Media owning companies in India share in many cases some significant features. Whereas some present a fairly simple shareholding which shows clearly who pulls the strings, others have created complex structures of subsidiary companies. The web of companies, cross-owning one another, are set up to obscure the relationship between the owner and the media company. For instance, the Birla Family’s shares in the India Today Group required meticulous calculation involving going through the shareholding structures of more than two dozen companies, which stand out with their heavy crossholding among each other. A similar pattern can be detected in Essel Group and Zee Media Corporation, owned by Dr. Subhash Chandra whose shares are veiled behind several interconnected companies.
In addition, media companies in India are mostly private limited companies. With a few public companies that trade between 25 and 35 per cent of their shares in the Indian Stock Exchange, most of these are still largely controlled by the founding families.