ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

'Regulation' and 'Non-Media' Money in Media

The close nexus between chit fund operators and politicians on one side and the media on the other typifies the growing importance of the media to political parties and to the political process in general. The path-breaking Telecom Regulatory Authority of India paper on "Media Monopolies" in August 2014 identifi ed the takeover of the media space by non-media corporates in order to alter the business environment to its advantage, as a very real threat. Like its predecessors, the National Democratic Alliance government has maintained a studied silence on all regulatory issues suggested by TRAI.

The twin chit fund scams in West Bengal and Odisha wherein thousands were cheated of their money is not the first of its kind and it may not be the last. What, however, distinguishes both is the close nexus between the alleged scamsters (a combination of chit fund operators and politicians) and the media, pointing not for the first time to the growing importance of the media both print and television, to political parties and to the political process in general. Together the scams point towards an issue very clearly flagged by the path-breaking Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) paper on “media monopolies” in August 2014. It has identified the takeover of the media space by “non-media corporate” in order to “alter the business environment to its advantage”, as a very real threat.1 It has accordingly and perhaps for the first time called for a debate on the issue, and “increased transparency” as the first step towards identifying this infusion, an issue that has not surprisingly found no traction in the mainstream media.

As part of this exercise the TRAI report has also recommended that formation of media monopolies should not be governed by the Competition Act 2002 since news is a product of a different order relating to “public goods” as opposed to toothpaste and cream. News is vital to democracy and diversity is of its essence as categorically spelled out by the Supreme Court 20 years ago.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top