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

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Foreign Participation in Media

Public discussion on whether foreign participation should be allowed in media enterprises, has quite overlooked the fact that increasingly, the pace and path of the media is being determined by advertising, and is influenced by market research and media planning strategies in which corporates, Indian and foreign, have invested heavily.

The Indian media scene has gone through a dramatic shift recently both in terms of content and control. While media content is more and more market driven, control has now shifted although indirectly to ‘foreign corporates’. And yet our political masters continue to revive irrelevant debates like the one of 1955 cabinet decision against foreign capital into Indian print media when in fact the ‘foreign factor’ is already moderating the priorities of most media in the country. The debate on foreign equity perhaps is meant to sideline the core of the issue – the direction of Indian media. Today advertising and market research in many ways determine the scope of media. Both these functions are in the hands of corporates controlled by foreign corporates.

Firstly, the share of advertising in total revenue of media has increased from 25-30 per cent some decades ago to 45-55 per cent today. In fact, in the case of television channels, advertising has largely determined the priorities and preoccupations. Even in the case of some big newspapers, revenue from advertising constitutes as much as 60 per cent of total revenue.

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