India to Limit Media Monopolies
Jun. 19 – The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is set to recommend that an “institutional buffer between corporate owners and newspaper management” be created to better guide the country’s media industry and to prevent monopolies by way of cross-media ownership restrictions.
The recommendation is based on the principle that corporate ownership of media must be separated from editorial management, as the TRAI has noticed the issue of a “growing number of undesirables, including…politicians” having stakes in media companies to presumably spin stories in their favor.
“The idea is to create an institutionalized buffer between the corporate owner and newspaper management to ensure the independence of TV channels and print media to articulate impartial, free and fair editorial policies,” explained TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar.
As such, he plans to recommend an organizational structure in which a corporate owner can only have a financial interest in a company, but little to no say on its editorial operations.
Khullar added that he has no problem with corporations investing in or owning media houses for profits, “but a problem arises when the corporate wants to abuse the media it controls to project a colored point of view for vested interests.”
The TRAI has also noticed that certain media houses have interests and a presence in all three mediums: television, print and radio. To combat this, the TRAI is suggesting a “two out of three rule” in which a media house may only have interests in two out of the three different mediums.
In defense of objections noting that such regulations would violate freedom of speech rights, Mr Khullar answered: “All robust democracies have some restrictions on cross-media ownership. This is absolutely necessary to maintain the plurality and diversity of media.”
India’s media and entertainment sector now contributes about one percent to India’s total GDP, with combined revenues of Rs.80,500 crore (US$17 billion) in 2011 and projected annual growth of 17 percent. There are over 840 officially registered channels (out of which 300 are news and current affairs channels), and over 82,000 registered publications (out of which 14,000 are daily newspapers).
Dezan Shira & Associates is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in emerging Asia. Since its establishment in 1992, the firm has grown into one of Asia’s most versatile full-service consultancies with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Vietnam as well as liaison offices in Italy and the United States.
You can stay up to date with the latest business and investment trends across India by subscribing to Asia Briefing’s complimentary update service featuring news, commentary, guides, and multimedia resources.
An Introduction to Doing Business in India
In this guide, we introduce the basics of setting up and running a company in the country and some of the key issues investors should pay attention to. This issue is currently available as a complimentary download on the Asia Briefing Bookstore.
- Previous Article India Raises Import Duty on Gold and Platinum
- Next Article Indian Gov’t Meets with Global Retailers to Review FDI Policy