Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is MOM?
The “Media Ownership Monitor” (MOM) has been developed as a mapping tool in order to create a publicly available, continuously updated database that lists owners of all relevant mass media outlets - press, radio, television and online media.
MOM aims to shed light on the risks to media pluralism caused by media ownership concentration (for more information: Methodology. In order to grasp the national characteristics and detect risk-enhancing or risk-reducing factors for media concentration, MOM also qualitatively assesses the market conditions and legal environment.
2. Who is behind MOM?
Since 2015, MOM has been incubated by Reporter ohne Grenzen e. V. – the German section of the international human rights organization Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), which aims to defend freedom of the press and the right to inform and be informed anywhere in the world.
In 2019, the project was spun-off to the Global Media Registry (GMR), an independent, non-for profit social enterprise registered under German law.
3. Where can I download this report?
The website affords a PDF download containing all website content. The PDF is automatically generated and thus updated on a daily base. It exists for all website languages. In order to generate the PDF, scroll down to the website footer, choose your preferred language and “Download complete website as PDF”.
4. Why is transparency of media ownership important?
Media pluralism is a key aspect of democratic societies as free, independent, and diverse media reflect divergent viewpoints and allow criticism of people in power. Risks to diversity of ideas are caused by media market concentration, when only a few players exert dominant influence on public opinion and raise entrance barriers for other players and perspectives (media ownership concentration). The biggest obstacle to fight it is lack of transparency of media ownership: How can people evaluate the reliability of information, if they don´t know who provides it? How can journalists work properly, if they don´t know who controls the company they work for? And how can media authorities address excessive media concentration, if they don´t know who is behind the media´s steering wheel?
MOM thus aims to create transparency and to answer the question “who eventually controls media content?” in order to raise public awareness, to create a fact base for advocacy to hold political and economic players accountable for the existing conditions.
As we consider ownership transparency as a crucial precondition to enforce media pluralism, we document the openness of media companies/outlets to provide information on their ownership structure. Considering their answers, we distinguish different levels of transparency – which is indicated for each media outlet and media company on their profile.
Media owner’s motivation to remain hidden or even actively disguise their investments can vary from legitimate to illegal and be rooted in personal, legal or business-related reasons – or a mix thereof, in extreme cases even including criminal offenses like tax evasion or breaches of anti-trust laws.
Some of those reasons include the following:
- In several countries, media ownership is restricted by law in order to avoid concentration. So, if one individual wants to extend his or her media empire beyond these limits, proxy owners and/or shell companies registered abroad, even off-shore, are frequently being used.
- Sometimes, media owners receive personal threats or face other dangers either originating from governments or competing businesses and therefore decide to remain unknown to protect themselves.
- In many cases, media ownership is intertwined with undue political and / or economic interests, even more so if individuals involved hold public office and do not want to disclose such a conflict of interests.
- In rare cases, the disguise of media ownership happens unintentionally because over time and through mergers and acquisitions, corporate structures become so complex that the original beneficial owner is difficult to identify.
- Last but not least, there are ‘normal’ – i. e. non-media-related reasons for owners to hide, such as tax avoidance.
5. What kind of concentration regulation does MOM suggest?
MOM doesn’t make normative statements – it does not suggest how to regulate media ownership. Which form of media concentration regulation can work, depends on the country context, the existing legal and market conditions and the ownership landscape.
MOM provides a transparency tool to enforce a democratic discussion on that issue as well as good governance: decisions are likely to be of higher quality and able to better reflect the needs and wishes of the people if they have access to adequate information and broad consultations, with views and opinions freely shared.
6. How is data collected and validated?
Relied almost 100 percent on certified official data from Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) for electronic media (TV and radio) plus some of ten newspapers and websites whose companies are registered with SECP. We submitted “information request” under Right-to-Information laws of Pakistan (federal and provincial) to electronic media regulator Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Ministries of Information in the federal as well as four provincial governments and the companies who own these media outlets. Data from these bodies, media outlets and owners was officially certified and confirmed wherever provided. Some data was also used as provided by some of the media outlets directly – all 40 media outlets were approached but only a few responded positively.
Data on audience share was obtained from multiple independent professional sources but we settled on data from Gallup Pakistan as the single main source that was able to provide all data requested on all four mediums (TV, print, radio and websites). Findings, based on verified data, was validated and approved by the Advisory Board members consisting of national level media specialists, academicians with knowledge and experience in the media and communications.
7. How is “most relevant media” defined?
The most relevant media in context of Pakistan are TV, newspapers, radio and online because while print media is an established institution for over seven decades and highly influential in policy-making circles, the expansion in radio, TV and online continues uninterrupted and consistently since 2002 when broadcast media sector was privatised. The first independent radio and TV licences were awarded in 2002 and the latest have been awarded in July 2019 indicating a continued expansion and relevance of the electronic media sector. Likewise, online media expansion has exploded in recent years and online-only as well as offline mirror media on the Internet continues apace.
The sample of Top 40 media outlets for Pakistan (Top 10 players in TV, print, radio and online media) could have been selected on two basis – 1) Market share, or 2) Audience share. The latter basis was selected because market share information is difficult to get in Pakistan whereas audience share information on an annually updated basis is widely available, which is fairly reliable from independent professional sources. Audience share information offers a reliable indicator of the audience reach as well as influence in terms of cross-media ownership, which in Pakistan’s case is a critical element of influencing the opinion forming process in the country.
8. How are the media outlets selected?
News TV channels, radio stations, newspapers and online media were selected on the basis of highest audience share and approval of Advisory Board. Top 10 TV channels with highest audience were selected.
9. Why Pakistan?
Pakistan is ranked 139th in 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which positions nations according to indicators such media independence, self-censorship, rule of law, transparency and abuses.
Also, a strong media rights watchdog national organisation, Freedom Network, is RSF partner organization in Pakistan, with successful experience of implementing various media development programmes including research, advocacy and training on media professionalism issues. Freedom Network led the MOM Pakistan research.
10. Does the MOM only exist for Pakistan?
MOM was developed as a generic methodology that can be universally applied – and potentially will be. Notwithstanding that media concentration trends are observable worldwide; implementation and analysis will first take place in developing countries. MOM has been implemented in around 20 countries over the course of three years. All country projects can be found on the global website.
11. What are the main limitations of the study?
No market share data: information on media market shares of various media outlets and companies is not easily, reliably and independently available in Pakistan, which hampers strong research foundation.
Shareholding transparency challenges: While ownership transparency is fairly good in Pakistan, shareholding transparency of media companies is a major challenge. An overwhelming majority of media companies approached directly with request for shareholding data simply ignored all requests. This information, particularly for broadcast media, had to be obtained against a fee from national business registry, SECP.
Some investigations by the MOM Pakistan team, particularly into the extended company ownership with diverse shareholding with hidden ownership structures required more time, resources and efforts. Public spending/advertising for media is not transparent in Pakistan as both media companies and governments do not easily share information about public sector advertising, despite RTI requests. The federal government and three of four provincial governments did not provide information about the amount of public sector advertisements for the requested period 2017-18
12. Who do we target?
The data base
- allows each citizen to get informed on the media system in general;
- creates a fact base for civil society’s advocacy efforts to further promote public consciousness on media ownership and concentration;
- serves as a point of reference for consulting competition authorities or governmental bodies when establishing suitable regulatory measures to safeguard media pluralism.
13. What happens next?
The database is a snapshot of the current situation, contextualized by historical facts. It will be updated regularly by Freedom Network.
14. Are there similar projects?
The Media Ownership Monitor is mainly inspired by two similar projects. Especially the indicators for a later ranking rely heavily on the EU-funded Media Pluralism Monitor of the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) at the European University Institute (EUI, Florence). Moreover, Media Pedia, an ownership database developed by investigative journalists in Macedonia served as inspiration for the Media Ownership Monitor. An overview over other similar projects can be found in the table below.
A Spanish NGO that works in the field of media ownership transparency in several European countries.
An NGO which works in the field of press freedom. It implements media concentration projects.
The Media Freedom Navigator of Deutsche Welle provides an overview of different media freedom indices.
A database of television and audiovisual services in Europe.
The Website provides a summary and analysis of the state of the media in Europe and neighbouring countries.
The Media Pluralism Monitor assesses risks for media pluralism in the EU Member States.
The network provides information of the state of the media in many countries.
The Media Sustainability Index (MSI) provides analyses of the conditions for independent media in 80 countries.
The Website provides information about media ownership in Great Britain.
The organisation publishes an interactive database about media in the United States.
Monitors media ownership and the impact on media pluralism in southeastern Europe and EU member states.
A research that works with authors from 30 countries in the world about media concentration using a common methodology.
A database of international corporations of the world´s biggest media.
Media Development Indicators - A framework for assessing media development.