, July 30, 2012

Media has news, marketing and entertainment versions. Ninety per cent of TV viewing population watches entertainment, not news. It influences the way we think, the way we dress, the way we imbibe our values.

“Without disregarding the importance of news, one cannot have different things for news and entertainment,” said PN Vasanthi, Director, Centre for Media Studies.

Talking about pluralism and availability of choice, she said that their eight-year study of the news media shows that there are many players with many channels coming up. But we are getting more of the same. It’s the same serials in all the channels, so where is the choice? Where is the plurality? The number of players have increased drastically, but does that turn into an option for the listener, viewer or the reader?

In this convergence, is any regulation possible? With technology, there are different mediums becoming important, but is it feasible? “In today’s era we don’t respect the country’s laws and if there is a penalty or violation, we don’t know whether people will be penalised and whether it will reach a conclusion. There is no regulation in this sector, and the worry is that who will look after the development of this sector, per se,” she further shared.

The cross media debate

Cross media ownership has been a hotly debated topic, with strong supporters as well as detractors. Some feel that even if businessmen or politicians are not allowed to own media properties, there are various other ways of owning them.

Administrative Staff College of India performed a study, requested by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, on cross media ownership in India. It analysed different points such as what does concentration of ownership result in? Are there large number of players operating or are only few players actually dominating the market?, shared Dr Paramita Dasgupta, Professor, ASCI.

The study unveiled that there are a large number of companies that have cross media presence. There is significant concentration in a majority of relevant markets. It was also found that same people have ownership across the relevant markets, which indicates considerable amounts of dominance and market power.

Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, Consumer Unity and Trust society said, “In terms of the cross media ownership, it has been pointed out how concentration is increasing in various markets. In South India, it is probably the worst. Coming to the ownership in political parties, ownership as such is often difficult prove in the Indian contest. There is no guarantee you can control ownership or any kind of concentration.”

Dasgupta said, “Yes, there should be cross media regulations put it in place. Convergence should be taken into account and instead of having a multiple regulators we should have one umbrella regulator to look at all the aspects of media.”

PN Vasanthi, Dr Paramita Dasgupta and Pradeep S Mehta were speaking at a conference organised by ASSOCHAM on Cross Media Ownership. The conference was held in New Delhi on July 27, 2012.

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