Photo: Media Ownership Monitor India by Reporters without Borders (RSF) and DataLEADS
Photo: Media Ownership Monitor India by Reporters without Borders (RSF) and DataLEADS

Who owns India’s media?

We need more studies on media ownership in Southasia.

Chettria Patrakar was pleased to come across the Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) for India, recently published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in collaboration with Delhi-based DataLEADS. Compared to RSF's marquee projects like the annual World Press Freedom index – an exercise that can be accused of oversimplification in its ranking of countries by 'media freedom' – the MOM projects offer a more granular analysis of media, with its focus on ownership structure and audience share. So, what does this study tell us about the Indian media?

The key takeaway is that despite its sheer scale – India's media market is one of the largest in the world – "a small number of companies and conglomerates dominate the country's media landscape." This domination of large players is true in both ownership and audience share. In print media, for instance, between two and four newspapers have captured over 70 percent of the readership in English, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Telugu, Punjabi and Gujarati language markets. Media monopoly is most prevalent in regional and vernacular media, where ownership is often concentrated in the hands of one or two players per region, many of whom have direct political involvement. The lack of plurality is most absolute in radio: only the state-owned All India Radio has the exclusive rights to produce news.

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