Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is MOM?
The Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) has been developed as a mapping tool that generates a publicly available database detailing the proprietors of the biggest communications media in each country (press, television, radio and Internet) and their related interests. This information will be continually updated.
MOM seeks to make the risks to media pluralism brought about a concentration of media ownership more visible (for more information: Methodology). MOM also qualitatively assesses market conditions and the regulatory environment, so as to capture local characteristics and detect elements capable of increasing or reducing the risk of media concentration.
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 or economic interests, even more so if individuals are involved that hold a public office and who don’t 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 became so complex that the original beneficial owner is difficult to identify.
- Last not least, there are ‘normal’ – i.e. non-media-related reasons for owners to hide, such as tax evasion.
5. What kind of concentration regulation does MOM suggest?
MOM doesn’t make normative statements. It does not suggest how to control media ownership. Which form of media concentration control can work, depends on the country context, the existing legal and market conditions, 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 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?
Preferably, official data sources, and/or sources with a high level of reliability and trust are used. Whenever not publicly available, information was directly requested of media companies, political representatives and research institutes. All sources are thoroughly documented and archived (link to Library). Further information is available on request at Tiempo Argentino
In Argentina TV and Radio measurements are exclusively carried out by Kantar Ibope Media – a market research firm with offices in 16 countries, 14 of which are in Latin America. MOM Argentina used data from 2017 leaked to the media as Kantar Ibope rejected to present or sell the requested information for this research. In the print segment, data from the Circulation Verification Institute (IVC) were used. Specifically, the report issued by the IVC in October 2018. In the case of digital media, we cross headed leaks to the media from Alexa and Similarweb. The dataset was provided by a trusted academic who has access to the information.
7. How is "most relevant media" defined?
The main question is: which media outlets influence the opinion-forming process? In order to scan all relevant media, we included all traditional media types (Print, Radio, TV, Online). The media were selected according to the following criteria:
· MOM focused mostly on media with the highest reach, measured by audience share. Basis for selection was audience research data leaked to the media from Kantar Ibope Media in the case of Radio and TV.
· The news worthiness and opinion content. The study focuses on general information with a national focus. As such, media with specific thematic focus (music, sport), social networks, search engines and advertisement were excluded.
· The selection based on these criteria initially consisted of plus/minus ten media outlets per media type (TV, print, online. Shedding light on these most relevant media outlets already allows revealing tendencies in media concentration. More media outlets were and will be added – if they proof to be relevant in terms of their owner or of their influence on public opinion (read more - “How are media outlets selected?”).
8. How are the media outlets selected?
The media selection is based on the criteria of audience share. Yet, the public data on media market research in Argentina, is characterized by being inaccessible. Furthermore, the media industry and academics question the credibility and methodology of the companies which provide audience measurements, as they only measure their own clients.
TV channels. The selection of the TV outlets was based on Kantar Ibope Media’s 2017 audience share data for the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires. Additionally, TV channels with the highest reach in the cities of Rosario and Córdoba were also selected. The data on audience shares in the interior of the country was also based on measurements made by Kantar Ibope Media
Radio stations. Just like TV, MOM Argentina’s team chose the radio stations in this study from a report published by Agencia Anunciar, based on Kantar Ibope Media’s 2017 data.
Print. For the selection of print outlets, data was obtained from the Circulation Verification Institute (IVC), which audits 27 daily newspapers and three regular newspapers, as well as paid and free circulation magazines. The selection was besed according to the newspapers with the highes circulation during the month of September 2018.
Online. 15 digital media outlets were selected based on a ranking made by the company Alexa, which measures the unique visitors of website. Social media were not included, since they are not relevant in terms of editorial content and ownership.
9. Why Argentina?
Argentina ranks 52 (out of 180 countries) in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporter Without Borders which positions nations according to indicators such as media independence, self-censorship, rule of law, transparency, and abuses.
Even tough the climate for press freedom in Argentina is relatively safe, there are some concerns. The adaptation of a new media legislation in 2015 which encourages a greater concentration of media ownership, especially in the hands of large media groups, is an example of the challenges faced by the media outlets regarded as critical. In extreme cases, these media have been the targets of defamation suits that usually end with damages awards designed to strangle them financially. Several reporters were targeted and attacked by police during major street protests in 2017.
Lastly, a strong local partner organization such as Tiempo is one of RSF’s most relevant selection criteria as it presents the basis for a successful implementation and sustainability.
10. Does the MOM only exist for Argentina?
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 limitations of the study?
Official audience measurement data is not publicly available; it is being sold by research companies. For this reason, the selection of the media was complicated since there is no public and reliable source to obtain this type of information. The selection of television channels and radio stations was obtained by crossing data that was leaked to the media from market agencies, with academic studies and interviews with experts.
No economic data: Market concentration based on market share could not be calculated since complete and credible numbers were not available publicly.
12. Who do we target?
· Allows any citizen to inform themselves about the media system generally and the owners of the media he or she consumes. The project also raises awareness about the importance of media ownership, transparency and critical judgment about media content.
· It supports civil society activities that promote public awareness of the impact of media ownership concentration.
· It provides a database for government authorities when establishing regulatory measures necessary 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 Tiempo Argentino.
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.