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

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Corporatisation of the Media

Implications of the RIL-Network18-Eenadu Deal

The entry of Reliance Industries, India's largest corporate entity in the private sector, into the country's media industry in a major way with strategic associations with the Network18 group and the Eenadu group, has been perceived as an instance of consolidation in a sector in which big players have been steeped in debt and strapped for cash over the past few years. What the formation of the new media conglomerate (arguably one of the largest, if not the largest, in India) in the shake-out also signifies is growing concentration of ownership in an oligopolistic market that could lead to loss of media heterogeneity and plurality.

On 3 January, the Mukesh Ambaniled Reliance Industries (RIL) – India’s biggest privately-owned corporate entity with a turnover of Rs 2,58,651 crore in the financial year that ended on 31 March 2011 – announced that it was entering into a complex, multi layered financial arrangement that involved selling its interests in the Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh-based Eenadu group founded by Ramoji Rao to the Network18 group headed by Raghav Bahl and also funding the latter through a rights issue of shares. The deal will make the combined conglomerate India’s biggest media group, according to Bahl – bigger than media groups like STAR controlled by Rupert Murdoch and the Bennett, Coleman Company/Times of India group (publishers of the Times of India and the Economic Times, among other newspapers and owners of the Times NOW television channel) controlled by the Jain family.

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