CHURUMURI POLL: No to cross-media ownership?

It’s an issue that has been discussed and dismissed in the United States and other countries, but as India stands at the cusp of a media explosion, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has fired a fresh salvo against cross-media ownership. “Newspaper owners should not be allowed to start TV channels and vice-versa,” CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat has said. In 2004, his party had said more or less the same thing in the run-up to the general elections.

The opposition stems from a desire to prevent the creation and growth of monopolies. Cross-media ownership, they fear, could be used by proprietors and editors to “brainwash” the reading/viewing masses, by pushing a line in alignment with their business, political or ideological interests. And by shutting out other points of view or by not giving room for competitors who could air other points of view through the use of unlawful and unethical business practices.

Questions: Is the CPI(M) barking up the wrong tree, or is it right? Is there a danger if a company owns a television station, a radio station, and several newspapers in the same market? Is the CPI(M) reacting too late, after the monopolies are already in operation, or is it just making the usual electoral noises? Should there be regulation to ensure a multiplicity of news and views? Or should it be left to the “market forces”?

Also read: Organiser on cross-media ownership