TRAI to suggest ways for corporate control of media

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will recommend the setting up of an ‘institutional buffer between corporate owners and newspaper management’ to the government. TRAI, which is also the regulator for the broadcasting industry, will also opine ways to curb cross-media ownership in line with practices in ‘most other established democracies.’

As per TRAI, the recommendations for the separation of corporate ownership of media from editorial management would be based on the principle as “the media serves public interest”. The regulator is also cogitating over a “two out of three rule”,whereby a media house could have interests in two of three mediums among print, TV or radio. 

What is the problem in corporate houses controlling both ownership of media and its editorial management?

 In case both ownership and editorial management of media goes to corporate the possibility of abuse of media by using it for vested interests increases. The latest example is incidence of ‘paid news’ which has been used to mislead the readers and influence the political system. Thus, the idea is to create an institutionalized buffer b/w the corporate owner and newspaper management to ensure the independence of TV channels and the print media to articulate impartial, free and fair editorial policy.

TRAI has categorically rejected objections from media houses that any such restriction would violate the right to freedom of speech under Article 19 of the Constitution. All robust democracies have some restrictions on cross-media ownership.



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