India

Facebook News Media: Who Is Winning in Asia?

Chinese and Indian news media command millions of followers on Facebook - but it is in the much tinier Myanmar where news media is really effective?
 
Today, we released the Facebook Index Asia-Pacific, which measures news outlets in this part of the world based on the number of their followers reported to the size of their local market.
 
The news media market on Facebook in the Asia-Pacific region is extremely vibrant. Only two media outlets score more than 100 in the Index in Asia-Pacific, which is a low score compared to, say, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region where we have 17 such news outlets. However, that is explained by the homogeneity of the MENA market, where nations are united by the common use of Arabic. It is not the case in Asia, one of the most diverse continents, an amalgam of language markets, foreign influences and cultures.

What Happens When Media Oligarchs Go Shopping?

Mighty, politically well-connected oligarchs are in the mood for retail therapy, and their targets are media outlets. Their influence over journalism has begun to reach worrying levels.
 
Jack Ma of Chinese giant Alibaba, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, Delyan Peevski from the tobacco maker Bulgartabak, Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris and Saudi prince Al-Waleed are all completely different businessmen. They look totally unalike and live in different places. One is obese, another one is skinny. One hails from Sofia, another one from Cairo. Their tastes are dissimilar.
 
But they also have some things in common: an unwonted wealth, close links with political power and a firm grip on much of the world’s media.
 
The issue of ownership concentration in the media is not new. It goes back to the 1980s and 1990s when some of the now old media moguls began to build their holdings. The rise of disrupting internet behemoths in the past decade or so was expected to dent into their power. It didn’t.

Why Indian Politicians Buy Cable Operations

India’s cable industry is a buoyant market. Much of that is in the hands of local politicians who use cable companies to reach their constituencies, stave off unfavorable reporting or to influence regulation. The situation is not at all kosher; but nobody seems to be concerned.
 
In 2011, an investigative TV documentary on illegal iron ore mining in Bellary, situated north of India’s IT city of Bangalore, Karnataka, was aired by CNN-IBN, a leading English news channel. The documentary was blacked out on local cable networks in seven districts in Karnataka, including Bellary. The cable network in this mining town, called DEN Bellary City Cable, was then partly-owned by Bellary Sreeramulu, former minister in the state government and a business associate of the three Reddy brothers (Karunakara, Janardhana and Somashekara), who owned several mines in the area, besides being ministers in several governments in Karnataka.