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The Lowdown: TRAI recommendations on Media Ownership, Vertical integration, Paid News, Private Treaties, Disclosures & More

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting set up a commission, headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge, to examine various issues relating to the media. It has issued a set of recommendations (download) regarding ensuring plurality in the media, and its increasing influence. From an anti-trust perspective, the authority has recommended the usage of the "Herfindahl Hirschman Index" to ascertain the concentration of media within specific states, to ensure that there is adequate compensation, and give media companies two years to diversify. It's important to note that the TRAI has not taken into account magazines and the Internet, citing a limited reach for the Internet and limited circulation for magazines, and focused only on the TV and Print, due to their pervasive reach and influence. The Lowdown on TRAI's recommendations on Media Ownership 1. Defining control: The TRAI highlights the difference between ownership and control of a media outlet, saying that ownership implies economic benefit (shareholding) while control implies the ability to influence. The TRAI relies on the Companies Act 2013 to define the threshold of equity holding that defines control, via associate, subsidiary and relative holdings, but extends the definition of associate companies to also include control through loan and debt instruments, following stakeholder comments that pointed towards the usage of debt instruments. TRAI's definition of control is that an entity (C) controls another (M) if, directly or through associate companies, subsidiaries or relatives if it: a. Directly owns at least…

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Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

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