This year Lok Sabha elections will take place in the country and with the type of media coverage we get to see nowadays, quality of journalism is in doubts with increasing influence and control of political parties both national and regional on media. As per analysis by media watchdogs, it has been noticed that a larger segment of press is now being controlled or owned by political parties or by people who have political affiliation.
Political Influence on Media
Recent article in Business Standard states that as much as a third of all media channels in the country are in possession of political parties or their affiliates. These politicians use the new channel as a medium to spread their influence during the elections. It seems as if owing a channel is now becoming a necessity for politicians in the country. Apart from media channels, political parties are taking ownership in print media as well.
This type of political inclination in media is more prominent in Southern states in the country such as Tamil Nadu. In the state, many parties have launched channels such as Sun TV and Kalaignar TV, to be used as vehicle to influence viewpoint people have about any particular political party. These channels give positive coverage for their parties and abstain from covering issues, which may highlight the party in a negative way. As for example, at the time of elections in 2009, the channels such as Sun TV tried to shield the party they were affiliated to from criticism during the incidence of atrocities in Sri Lanka against Tamils living there.
Influence on Cable Distribution
Similar to the news channels, political parties also control cable distributors with almost sixty percent of the distribution companies owned by some politician. These cable distributors tend to stop telecast of new channels, which they find politically unsuitable. As for example, during the problem of 2009 mentioned above, Sun TV stopped coverage of this event while Makkal TV continued the coverage since the channel was owned by opposite party. However, the major cable distributor in the state, Sumangali Cable Vision blocked Makkal TV during that time due to political pressure. This situation is not confined to Tamil Nadu only, but in most of South India and in Northern states such as Punjab.