Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is MOM?
The “Media Ownership Monitor” (MOM) has been developed as a mapping tool in order to create a publicly available, continuously updated database that lists owners of all relevant mass media outlets - press, radio, television and online media.
MOM aims to shed light on the risks to media pluralism caused by media ownership concentration (for more information: Methodology. In order to grasp the national characteristics and detect risk-enhancing or risk-reducing factors for media concentration, MOM also qualitatively assesses the market conditions and legal environment.
2. Who is behind MOM?
MOM has been proposed and launched by Reporter ohne Grenzen e. V. – the German section of the international human rights organization Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), that aims to defend freedom of the press and the right to inform and be informed anywhere in the world.
In 2019, the project was spun-off to the Global Media Registry (GMR), an independent, non-for profit social enterprise registered under German law.
In each country, MOM is implemented in cooperation with a local partner organization. In India, RSF worked with DataLEADS. The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).
3. Where can I download this report?
The website affords a PDF download containing all website content. The PDF is automatically generated and thus updated on a daily base. It exists for all website languages. In order to generate the PDF, scroll down to the website footer, choose your preferred language and “Download complete website as PDF”.
4. Why is transparency of media ownership important?
Media pluralism is a key aspect of democratic societies as free, independent, and diverse media reflect divergent viewpoints and allow criticism of people in power. Risks to diversity of ideas are caused by media market concentration, when only a few players exert dominant influence on public opinion and raise entrance barriers for other players and perspectives (media ownership concentration). The biggest obstacle to fight it is lack of transparency of media ownership: How can people evaluate the reliability of information, if they don´t know who provides it? How can journalists work properly, if they don´t know who controls the company they work for? And how can media authorities address excessive media concentration, if they don´t know who is behind the media´s steering wheel?
MOM thus aims to create transparency and to answer the question “who eventually controls media content?” in order to raise public awareness, to create a fact base for advocacy to hold political and economic players accountable for the existing conditions.
As we consider ownership transparency as a crucial precondition to enforce media pluralism, we document the openness of media companies/outlets to provide information on their ownership structure. Considering their answers, we distinguish different levels of transparency – which is indicated for each media outlet and media company on their profile.
Media owner’s motivation to remain hidden or even actively disguise their investments can vary from legitimate to illegal and be rooted in personal, legal or business-related reasons – or a mix thereof, in extreme cases even including criminal offenses like tax evasion or breaches of anti-trust laws.
Some of those reasons include the following:
- In several countries, media ownership is restricted by law in order to avoid concentration. So, if one individual wants to extend his or her media empire beyond these limits, proxy owners and/or shell companies registered abroad, even off-shore, are frequently being used.
- Sometimes, media owners receive personal threats or face other dangers either originating from governments or competing businesses and therefore decide to remain unknown to protect themselves.
- In many cases, media ownership is intertwined with undue political and / or economic interests, even more so if individuals involved hold public office and do not want to disclose such a conflict of interests.
- In rare cases, the disguise of media ownership happens unintentionally because over time and through mergers and acquisitions, corporate structures become so complex that the original beneficial owner is difficult to identify.
- Last but not least, there are ‘normal’ – i. e. non-media-related reasons for owners to hide, such as tax avoidance.
5. What kind of concentration regulation does MOM suggest?
MOM doesn’t make normative statements – it does not suggest how to regulate media ownership. Which form of media concentration regulation can work, depends on the country context, the existing legal and market conditions and the ownership landscape.
MOM provides a transparency tool to enforce a democratic discussion on that issue as well as good governance: decisions are likely to be of higher quality and able to better reflect the needs and wishes of the people if they have access to adequate information and broad consultations, with views and opinions freely shared.
6. How is data collected and validated?
Preferably, official data sources, and / or sources with a high level of reliability and trust are used. Whenever not publicly available, information was directly requested of media companies, regulatory bodies, and research agencies. All sources are thoroughly documented and archived. Further information is available upon request at dataLEADS. Audience data for print media was obtained from IRS (Indian Readership Survey, 2017).
Audience data for TV and Radio was not available. BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) was contacted for the audience share; however, the same was not provided.
Information on ownership structures and shareholders of media companies and related individual owners were obtained from the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA). The corporate affairs database is accessible online for a fee of INR 100 (USD 1.4) for companies and INR 50 (USD 0.72) for Limited Liability Partnerships. The documents used for the data were primarily the forms of MGT-7, AOC-4, List of shareholders, Directors report and Annual Reports. Certified copies of companies revealing information on shareholder structures and board of directors were purchased from the MCA website and archived in MOM Library.
MOM also sent information requests to all investigated media companies by courier and email in January/February 2019. In order to guarantee and verify the objective evaluation, MOM worked with an advisory group that commented and consulted throughout the research process. It was composed of national specialists / academics with a substantial knowledge and experience in the media and communications fields in India.
7. How is “most relevant media” defined?
The main question is: which media outlets influence the opinion-forming process? In order to scan all relevant media, we included all media types (Print, Radio, TV, Online).
The media were selected according to the following criteria:
- MOM focused mostly on media with the highest reach, measured by audience share. Basis for selection was audience research data for the most recent period available provided by the IRS (Indian Readership Survey) of 2017 for Print.
- The news worthiness and opinion content. The study focuses on general information with a national focus. As such, media with specific thematic focus (music, sport), social networks, search engines and advertisement were excluded.
- The selection based on these criteria initially consisted of 23 Television stations, 25 Print outlets, 9 Online outlets and 1 Radio station. Shedding light on these most relevant media outlets already allows revealing tendencies in media concentration. More media outlets will be added – if they prove to be relevant in terms of their owner or of their influence on public opinion (read more - “How are media outlets selected?”).
8. How are the media outlets selected?
Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC), publishes the weekly impressions for top 5 Television broadcasters in news genre across 10 language markets (Hindi, English, Marathi, Telugu, Bangla, Kannada, Oriya, Assamese, Malayalam, Tamil) on its website. However, they reserve all rights on the data and communicated to the MOM team that the data cannot be used in any form without their prior approval which they didn’t provide after numerous talk and meetings.
TV stations were selected based on the data from BARC website listing weekly viewership for the week 4 of 2019 for the news genre in 10 language markets. The numbers were used to calculate and understand the viewership patterns of different linguistic markets. 23 outlets were shortlisted that would reflect reach and linguistic diversity of the market. The sample includes outlets in Assamese (1), Hindi (6), Marathi (1), Telugu (2), Bangla (1), Kannada (3), Oriya (1), Malayalam (1), Tamil (1) and English (6).
The expert opinion of the advisory group validated the sample. Moreover, the weekly impressions available on the BARC website were observed for a period of 3 months by the team to reach to the sample of 23.
25 Print outlets were selected from both national and regional (dailies) print media publications with relevant informative content. The print market in India is divided into multiple languages dominated by Hindi (45.45%), Tamil (8.58%), Marathi (7.98%), English (6.11%), Malayalam (5.97%), Telugu (5.75%), Gujarati (5.09%), Bengali (4.93%) and our sample of print media includes publications in all the mentioned languages based on reach: 8 outlets in Hindi, 3 outlets in Tamil, 2 outlets in Marathi, 2 outlets in Malayalam, 1 outlet in Telugu, 2 outlets in Gujarati, 1 outlet in Bengali and 6 outlets in English.
The audience data for Print sector was taken from the Indian Readership Survey (IRS, 2017). IRS captures data on a continuous basis via a face-to-face Computer Aided Personal Interview (CAPI) device. The entire study is conducted using Dual Screen CAPI methodology. Household data is collected by interviewing the householder. Information in the household section is focused on all household details from household composition, durables owned, household items purchased and other key demographic variables. Individual data is collected from a systematic randomly selected person who is 12 years or older and stays in the household. The individual questionnaire is mainly focused on capturing readership of publications, television viewing, radio listening, mobile usage, internet usage, cinema viewing habits, and personal usage of selected products. IRS uses a multi-stage stratified random sampling method. Each reporting unit meets a reporting standard designed to minimise the margin of error, thus ensuring highest levels of accuracy in data.
IRS: Coverage: 28 States and 4 Union Territories, 91 Individual Districts, 502 Districts are reported as 101 District Clusters, Sample Size: 330,000 (IRS 2017).
12 Print outlets were selected which cover national and regional, daily and weekly print media publications with relevant informative content. The print market in Sri Lanka is divided into three linguistic markets: Sinhala (79%), Tamil (14%), and English (7%). Our sample of print media includes publications in all three languages based on reach: 6 outlets in Sinhala, 4 in Tamil and 2 in English. Most publications have daily and Sunday editions – the latter are the most read (46,3%), whereas dailies are read by 8.9% of readers.
1 Radio station, All India Radio was selected as it is the only radio channel which disseminates news. Therefore, our sample has only 1 radio station.
The greatest challenge for MOM was the selection of internet media. There is no audience data on online media in India. The research agencies currently operating in India don’t have data on online audience, only information on social media use. Most of the newspapers and television broadcasters have presence in Facebook and Twitter. Our advisory group and internal research team prepared a list of online news media outlets.
Our preselected online media are based on sources such as: Alexa, Facebook and Twitter followers of news websites. Alexa’s free ranking includes top 50 most popular websites regardless of content type. Apart from this we also checked the Facebook and Twitter followers for most of the online news websites (standalone as well as websites of leading newspapers in India). MOM sample of online media includes 9 media outlets.
9. Why India?
India ranks 140th (out of 180 countries) in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters without Borders, which positions nations according to indicators such as media independence, self-censorship, rule of law, transparency, and abuses.
India has one of the largest and most diverse media landscapes. With a fast-paced development and growth practically in all sectors including media, the ownership and regulation of the media sector presents an interesting set of challenges and opportunities to be studied.
Lastly, a strong local partner organisation, such as dataLEADS, is one of RSF’s most relevant selection criteria as it presents the basis for a successful implementation.
10. Does the MOM only exist for India?
MOM was developed as a generic methodology that can be universally applied – and potentially will be. Notwithstanding that media concentration trends are observable worldwide; implementation and analysis will first take place in developing countries. MOM has been implemented in around 20 countries over the course of three years. All country projects can be found on the global website.
11. What are the main limitations of the study?
- No economic data: Market concentration based on market share could not be calculated for any of the media sectors since financial statements were not always available or were outlet specific, i.e. had general revenues from other businesses.
- Official audience measurement data is not publicly available; it is being sold by research companies, and the data provided is contested by some media owners and experts. Especially for TV audience the data was not obtainable and all rights are reserved.
- Some investigations, particularly into the diverse local markets as well as into more hidden ownership structures would require more time and resources. India is a big country and probably MOM could be implemented in each of the 29 states of India.
- Public spending / advertising for media is not transparent. It is impossible to identify public funds spent on media, because this information is not made available to public or not always clearly labelled as advertising. Though, DAVP provided data on Central Government committment to the newspapers. The data on advertising for TV on state and central levels were not available.
12. Who do we target?
The data base
- allows each citizen to get informed on the media system in general;
- creates a fact base for civil society’s advocacy efforts to further promote public consciousness on media ownership and concentration;
- serves as a point of reference for consulting competition authorities or governmental bodies when establishing suitable regulatory measures to safeguard media pluralism.
13. What happens next?
The database is a snapshot of the current situation, contextualized by historical facts. It will be updated regularly by DataLEADS.
14. Are there similar projects?
The Media Ownership Monitor is mainly inspired by two similar projects. Especially the indicators for a later ranking rely heavily on the EU-funded Media Pluralism Monitor of the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) at the European University Institute (EUI, Florence). Moreover, Media Pedia, an ownership database developed by investigative journalists in Macedonia served as inspiration for the Media Ownership Monitor. An overview over other similar projects can be found in the table below.
A Spanish NGO that works in the field of media ownership transparency in several European countries.
An NGO which works in the field of press freedom. It implements media concentration projects.
The Media Freedom Navigator of Deutsche Welle provides an overview of different media freedom indices.
A database of television and audiovisual services in Europe.
The Website provides a summary and analysis of the state of the media in Europe and neighbouring countries.
The Media Pluralism Monitor assesses risks for media pluralism in the EU Member States.
The network provides information of the state of the media in many countries.
The Media Sustainability Index (MSI) provides analyses of the conditions for independent media in 80 countries.
The Website provides information about media ownership in Great Britain.
The organisation publishes an interactive database about media in the United States.
Monitors media ownership and the impact on media pluralism in southeastern Europe and EU member states.
The Columbia Institute for Tele-Information at Columbia Business School
A research that works with authors from 30 countries in the world about media concentration using a common methodology.
A database of international corporations of the world´s biggest media.
Media Development Indicators - A framework for assessing media development.