Right wing and “pro-nation” digital media outlets including OpIndia, Goa Chronicle and Republic World have come together to form the Indian Digital Media Association (IDMA) as a self-regulatory body of sorts. While it isn’t entirely clear what the newly-formed organisation’s functions will be, a press release claimed IDMA will work towards “ensur[ing] that Indian interests are protected against vested foreign interference and control”.

The IDMA’s founding members include OpIndia, Goa Chronicle, Republic World, OTV Digital, Desh Gujarat, Assamlive.com, NewsX, Sundayguardianlive and InKhabar — all pro-government outlets. These members claim a collective viewership of over a 100 million. It isn’t clear what “Assamlive.com” is since the mentioned website doesn’t exist. Also, another 25 members are being onboarded into the organisation, the release said.

Nupur Sharma, editor of OpIndia, said IDMA would work to strengthen, organise and advocate for the interest of “Nationalist Digital Media” in the country. Savio Rodrigues, founder and editor-in-chief of Goa Chronicle said the organisation would become the “true voice of a vibrant India digital media space”.

Indian-owned, no foreign influence: IDMA

The IDMA said it took pride in the fact that its members are completely owned by Indians. “IDMA will serve with the guiding principle of being 100% Indian, uncompromisingly nationalistic and will take the voice of India to the world. Nationalistic media platforms of the country have come together as IDMA to do uphold (sic) a vision for India that is not directly or surreptitiously owned by foreign elements.”

The newly-formed organisation said it will aim to ensure Indian interests are protected against “vested foreign interference and control”. “IDMA stands against all overseas control of the Indian digital media, as it directly compromises Indian interests and Indian users. We strongly believe that it should be our aim to take Indian media global, rather than compromising the interest of Indian readers and their right to information by inviting overseas control […]”

The IDMA said it is time for Indian editors and owners to come together and “fight the onslaught of foreign ownership and editorship”, which it claimed was the reason behind rampant corruption in news.

Indian ownership of news media a hot topic

The IDMA’s formation, and its rhetoric over foreign news ownership, comes only days after the government issued a “clarification” of FDI rules. The government said that news aggregators will have one year to make sure that their FDI doesn’t exceed 26%. MediaNama had pointed out that this clarification showed the 2019 policy change for what it was: a restriction on foreign funding for Indian news outlets. We have argued in the past that this is a restrictive policy that would inhibit Indian media from competing internationally.

The policy change may affect news aggregators such as Dailyhunt and Inshorts, which have raised significant funding from foreign investors. These companies may now effectively have to reduce their foreign investors’ aggregate stake to 26%.

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