“I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.” – Henry Luce

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Media Ownership

Who owns the mass media in India?

There are many media organisations in the country that are owned and controlled by a wide variety of entities including corporate bodies, societies and trusts, and individuals.

·        The sheer number of media organisations and outlets often there is dominance by a few players – in other words, the markets are often oligopolistic in character.
·        The cross-media ownership,  that particular companies or groups or conglomerates dominate markets both vertically (that is, across different media such as print, radio, television and the internet) as well as horizontally (namely, in particular geographical regions).
·        Political parties and persons with political affiliation own/control increasing sections of the media in India.
·        The promoters and controllers of media groups have traditionally held interests in many other business interests They have used the profits from their media operations to diversify into other (unrelated) businesses.
·        The growing corporatization of the Indian media is manifest(visible) in the manner in which large industrial conglomerates are acquiring direct and indirect interest in media groups. There is also a growing convergence between creators/producers of media content and those who distribute/disseminate the content.

These trends can be perceived as instances of consolidation in a sector in which big players have been steeped in debt and strapped for cash over the past few years. The shake-out also signifies growing concentration of ownership in an oligopolistic (An oligopoly is much like a monopoly, in which only one company exerts control over most of a market.) market that could lead to loss of heterogeneity and plurality. The emergence of cartels(lobby) and oligarchies could be symptomatic of an increasingly globalised but homogenized communication landscape, .

The Indian media market differs from those of developed countries in several ways. For one, India is a developing country and all segments of the media industry (including print and radio) are still growing unlike in developed countries. The media market in India remains highly fragmented, due to the large number of languages and the sheer size of the country.

In India’s unique “media scape”, it is often contended that the proliferation (a large number of something) of publications, radio stations, television channels, and internet websites is a sure-fire guarantor for plurality, diversity, and consumer choice. There were over 82,000 publications registered with the Registrar of Newspapers as on 31 March 2011. There are over 250 FM (frequency modulation) radio stations in the country strangely, India is the only democracy in the world where news on the radio is still a monopoly of the government. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has allowed nearly 800 television channels to uplink or downlink from the country. 300 television channels were broadcasting “news and current affairs”. There is an unspecified number of websites aimed at Indians.

The mass media in India is possibly dominated by less than a hundred large groups or conglomerates, which exercise considerable influence on what is read, heard, and watched. One example will illustrate this contention. Delhi is the only urban area in the world with 16 English daily newspapers; the top three publications, the Times of India, the Hindustan Times, and the Economic Times.

The large conglomerates of the Indian media are usually own different companies.
Debates on media ownership are almost as old as the nation itself. The country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his Defence Minister V.K. Krishna Menon would criticize the “jute press” in a clear reference to BCCL which was then controlled by the Sahu-Jain group which also controlled New Central Jute Mills.

Then came references to the “steel press”. The Tata group, which is a part-owner of the company that publishes the once-influential The Statesman
Ramnath Goenka, who used to head the Indian Express group, made an aborted attempt in the 1960s to control the Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO). The  family-owned groups would use their news companies to lobby for their other business interests.

Publishers of Hindustan Times and Hindustan, has included the former chairman of Ernst & Young K. N. Memani and the chairman of ITC Ltd Y C Deveshwar.
NDTV’s Board of Directors has Pramod Bhasin, President & CEO of the country’s biggest BPO company GenPact as a member of its board of directors.

Media companies tend to have a variety of professionals on their boards, such as investment bankers, venture capitalists, chartered accountants, corporate lawyers, and CEOs of big companies. Professional journalists, ironically, rarely figure. As a result, those at the top of the decision-making hierarchy are those for whom the bottom-line, not the by-line, is most important.

SUN TV NETWORK, INDIA’S LARGEST MEDIA CONGLOMERATE, has signed an agreement with Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation, an undertaking owned by the Government of Tamil Nadu engaged in the business of providing signals to Cable Operators in the State of Tamil Nadu. It is world's no 1 Tamil channel that features movies, news, serials and shows -- 24 hours a day.

- Sun Group, one of the biggest media conglomerates in the country, Sun TV is second largest television network in India.. It has 20 TV channels, 45 radio stations, four magazines, two dailies, a DTH (direct to home) service provider and an airline (SpiceJet.  It also produces and distributes movies under Sun Pictures and runs Sun Cable Vision, a cable distribution company with a reported market share of 90% in Tamil Nadu.  Sun TV has grown from a single channel and five-employee organisation to a network of 13 southern language channels with 6,000 employees. The channels are supported by its cable company Sumangali Cable Vision, Tamil Nadu's largest  mutli-system  operator. Maran also owns three Tamil weekly magazines and four FM radio stations.

In Kerala, the newspaper, Deshabhimani, published by Chintha Printing and Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd, controlled by the CPIM(M) Kerala State Committee. Besides, there is the CPI (M)-controlled Malayalam Communications Limited that owns the Kairali TV and People TV. The Shiv Sena has the Saamnain Maharashtra; In Kerala, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) has teamed up with four non-resident Indian businessmen who have a combined holding of about 26 per cent in Jai Hind TV, controlled byBharat Broadcasting Network Ltd. Among the key individuals controlling the operations are Ramesh Chennithala, former minister and official spokesman of KPCC, M.M. Hassan and two Dubai-based businessmen, Kunjukutty Aniyankunju and Vijayan Thomas. Interestingly, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee members have invested about Rs. 20 crore in the Indiavisionchannel, controlled by M. K. Muneer, former Muslim League minister, through Indiavision Satellite Communications Limited.

The National Herald, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru (on September 9, 1938) and funded by the Indian National Congress for many years, shut down in 2008, in its 70th year. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of the nation, published Harijan in English (from 1933 to 1948), Harijan Bandhu in Gujaratiand Harijan Sevak in Hindi.
 In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of the late chief minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, has the newspaper and television channel Sakshi, .  The other important Andhra media player with a clear political agenda is the K. Chandrasekhara Rao-controlled television channel T-News.

In Tamil Nadu H. Vasanthkumar, MLA and president of the Tamil Nadu commerce wing of the Congress, which controls Vasanth TV held by Vasanth and Co. Media Network Private Limited. There is also K. V. Thangabalu, Congress MP and former Union minister, who controls Mega TV, held through Silverstar Communications Limited. The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) controls Makkal TV, through Makkal Tholai Thodarpu Kuzhumam Ltd, which is controlled by PMK chief S. Ramadoss, father of former Union Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss.

.Kalanithi Maran, the grand nephew of Karunanidhi, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) patriarch. Maran controls Sun TV, Sun News, KTV, Sun Music, Chutti TV, Sumangali Cable, Adithya TV, Chintu TV, Kiran TV, Khushi TV, Udaya Comedy, Udaya Music, Gemini TV, Gemini Comedy, and Gemini Movies. He also controls the newspaper Dinakaran, and Suryan FM 93.5 and Red FM 93.5 in the radio space. Sun TV is controlled by Sun TV Network Limited, Suryan FM is owned by Kal Radio Ltd.

DMK supremo Muthuvel Karunanidhi himself controls Kalaignar TV Pvt. Limited, owner of the very popular Kalaignar TV . Close associate and businessman, M. Raajhendran, controls Raj TV and Raj Digital Plus through Raj Television Network Limited in which he owns 11.3 per cent shares.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) chief controls Jaya TV, Jaya Max, Jaya Plus, and J Movie through Mavis Satcom Ltd.

In Karnataka the  two important players are Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, who owns Kannada Kasturithrough Kasthuri Medias Pvt. Ltd, and businessman Rajeev Chandrashekhar, an independent member of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, who controls a host of language offerings: Asianet and Asianet Plus (Malayalam), Suvarna (Kannada), Vijay(Tamil) and Sitara (Telugu), Best FM and Radio Indigo, and Kannada Prabhathrough Jupiter Media and Entertainment, which owns 26 per cent of the shares in the company that publishes Kannada Prabha.

The West Bengal government led by Mamata Banerjee recently proposed that the state government should itself set up its own daily newspaper and television channel


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