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

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No Freedom to Despise

Signs of serious curbs on freedom of expression are already evident.

Two years ago, when Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) took the first step towards acquiring a stake in a large media house, there were a few murmurs, mostly outside mainstream media. Now that RIL has openly announced its acquisition of one of the largest media companies, one would expect to hear some expression of concern. Yet, not surprisingly, there is virtual silence. It would appear that no one really cares that India’s most powerful business house now controls one of the largest media companies. It is as if this convergence of corporate and media interests poses no threat to freedom of expression and media plurality.

Perhaps it is mere coincidence, but RIL announced its acquisition within days of the Modi government taking office. It now has the controlling share in Network18 Media and Investments Ltd and TV18 Broadcast Ltd. In effect, this means that RIL now controls a vast swathe of media that includes the television channels CNBC TV18, CNN-IBN, CNBC Awaaz; the news websites and; the print magazine Forbes India; the entertainment channels Colors, MTV and Homeshop Entertainment as well as around a dozen regional channels that are a part of Eenadu TV. Additionally, it will shortly roll out its 4G network on which it can offer exclusive media content.

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