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?

MOM has been proposed and launched by Reporter ohne Grenzen e. V. – the German section of the international human rights organization Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), that aims to defend freedom of the press and the right to inform and be informed anywhere in the world. 

In each country, RSF cooperates with a local partner organization. In Mexico, RSF worked with the National Center of Social Communication (Cencos). The project is funded by the Federal German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ). 

3. Who funds it?

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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 Control 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?

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 academic research institutes. All sources are thoroughly documented and archived (link to Library). Further information is available on request at Cencos

Our first source of information, for television and radio, was the database of the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT). For press, data from the National Register of Printed Media (PNMI) were used. In the case of digital media, leaks in the comScore company's media (Q1,Q2,Q3,Q4 2017) were employed.

In order to guarantee and verify the objective evaluation, MOM worked with an advisory group that commented and consulted throughout the research process. It was composed of national specialists with a substantial knowledge and experience in the media and communications fields. Amongst others, the following experts were accompanying the research process:

  • Carlos Bravo Regidor- Lecturer and academic coordinator(CIDE)
  • Dr. Rodrigo Gómez García- Lecturer and researcher, Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM)
  • Patricia de Obeso- Campaign Coordinator, Critical Thinking Advocates (CREATURA)
  • Gabriel Sosa Plata- Lecturer and researcher, Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM)
  • Homero Campa- Professor(CIDE) and International Information Coordinator at PROCESO
  • Ricardo González – Global Protection Cordinator,  Art. 19 

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 for the most recent period available provided by 
  • 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), with a focus on the radio market as it has the widest audience reach in Ghana. 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 Mexico, 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.

Television stations 

The selection of the TV outlets was complicated due to the lack of data available. We cross headed information from academic research with data on media consumption habits from the National Audiovisual Consumption Survey 2016. 

Print Outlets 

The selection of print media was undertaken based on the National Registry of Printed Media. The governmental office manages the registration and update of the newspapers printed in the country. This, with the objective to support the strategies of social communication of the Federal Government.  

Radio Stations 

Public data on radio is either unavailable. The first seven radio stations were selected based on INRA (September 2017)  and presented on different media outlets.  The rest of the radio stations were complemented with information obtained through an interview with Prof. Sosa Plata, academic expert on media and regulation and author of the book “Days of Radio.”

Online 

Online outlets were selected based on ComScore (Q1,Q2,Q3,Q4), which measures the unique visitors of websites. Social networks, online stores and advertisement websites were excluded, as they are not relevant when it comes to the editorial content and ownership.

9. Why Mexico?

In the World Press Freedom Index published in 2017 by Reporters without Borders, Mexico is ranked 147th out of 180 countries. In the same year 12 journalists were killed. These levels of violence can be compared with Syria or Afghanistan, countries in a situation of war.   

In most of the cases, the murdered journalists were working on topics related to security, corruption or were investigating politicians, which is why it is believed that public officials or members of the organized crime could have been the perpetrators. 

With the MOM project we wanted to give different approach to the phenomenon of violence against journalists, so we’ve looked into economic and social factors that might contribute to the dismal working conditions of journalists in Mexico, one of the most lethal countries in the world for this occupation.

Lastly, a strong local partner organization such as Cencos 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 Mexico?

No. 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 was implemented in Colombia, Cambodia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Peru, the Philippines, Mongolia, Ghana, Serbia, Brazil, Morocco, Albania. In addition to Mexico, this year, MOM will investigate media markets in, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Lebanon, Tanzania and Egypt. 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?

The database:

·      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 the National Center of Social Communication (Cencos)

14. Are there similar projects?

The Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) at the European University Institute (EUI) conducts the “Media Pluralism Monitor” (MPM). The EU-funded MPM identifies threats to such pluralism based on a broader set of indicators, covering legal, economic and socio-cultural considerations, taking media ownership concentration only as one of six dimensions. It assesses risks for media pluralism in the EU Member States. 

Media Pedia is an ownership database developed by investigative journalists in Macedonia that served as inspiration for the Media Ownership Monitor.

  • CENCOS
  • Reporters without borders
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  • Project by
    CENCOS
  •  
    Reporters without borders
  • Funded by
    BMZ