group is a media conglomerate which owns various publications, television news channels, publishing business and has a substantial digital media presence. It owns ABP News (Hindi), ABP Majha (Marathi), ABP Ananda (Bengali), ABP Asmita (Gujarati) ABP Sanjha (Punjabi) and ABP Ganga has a considerable presence on digital platforms with apps and news websites in Hindi, Marathi, Bangla, Gujarati, Punjabi, besides platforms about Cricket, Bollywood and a Matrimonial Site. It also publishes the dailies – Anandabazar Patrika, and The Telegraph in English apart from periodicals like Desh, Sananda, Anandamela, Anandalok. 

  •  Network 18 is a media entertainment company with a diverse interest in television, print, internet, film entertainment, digital business, magazines, mobile content and allied businesses. Network18 is a part of the Reliance Group, owned by Asia’s richest man – Mukesh Ambani. It publishes print magazines like Forbes India, Firstpost India, Better Interiors, and Better Photography besides others. It owns 48 TV channels including news and entertainment besides 22 online digital outlets. CNN News and News 18 India are few flagship channels owned by Network 18. Reliance Jio Digital owned by Mukesh Ambani is currently one of the biggest mobile service network providers. He also owns a cable and satellite distribution network which caters to a global Indian audience living outside India.

  • HT Media is one of the oldest and one of the biggest media companies in India. In addition to the English language Hindustan Times and Hindi language Hindustan, the company publishes the national business newspaper, called Mint, children magazine Nandan and a social literacy magazine called Kadambini. HT Media also operates two radio stations – Fever 104 and Radio Nasha 107.2. In the digital space, HT Media through Firefly e-Ventures Ltd operates a number of business and news websites, job portal, mobile marketing website and a movie website.

  • The Times Group is India’s one of the largest media conglomerates with 45 dailies and periodicals in 3 languages and 108 editions. The company has more than 55 websites and a number of news and entertainment channels. It operates radio and digital content production along with publishing magazines and books. Times Now, ET Now and Mirror Now are few of its flagship news channels. 

  • D.B Corporation Limited publishes six daily newspapers which are Dainik Bhaskar, Divya Bhaskar Divya Marathi, DB Star, DB Post and Saurashtra Samachar as well 10 periodicals. The company also owns 94.3 MY FM radio network with presence across 7 states. It also operates 9 Digital portal and 4 mobile apps as well.

  • Prasar Bharati is India's largest public broadcasting agency. It is an autonomous body set up by an Act of Indian Parliament. The company runs the numerous channels of Doordarshan, the public service broadcaster of the country as well as DD News, the news channel and All India Radio - sole radio broadcast channel owned by the government of India.

    Further, our observation reveals that regional media players have diverse media businesses and own different media genres. The Malayala Manorama Company in Kerala has 18 print media outlets, 2 TV channels, 2 online portals and 1 radio channel. Similary Sun group is s the biggest media house in Tamil Nadu which owns 11 print outlets, 25 TV channels and 2 radio outlets and is active in several states in south India. 

Score: 3

LOW MEDIUM HIGH
If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share below 50% across the different media sectors. If within one country the major 8 owner (Top8) have an audience share between 50% and 29% across the different media sectors. If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share above 70% across the different media sectors.

 

 

Regulatory Safeguards: Cross-media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership between media types (press, TV, radio, internet). Given the diversity of thresholds or limits that exist among different countries with regard to ownership and/or control, 'high' should be assessed according to the standards of your country and in the light of the thresholds or limits imposed by domestic laws.

Why?

Although there is no definition or thresholds in cross-media ownership concentration, there is a regulation which looks into vertical concentration, in particular with the distribution networks in the broadcast sector.

Restrictions have been imposed by MIB on the licences of DTH companies and HITS and IPTV companies wherein a cap of 20 percent has been imposed on broadcasters/cable network company’s stake in a DTH company and vice versa so as to take care of the concerns relating to national security, morality and vertical monopoly in the distribution and broadcasting of television services.

However, these regulations do not seem to be effectively implemented since there are a number of media houses that own distribution networks. Essel Group for instance owns a DTH network Dish TV and the Zee Media, active in broadcast media Radio and Television. For the purposes of measuring this particular indicator, cross-media ownership concentration is a concentration of ownership between media types, print, TV, radio and internet.

Mergers and Acquisitions: There have been several mergers and acquisitions within the media companies in the last few years and no merger or acquisition has been prevented by the Competition Commission of India to date.

Consolidation and alliances

  • In 2010, Sun Network and Network18 entered into a strategic alliance to form “Sun18 Media Services”. Sun18 distributed more than 30 channels across all platforms in India via all networks including cable, DTH, IPTV and HITS.
  • In 2011, Star Den Media Services Private Limited and Zee Turner Limited formed a 50:50 joint venture called “Pro Media Enterprise” to jointly aggregate and distribute television content.
  • CCI approved the merger of Wireless Broadband Business Service (Delhi) Pvt. Ltd. (WBBS Delhi), Wireless Broadband Business Service (Kerala) Pvt. Ltd. (WBBS Kerala) and Wireless Broadband Business Service (Haryana) Pvt. Ltd. (WBBS Haryana) into Wireless Business Services Private Limited (WBSPL). 51 per cent and 49 per cent of equity shares in each of these parties are held by Qualcomm Incorporated and Bharati Airtel Limited respectively.

 Acquisitions:

  • CCI also approved the acquisition of 27.5 per cent equity shares of Living Media India Limited by IGH Holdings Private Limited in 2012. Living Media India Limited is a private company and is the holding company of India Today Group, which is involved in broadcasting through TV and radio, print media, publication and distribution of music etc. IGH is also a private limited company and is an investment company in Aditya Birla Group which has diversified business interests in various sectors including telecommunications; IT and IT enabled services etc.   
  • A notice was filed by Independent Media Trust relating to a series of inter-connected and inter-dependent acquisitions intended to acquire control over Network18 Group of companies by Reliance Industries Limited. The Commission assessed the effect of the combination on the businesses for supply of televisions channels, event management services and broadband internet services using 4G technologies and content accessible through such services. It concluded that the Combination was not likely to give rise to any appreciable adverse effect on competition and the acquisition was cleared. “The CCI did conclude that RIL (Reliance India Limited) had acquired the target companies and indirect control over Network18 and TV18   but also said that the deal does not have an adverse impact on competition, since an ISP has open access, and Network18 group properties are available on the Internet, which can be accessed by consumers from ISPs other than Infotel as well.”
  • Disney first acquired a stake in UTV for 1.5 crore in 2006 and by 2011 it had increased its stake in UTV to 50.44 percent leaving co-founder Ronnie Screwvala and three others holding only 19.82 percent stake in the company. Disney also joined hands with Sony Pictures Network India and launched a sports channel in 2015.
  • Zee acquired two big operational general entertainment channels- BIG Magic which is a comedy channel catering to the Hindi market and BIG Ganga which is a Bhojpuri channel popular in Bihar, and Jharkhand. Dish TV- Videocon D2 merger, Dish TV is a part of Essel Group along with Zee Media Corporation. The merger is at present disputed in the Delhi High Court and one of the companies involved, Nityank Infrapower, is being probed by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO). The allegations have been denied by Zee.
  • Reliance divested its 100 percent stake in its television broadcasting business and 49 per cent stake in its radio business to Subhash Chandra’s Zee Group for a value of INR19 Billion. 
  • Sony Pictures Networks India acquired Ten Sports from Zee. 
  • Zee Media Corporation acquired (Anil Ambani Group) RBNL’s radio and television business thereby acquiring 49% stake in BIG FM radio channel, while Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. would own RBNL’s TV business.

The blind spots in the legislations exist because there are no definitions of terms vertical or horizontal integration and therefore there is no control over the growth of ‘paid news’; ‘private treaty’; ‘private self-censorship’; advertorials and corporatization of the media.

In view of there being no specific definition of either media monopoly or media concentration, in its 2014 Recommendations, TRAI attempted to understand and clarify what the terms “Vertical Integration”, “Horizontal Integration” and “Cross holding control” meant.

  • “Vertical integration means a common entity, which can be a Broadcaster itself or a stakeholder having ‘control’ over the Broadcaster, “controls” a DPO in the same relevant market and vice versa.”
  • “Horizontal integration means that a common entity, which can be a DPO itself or a stakeholder having ‘control’ over the DPO, “controls” the two categories of DPOs in the relevant market”
  • “Cross-holding means vertical integration; horizontal integration; or both”.

Interestingly TRAI also made a relevant comment that the media cannot, and should not, be bracketed with general commodities and services. The market for ideas is very different from that for, say, shoes or biscuits. The media serves a higher purpose and needs separate consideration. The principles adopted in the competition law may not serve the special purpose of addressing the need for plurality of news and views. Thereby indirectly stating that media should not fall within the purview of the Act of 2002. There have been no major changes in the legislation relating to media concentration.

Regulatory Safeguard score: 43,75%

3.5 out of 8 = High Risk (43,75%)

1 = media-specific regulation/ authority

0.5= competition-related regulation/ authority

CROSS-MEDIA OWNERSHIPDescriptionYesNoNAMD

Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds, based on objective criteria, such as number of licences, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue, to prevent a high degree of cross-ownership between the different media?

This indicator aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors.

The laws in India do not define horizontal, vertical or cross-media ownership concentration and do not contain any specific thresholds based on objective criteria to measure concentration.

Generally Cross Media Ownership means a single corporate entity owning multiple media companies across different media sectors including print, radio, television etc.

0

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these thresholds and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media authority)

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.

No administrative body exists to monitor the compliance with the thresholds.

 0

Does the law grant body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: Refusal of additional licences; Blocking of a merger or acquisition; Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors; divestiture.    

 

  0

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?

The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies provided by the regulation.

There have been no instances when authorities would prevent cross-media ownership concentration.

0

Can a high degree of cross-ownership between different media be prevented via merger control/competition rules that take into account the specificities of the media sector?

For instance, cross-ownership can be prevented by competition law:

- by the mandatory intervention of a media authority in M&A cases (for instance, the obligation for the competition authority to ask the advice of the media authority);

 - by the possibility to overrule the approval of a concentration by the competition authority for reasons of media pluralism (or Public interest in general);

Even though the law does not contain media-specific provisions - it does not exclude the media sector from its scope of application

In theory, yes, a high degree of cross-media ownership concentration can be prevented via competition rules.

1

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these rules and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority).

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors via merger control/competition rules

The CCI monitors transactions which affect market competition.

1

Does the law grant the body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?

Examples of sanctioning / enforcement powers and remedies: blocking of a merger or acquisition; obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; must carry obligation to give up licences /activities in other media sectors; divestiture.

The CCI has sanctioning and enforcement powers in order to impose remedies in case of non-respect of thresholds, but the thresholds do not exist. The CCI can take up issues and pass orders based on the market conditions. The sanctioning powers include blocking of a merger or acquisition, however CCI operates in a different sphere (not specific to media) and its decisions are largely ex-post. In respect of Combinations certain thresholds are provided for, above which a notice has to be filed with the CCI. By Government notification of March,2016, these thresholds were enhanced. It is neither a body that grants licences/ permissions nor is it a regulatory body.

1

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?

The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies of the regulation

CCI has not blocked any merger or acquisition based on a transaction of a media company being adverse to competition and MIB has not as yet refused to grant licences on ground of media concentration.

0.5

Total

3.5

Legal Assessment (MOM) India 2019 by Nisha Bhambhani Contextualisation for the Media Ownership Monitor - India 2019
Gudielines for obtaining license for providing Direct-To-Home (DTH) broadcasting service Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Competition Issues in Television and Broadcasting 2013 Accessed on 27 May, 2019
How Reliance Industries acquired Network18: A detailed timeline of events, Medianama Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Top six media and entertainment deals of 2016, Economic Times Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Introduction to Competition Law Accessed on 27 May, 2019

Ownership Transparency

Result: Medium Risk

This indicator assesses the transparency of data about the political affiliations of media owners as ownership transparency is a crucial precondition to enforce media pluralism.

Why?

There is no obligation for media companies to disclose their ownership structures on their respective websites or printed publications. However, there are strict guidelines for politicians to disclose their businesses, share holdings in companies or ownership of valuable assets and property. The Election Commission of India requires a mandatory filing of affidavits by all candidates where they are supposed to disclose all financial information, criminal background if any and educational background.

Moreover, there is no mandate in India that prohibits political actors from holding a political office and owning a media outlet. Though, politicians and the general public alike have to register their media companies with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Most of the data related to ownership was obtained through the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

With the help of affidavits downloaded from the election commission and media reports, we were able to find political affiliations of media owners to understand ownership transparency in India.

The MOM team also invited media owners to partake in an exercise of transparency by requesting for information. During the research period of November–May, MOM investigated a sample of 39 media companies which comprises of 23 T.V channels, 25 print media outlets, 9 online outlets and 1 radio station adding to 58 total outlets.

  • Active Transparency means companies/channel informs proactively and comprehensively about its ownership, data, constantly updated and easily verifiable.
  • Passive Transparency means that upon request, ownership data is easily available from the company/from a channel.  Out of total 58 outlets which were chosen as MOM sample, no media company responded to our queries.
  • Data publicly available means ownership data is easily available from other sources, e. g. public registries.  
  • Data unavailable means ownership data is not publicly available; company/channel denies the release of information or does not respond; no public record exists. 1.73% of the entire sample was ranked as Data unavailable. The data was not available for scroll.com as the company is registered in the United States.
  • MOM Information Requests were sent out by registered mail and email and were followed up with further emails during the course of the research. However, only 1 company responded to our request stating that the financial details can be shared only upon signing of a non-disclosure agreement.
  • Out of MOM sample, data for 57 outlets is publicly available which represent 98.27% of our sample. Information for only one online media outlet is not publicly available as the company is registered in the U.S.A. this shows high ownership transparency in India.

How do you assess the transparency and accessibility of data about the media ownership

Active Transparency –  0%

Passive Transparency – 0%

Data Publicly Available – 98.27%

Data Unavailable – 1.73%

Active Disguise - 0%

LOW MEDIUM HIGH 
Data on media owners as well as  their political affiliations is publicly available and transparent.  (Active transparency) code  If that applies to > 75% of the sample. 

Data on media owners as well as their political affiliations are disclosed based on investigation of journalists and media activists or upon request. (Passive transparency, publicly available) code if that applies to > 50% of the sample. Data on political affiliation of media owners are not easily accessible by public and Investigative journalists or activists are not successful in disclosing these data. (Data Unavailable, Active Disguise) code if data is available for < 50% of the sample.

 

 

Legal Assessment (MOM) India 2019, by Nisha Bhambhani Contextualisation for Media Ownership Monitor - India 2019

Regulatory Safeguards: Ownership Transparency

Result: Low Risk

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of transparency and disclosure provisions with regard to media ownership and/or control.

Why?

All private companies are required to register with the Registrar of Companies (ROC) under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs which administers the Companies Act of 2013. The Act requires that every company prepare an annual return in a prescribed format disclosing its shares, debentures, other securities and shareholding pattern; details, as may be prescribed, in respect of shares held by or on behalf of the Foreign Institutional Investors indicating their names, addresses, countries of incorporation, registration and percentage of shareholding held by them; Similarly, whenever there is a change in the number of shares held by promoters and top ten shareholders the company is required to provide the new details within fifteen days of such change; the Act also requires a company to file financial statements which give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the company or companies, comply with the accounting standards. The ROC permits the general public to access this information on payment of a stipulated fee. Furthermore, the annual reports of all companies can also be accessed by the public on the site of the MCA.

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is another entity which requires disclosures from listed companies in respect to ownership etc. under the SEBI Continuous Disclosure Requirements for Listed Entities.  The Regulations of 2015 require that when agreements such as joint ventures are entered into, the names of parties, shareholding, whether the parties are related to the promoter /promoter group companies etc. must be disclosed. Annual reports are required to be filed with the exchanges as well. A majority of Indian listed entities continue to be promoter driven, with significant shareholding held by promoter/promoter group. Accordingly, checks and balances on interactions and relationships between listed entities and the promoters/significant shareholders are crucial for good governance. Therefore, 2018 Amendments focus on approval and disclosure of related party transactions including the materiality thresholds as well as remuneration policy for executive / non-executive directors. The amendment requires   the “Related Party Disclosure” in the annual report, disclosures of transactions of the listed entity with any person or entity belonging to the promoter or promoter group which hold(s) 10% or more shareholding in the listed entity. This disclosure should also be in the format prescribed in the relevant accounting standards for annual results.

The definition of “related party” has been modified to include any person or entity belonging to the promoter or promoter group of the listed entity and holding 20% or more shareholding in the listed entity.

More specifically, with regard to electronic media, The Uplinking Guidelines, issued by MIB in 2011, also require all companies that uplink their channels to make full disclosure, at the time of application, of Shareholders Agreements, Loan Agreements and such other Agreements that are finalized or are proposed to be entered into. Any subsequent changes in these have to be disclosed to the MIB within 15 days of any changes having a bearing on the foregoing Agreements. The companies who uplink and /or downlink also have to file their audited returns annually and to give intimation to MIB if there is a change in the directorship, key executives or foreign direct investment in the company, within 15 days of such a change taking place.

As far is Print media is concerned it is required to disclose its ownership patterns, including name of owner, partners and shareholding pattern more than one percent of the total capital. However, the shareholders are not asked to disclose the percentage they own and whether there is any relationship between the various shareholders.

Policy Guidelines relating to FM Radio require that an applicant has to disclose the (i) names of Directors with evidence of their commercial or managerial competence; (ii)directorship or other executive positions held by the Directors in other companies/organizations with details of such companies/organizations with documentary evidence to support their claim; (iii)names of the key executives, i.e. Chief Executive Officer, and Heads of Finance, Marketing and Creative Departments, if any in position, with evidence of their professional qualifications and managerial competence.

The reporting requirements for public companies are more stringent as compared to the reporting requirements for private limited companies in so far as disclosures are concerned. There is no mandatory requirement to disclose the political affiliation of the owners or their family members. However, in the Policy Guidelines of FM Radio Broadcasting Services, 2011, a political party is disqualified from applying for a permission to operate a channel.

Regulatory Safeguards Score: 90%

4.5 out of 5 = 90%

Transparency ProvisionsDescriptionYes NoNAMD

Does the national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to publish their ownership structures on their website or in records/documents that are accessible to the public?

The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for transparency towards the citizens, the users and the public in general.    

1

Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to report (changes in) ownership structures to public authorities (such as the media authority)?

The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for accountability and transparency towards public authorities.

1

Is there an obligation by national law to disclose relevant information after every change in ownership structure?

This question aims at assessing if the law provides rules on the public availability of accurate and up-to-date data on media ownership. This is a condition for an effective transparency.  
 

1

Are there any sanctions in case of non-respect of disclosure obligations?

This question aims at assessing if the law on media ownership transparency can be enforced through the application of sanctions. 

  

1  

 

 

Do the obligations ensure that the public knows which legal or natural person effectively owns or controls the media company?

This question aim at assessing the effectiveness of the laws that deal with media ownership transparency and if they succeed in disclosing the real owners of the media outlets.

0.5

Total

4.5

Regulation related to Annual return Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Guidelines for obtaining data from MCA-21 by researchers Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Annual Report, Ministry of Corporate Affairs 2017-2018 Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Continuous Disclosure Requirements for Listed Entities-SEBI Accessed on 27 May, 2019
SEBI Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements (Amendment) Regulations, 2018 Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Policy Guidelines for downlinking all Satellite Television Channels Accessed on 27 May, 2019
FORM-IV, Statement about ownership and other particulars about newspaper Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Five reasons why media monopolies flourish in India-Scroll Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Legal Assessment (MOM) India 2019 by Nisha Bhambhani Contextualisation for Media Ownership Monitor - India 2019

(Political) Control Over Media Outlets and Distribution Networks

Result: Medium to High Risk

This indicator assesses the risk of political affiliations and control over media and distribution networks. It also assesses the level of discrimination by politically affiliated media distribution networks. Discriminatory actions would for example include unfavorable pricing and posing barriers to media accessing the distribution channel. Political Affiliations means that the media outlet or company belongs to a party, a partisan group, a party leader or a clearly partisan person.

Why?

There are no regulatory safeguards against political control over media and distribution networks ownership in India. The Indian laws do not restrict political ownership in television or print media with the exception of radio, where political parties or members thereof do not qualify to apply for a license to operate a radio station. However, radio is barred from broadcasting independent news. There is no mandatory requirement to disclose political affiliations of the owners or of their family members.

Political Ownership in Television, Print and Online:

The Indian media market reflects the linguistic diversity of the country. The Indian media market can be divided into two categories the national and regional. The national media are mostly in Hindi and English languages because these are seen as lingua franca, spoken in more than 1 state or across all states. The regional or language markets are mostly state-specific, Malayalam in Kerala, Tamil in Tamil Nadu, Kannada in Karnataka etc. So the Indian media market is comprised of multiple linguistic markets.

The print market in India publishes dailies in many languages but the prominent languages are: Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, English, Malayalam, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali, Oriya, Kannada, Punjabi, Assamese and Urdu. In order to reflect the complexity of the market MOM has included publications with the highest reach across different languages including Hindi (8 outlets), Tamil (3 outlets), Marathi (2), Malayalam (2), Telugu (1), Gujarati (1), Bengali (1), English (6).

The regional print markets have shown to be highly concentrated and the leading media outlets in the regions are owned by individuals with clear political affiliations. So, in the Hindi market, Dainik Jagran and Hindustan capture at least 43.87% of audience share. The outlets are owned by former members of parliament, Mahendra Mohan Gupta and Shobhana Bhartia respectively. In Tamil language market Sun Group with a single outlet (Dinakaran) reaches an audience share of 22.86%. The group is active in TV, radio, print and distribution network. Sun Group is owned by Kalanithi Maran, who is the son of the former Union Minister of India Murasoli Maran and grand nephew of former Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi. His younger brother Dayanidhi Maran was also a former minister. Daily Sakal & Lokmat together capture 58% of audience share in the Marathi language market. Both newspapers are owned by members of the parliament (Lower and Upper house) Supriya Sule and Vijay Darda.

The television media outlets too were seen to have political affiliations. Though, the audience share for the television sector was not available, the political affiliations in this sector are as follows: Asia Net News & Suvarna News are owned by Asia Net News Private Limited, which is owned by Rajeev Chandrasekhar who is Member of Parliament (Upper House). Subhash Chandra, Rajya Sabha, MP is the Chairman of Essel Group which owns Zee News. Baijayant Jay Panda, Co-owner-Odisha TV, is the National Vice President and Spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, CMD, News Live, is the wife of Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma who is currently the Minister in State Government of Assam and has held important portfolios (both state and cabinet) as Minister for Finance, Health & Family Welfare, PWD, Transformation & Development (Assam).   Out of the total 58 investigated media outlets, 13 are owned by individuals with political affiliations. These are mostly leading media houses in the country that are active across different media platforms and some own distribution networks.

Among television and radio, the government owned Doordarshan (DD News) and All India Radio have the highest reach. All India radio is the only news service provider in the radio segment as private radio stations do not disseminate news. Political affiliation does not necessarily always translate into political bias, but indicates a risk of political control.

Political affiliations of media owners:

  • Dr. Subhash Chandra (Zee News) Chairman of Essel Group which is the parent company of Zee Media Corporation is an Indian Billionaire who was elected as a Member of Parliament (Upper House) in 2016 from Bhartiya Janta Party.
  • Shobhana Bhartia (Hindustan Times & Hindustan), Chairperson and Owner of HT Media Limited, was a Member of Parliament from 2006-2012 from Indian National Congress.
  • Baijayant Jay Panda, (Odisha TV) is the National Vice President and Spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He has been a four-time Member of Parliament of India. He was elected to his second term (2014 – 2019) in the Lower House from Kendrapara Constituency, Odisha. Earlier, Jay Panda had been elected to the Lower House in May 2009 as well as twice earlier to the Upper House in 2000 and 2006, also from the State of Odisha.
  • Supriya Sule (Daily Sakal), Board member of Daily Sakal, is also the Member of Parliament and daughter of National Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar. Sharad Pawar is also a Member of Parliament in Lower House.
  • Riniki Bhuyan Sarma (News Live), Chairman & Managing Director is the wife of Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma who is currently a Minister in State Government of Assam and has held important portfolios (both state and cabinet) as Minister for Finance, Health & Family Welfare, PWD, Transformation & Development (Assam).
  • Ashwini Kumar Chopra (Punjab Kesari, Delhi) is the nephew of Vijay Kumar Chopra, Owner of The Hind Samachar Limited. Ashwini Kumar Chopra runs the Delhi edition of Punjab Kesari. He got elected to 16th Lok Sabha from Karnal as a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
  • Mahendra Mohan Gupta, owner of Dainik Jagran Group is a former Member of Parliament was elected in 2006 sent to the upper house by the Samajwadi Party (Regional Political Party from the state of Uttar Pradesh).
  • M. P. Veerendra Kumar (Mathrubhumi) is an Indian politician, writer and journalist, who was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha. He is a member of the Janata Dal political party and the president of Kerala state unit of the party.  He is the Chairman and Managing director of the Malayalam daily newspaper Mathrubhumi. 
  • Vijay Darda (Lokmat), Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the Marathi newspaper Lokmat. He has been Member of the Parliament of India representing Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha since 1998, having been elected for three consecutive terms into the upper house of the Indian Parliament.
  • Kalanithi Maran (Dinakaran), owner Sun Group is the son of the former Union Minister of India Murasoli Maran and grand nephew of former Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi. His younger brother Dayanidhi Maran was also a former minister.
  • Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Asia Net News, Suvarna News), owner of Asia Net News network is a Member of Parliament, representing the State of Karnataka, serving his 3rd term in the Rajya Sabha or Council of States which is the Upper House of the Parliament of India. He entered politics in 2006 and has entered into his third term as a Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MP. For the previous two terms, he was an independent member. 
LOWMEDIUMHIGH
POLITICIAN AND MEDIA OUTLETS
What is the share of TV / Radio / online / Print media owns by politically affiliated entities? 
The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.     The media having <50% - >30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.     The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.

 

Political control over media distribution networks

The overall level of (political) control over media outlets and distribution networks was assessed as a medium risk to media pluralism. A leading distribution network is defined as a network covering more than 15% of the national market.

Result: MEDIUM RISK

Why?

The distribution of television news is mainly provided by two means: Cable network and DTH. The leading cable and DTH provides are Dish TV, Siti Cable, Airtel, Videocon-D2H, Tata Sky, DD Freedish and others. There is no market data to determine the market share of each of these companies. However, among the listed service providers Dish TV, Siti Cable, Videocon-D2H and DD Freedish are owned by individuals or entities with political affiliations. Zee is a great example which owns Dish TV, the Direct-To-Home (DTH) and Siti Cable (Cable Network) distribution platforms. Zee as mentioned earlier has political affiliation wherein the Chairman of the group, Dr. Subhash Chandra is a member of the parliament. Furthermore, Dish TV and Videocon-D2h have attempted a merger in 2016, which is currently disputed at the Delhi High Court, the families of both are related by marriage. This gives Zee a huge advantage of controlling both content and distribution.

A similar example of political control can be observed with Sun Group which publishes, Dinakaran a Tamil newspaper; it also has 67 FM radio stations, 33 TV Channels across four South Indian languages Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Sun Direct is their DTH service provider established in 2008. The group claims that Sun direct is the fourth largest DTH service provider in India. The group also owns cable distribution company Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV).

Another interesting case of a distribution company using distribution for arbitrary ends is the Arasu cable company owned by the Tamil Nadu Government. It is the only state government cable company that can run cable distribution.

Thus, on the basis of the above, the risk of political control over distribution networks in television sector is measured as medium.

Restrictions have been imposed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the licences of DTH companies and HITS and IPTV companies wherein a cap of 20 percent has been imposed on broadcasters/cable network company’s stake in a DTH company and vice versa so as to take care of the concerns relating to national security, morality and vertical monopoly in the distribution and broadcasting of television services. However, these regulations do not seem to be effectively implemented since there are a number of media houses that own distribution networks as illustrated above.

News in the radio segment is controlled both in terms of content and distribution by the Indian Government, although through an autonomous body called Prasar Bharati. Hence, the risk of political control over distribution networks in radio is high.

The distribution network for print publications consists of both companies and individual vendors. The newspapers are distributed by various agencies across the country. The transportation is normally carried out through private contract carriers within the local area, public transport in longer distances and through couriers in other cases. The newspaper distributors/agencies have the rights to distribute the newspaper in their area. The circulation is normally carried out through salesmen appointed and salaried by the distributors, who in turn pass it on to hawkers. Hawkers, vendors and book stall owners are the last link of the supply chain before newspaper reaches the readers. The distribution networks in this sector are diverse and no risks of political control have been identified.

The leading Internet Service providers in India are government owned MTNL and BSNL, Reliance Jio, Vodafone-Idea and Bharati Airtel. Reliance Jio is the biggest Internet Service provider, owned by Mukesh Ambani. Mukesh Ambani also owns Network 18 which runs various television channels including one English and one Hindi news channel. Therefore, the risks of political control in distribution networks in internet sector are measured as medium.

LOWMEDIUMHIGH
How would you assess the conduct of the leading distribution networks for print media? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.     At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.     All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.    
How would you assess the conduct of the leading radio distribution networks? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.     At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.     All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.    
How would you assess the conduct of the leading television distribution networks? 
Leading distribution, are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions. At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.  All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions. 
How would you assess the conduct of the leading Internet distribution network? 
Leading distribution, are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions. All the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and have a record of repeated discriminatory actions.

Legal Assessment (MOM) India 2019 by Nisha Bhambhani Contextualisation for Media Ownership Monitor - India 2019

(Political) Control Over Media Funding

Result: High Risk

This indicator assesses the influence of the state on the functioning of the media market, focusing particularly on the risk of discrimination in the distribution of state advertisements. The discrimination can be reflected in favouritism towards political parties or affiliates of political parties in the government, or in penalisation of media criticising the government. State advertising should be understood as any advertising paid by governments (national, regional, local) and state-owned institutions and companies.

Why?

The overall, non-availability of data or lack of transparency to substantiate the distribution of state advertising in the market or its regulatory requirements creates a HIGH RISK over the influence of state funding in the media market.

There is no robust mechanism to ensure that state advertising is fairly distributed based on circulation figures in the print media. However, the Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP) is the nodal agency to undertake multi-media advertising and publicity for various Ministries and Departments of Government of India. Some of the Autonomous Bodies also route their advertisements through DAVP. As a service agency, it endeavours to communicate at grass roots level on behalf of various Central Government Ministries. In 2018-2019, Government of India through DAVP has spent 76.81 Million USD across all states including union territories on advertisements in print media. In our sample, there are 6 media houses which have political affiliations and have received a combined of 12.85 million USD worth of advertisements which is 9.87% of the total advertisements highlighting high concentration within top 6 media outlets.

In the television sector, General Entertainment Category (GEC) remains the most preferred genre of TV viewers in India with 54% of audience share. News has a 7% viewership amongst all genres. Hence, the advertisement spent is primarily seen in general entertainment channels. As per the KPMG-FICCI entertainment and media report, 2018, 22% of the advertisement revenues are earned by Hindi news, Hindi regional news, Tamil news, Bangla news and Telugu news channels. Notably the central government allocates more advertisements to Hindi language newspapers, almost 45% of the total as compared to other publications.

The data for allocation of funds to television and radio is not available. However, fund allocation to states for the year 2018 for electronic media shows the public service broadcaster –Doordarshan was allocated USD 11.95 million followed by Delhi which is USD 3.90 million, followed by Maharashtra at USD 3.29 million. Further, the advertisements given by the state departments to the news agencies is unknown.

LOWMEDIUMHIGH
Is the state advertising distributed to media proportionately to their audience share? No Data
State advertising is distributed to the media relatively proportionately to the audience shares of media. State advertising is distributed disproportionately (in terms of audience share) to the media.State advertising is distributed exclusively to few media outlets, which do not cover al major media outlets in the country. 
How would you assess the rules of distribution of state advertising?    
State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on transparent rules.     State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on a set of rules but it is unclear whether they are transparent.     There are no rules regarding distribution of state advertising to media outlets or these.   
IMPORTANCE OF STATE ADVERTISING    

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall TV advertising market? 

VALUE: No Data

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall market.    Share of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall market.     Share of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market.

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall Radio advertising market? 

VALUE: No Data

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall market.Share of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall market.  Share of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market.

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall Newspaper advertising market? 

VALUE:

No Data, according to IBEF report 2018, India’s advertising market was at USD 9.44 billion whereas, central government has spent USD 76.81 million which is less than 5% of the overall market. We do not have data on state government advertising

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall market.Share of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall market.  Share of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market.

DAVP commitment to media with Political affiliation Accessed on 27 May,2019

Regulatory Safeguards: Net neutrality

Result: MEDIUM RISK

Network neutrality is the principle that all data on networks should be treated equally by not discriminating or charging differently in terms of users, content, sites or applications. Protecting net neutrality is essential to safeguarding media diversity because it guarantees equal ability to access and disseminate information, opinions, perspectives, etc. online, which is essential to media diversity. This indicator aims to capture the landscape of legal regulation of net neutrality as well as the specific regulatory mechanisms that address net neutrality.

Why?

In India there is no specific legislation, Statutes or Acts governing Net Neutrality. However, the Department of Telecommunication approved a regulatory framework on Net Neutrality on the 31st July, 2018 in which it stated that the ‘Government is committed to the fundamental principles and concepts of Net Neutrality i.e. keep the Internet accessible and available to all without discrimination.’

In fact, on the 3rd March, 2016, DoT requested TRAI to provide its recommendations on the subject of net neutrality. Subsequently, TRAI provided to DoT its Recommendations on 'Net Neutrality' dated 2nd November, 2017, which were accepted by DoT when it issued its policy on Net Neutrality. DoT amended licence rules by incorporating clauses related to net neutrality which bars service providers from discriminating against internet content and services by blocking, throttling or granting preferential higher speeds. On the 8th February, 2016, TRAI released its regulations "Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services, Regulations, 2016" which, inter alia, prohibited any service provider from offering or charging discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content. All this happened against a background of Facebook launching Free Basics in partnership with Reliance media in 2015. The service which was packaged as philanthropy by Facebook, but criticized by a number of Indian tech journalists and entrepreneurs as discriminatory giving too much power to Facebook.  Airtel Zero was also not permitted as Airtel Zero was a scheme attempting differential pricing by TSPs.

In India, issues of licensing and allocation of spectrum are dealt with by DoT while regulatory aspects are dealt with by TRAI. Therefore, at present the Regulations of TRAI and the Policy of DoT essentially cover the concept of Net Neutrality. TRAI is an independent regulator in the telecom sector, which mainly regulates TSPs and their licensing conditions, etc. The various authorities will probably legislate in the near future with respect on Net Neutrality taking into account the interests of the various stakeholders.

DoT has also made it clear that violation of the condition of net neutrality will be considered a violation of the licence conditions issued to telecommunications operators. At present though the laws regulating Net Neutrality appear to be sufficient in view of the fact that the concept is relatively new to India.

However, the policies of Net Neutrality may need modifications in the future if the legislations/regulations do not result in the existence of multiple companies/players in the market particularly in the telecom and broadcasting sector. If the number of telecom / broadcasting companies operating in the market shrinks, in that eventuality, with monopolies and concentration on the rise, net neutrality will not endure.

Regulatory Safeguard Score: 68.18%

7.5 out of 11 = 68.18%

Transparency ProvisionsDescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does national law address net neutrality directly or indirectly?This question aims to determine whether net neutrality is regulated by domestic law in any way.1
Does national law contain norms that prohibit blocking of websites or content online?This question determines the degree to which a country’s net neutrality norms prevent blocking, one of the key components of a robust net neutrality framework1
Does national law contain norms that prohibit throttling of services or content provided online?This question determines the degree to which a country’s net neutrality norms prevent throttling, one of the key components of a robust net neutrality framework  1
Does national law contain norms that prohibit zero-rating and/or paid prioritiszation?This question determines the degree to which a country’s net neutrality norms prevent zero-rating (of which paid prioritiszation is a common form), one of the key components of a robust net neutrality framework 1
Where net neutrality is protected by law, does the legal framework recognize any exceptions, e.g. for reasonable network management?This question establishes when reasonable limits are placed on net neutrality protections versus other limits that may undermine its effectiveness.1
Norms that prohibit or limit zero-rating are successfully implemented: Paid prioritisation does not take place.This question aims to flesh out the extent to which paid prioritisation occurs in practice despite its prohibition in law; a number of countries with ostensibly strong zero-rating protections experience this phenomenon. This indicator may shed light on the degree of difference between the law and practices on the ground0
Norms that prohibit or limit zero-rating are successfully implemented: No other forms of zero-rating take place.Same as above0
Norms are successfully implemented: Blocking and/or throttling do not take place.This question seeks to determine how the legal framework in place to protect net neutrality operates in practice with respect to blocking and throttling 0
Are there regulatory or other entities charged with monitoring and enforcing net neutrality protections?This question highlights whether there are authorities charged with enforcing net neutrality protections 1
Have sanctions been imposed for violations of net neutrality protections where these exist?This question may illustrate the extent to which violations of net neutrality norms are taken seriously as a matter of rule of law and political will0.5
Are the enforcement mechanisms in place to identify and respond to net neutrality violations viewed as effective?This question shows the extent to which net neutrality norms actually achieve their goals 0.5

Total

7.5

Legal Assessment (MOM) India, 2019 by Nisha Bhambhani Contextualisation for Media Ownership Monitor - India 2019
Recommendation on Net Neutrality- TRAI Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Article on Net Neutrality Accessed on 27 May, 2019
Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016 Accessed on 27 May,2019

  • Project by
    Logo of Data leads
  •  
    Reporters without borders
  • Funded by
    BMZ