According to Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, India has slid to 161st place out of 180 nations rated in terms of press freedom. This is a further decline from its 150th position in 2022. In terms of press freedom, India today trails Pakistan (150) and Afghanistan (152). Bangladesh (163), Turkey (165), Saudi Arabia (170), and Iran (177) are all rated lower than India. China and North Korea are ranked 179 and 180, respectively. The study was made public on May 3, which also happens to be World Press Freedom Day.
The rating of India is based on its performance in five basic categories: political backdrop, legal framework, sociocultural setting, economic context, and journalist safety. India ranked lowest in the area of journalist safety (172) and highest in the category of social indicators (143). One of the major issues raised by the study is the concentration of ownership.
The plethora of media channels masks tendencies towards consolidation of ownership, with just a handful of huge national media organizations. The emphasis on local language publications is considerably more pronounced at the regional level. This concentration of ownership in print media may also be seen in the television industry, with major television networks.
“…the multiplicity of media channels masks tendencies towards ownership consolidation, with just a few major large media corporations at the national level, including The Hindu Group, HT Media Ltd, Times Group, and Network18. Four daily newspapers account for three-quarters of the circulation in Hindi, the country’s primary language. The concentration is much more pronounced at the regional level for local language journals such as Kolkata’s Bengali-language Anandabazar Patrika, Mumbai’s Marathi-language Lokmat, and Malayala Manorama, which is distributed throughout southern India. The dominance of ownership in the print media can also be seen in the television industry, with major television networks like NDTV.” According to the article, all news radio stations are held by the state-controlled All India Radio (AIR) network.