Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is MOM?
The “Media Ownership Monitor” (MOM) has been developed as a mapping tool in order to create a publicly available, continuously updated database that lists owners of all relevant mass media outlets (press, radio, television sectors and online media).
MOM aims to shed light on the risks to media pluralism caused by media ownership concentration for more information: Methodology. In order to grasp the national characteristics and detect risk-enhancing or risk-reducing factors for media concentration, MOM also qualitatively assesses the market conditions and legal environment.
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 Brazil, RSF worked with Intervozes – Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social.
3. 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.
4. What kind of concentration control does MOM suggest?
MOM doesn’t make normative statements – it doesn’t suggest how to regulate media ownership. Which form of media concentration regulation 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.
5. 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 (no one answered), political representatives and research institutes. All sources are thoroughly documented and archived in the Library. Further information is available on request at Intervozes.
In order to obtain ownership information, first the tax ID number for each media outlet was retrieved from the online database of Receita Federal. The tax ID then allowed request information on ownership as well as on broadcasting licenses at both the Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações – responsible for national broadcasting and telecommunications policies – and the Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações (Anatel). Both bodies referred to publicly accessible online databases: Sistema de Acompanhamento de Controle Societário (SIACCO) to get information on broadcasting licenses; and Sistema Integrado de Gestão e Controle do Espectro (MOSAICO) with ownership information. In October 2017, the SIACCO database was sent upon request by Anatel to Intervozes, which facilitated the analysis. The tax ID also allowed to research ownership information for press and online outlets at the Junta.
Some corporate details on shareholders, owners etc. were available online. For companies based in São Paulo, information is available online for free at the official registry for companies. For companies outside São Paulo, fees between 30 BRL (Paraná) and 196 BRL (Rio de Janeiro) per company profile were paid.
Audience data for the TV and radio market based on a thorough evaluation and triangulation of Kantar Ibope Media 2016 Workstation; Mídia Dados Brasil 2017, IPSOS Connect 2016; the Prestige Index (IPM) published by Meio & Mensagem and from Brazilian Search of Media 2016. Institute Verifying of Communication (IVC) kindly provided extensive data on the print market. Online media were selected based on ComScore (2016 database), Alexa/Amazon (July 2017) and the Monitor of the Political Debate in the Digital Environment.
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.
6. 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. Audience data for the TV and radio market based on a thorough evaluation and triangulation of Kantar Ibope Media 2016 Workstation, Mídia Dados Brasil 2017, IPSOS Connect 2016 and the Prestige Index (IPM) published by Meio & Mensagem and from Brazilian Search of Media 2016. Institute Verifying of Communication (IVC) kindly provided extensive data on the print market. Online media were selected based on ComScore (2016 database), Alexa/Amazon (July 2017) and the Monitor of the Political Debate in the Digital Environment.
- 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 50 communication outlets per media type (TV, radio, print, online). Shedding light on these most relevant media outlets already allows revealing tendencies in media concentration. (read more - “How are media outlets selected?”).
7. How are the media outlets selected?
Media outlets are selected based on audience share – as reaching out to a big audience leaves a media outlet and thus its owner with a potentially high influence on public opinion. The audience analysis and thus the media selection was based on several sources: Kantar Ibope Media 2016 Workstation (audience shares); Mídia Dados Brasil 2017; IPSOS Connect 2016; the Prestige Index (IPM) published by Meio & Mensagem and from Brazilian Search of Media 2016 (consumption habits). Institute Verifying of Communication (IVC) kindly provided extensive data on the print market.
Kantar Ibope Media workstation 2016, published by Meio & Mensagem, had identified the main national TV outlets in Brasil: Globo, SBT, Record, RedeTV, RecordNews and Rede Pública de Televisão (RPTV). Starting from there, in order to select ten main vehicles of free television, we cross headed audience data with data on media consumption habits (daily use), published by IPSOS Connect 2016. In addition to Globo, SBT, Record, RedeTV and RPTV, with the same highlight, and RecordNews, with less relevance, appear Rede Vida, Canção Nova and Gospel. Two pay TV news vehicles with importance in scheduling news in Brazil were included based on IPSOS Connect and Brazilian Search for Media 2016 data (GloboNews & BandNews). Also according to the Prestige Index (IPM) published by Meio & Mensagem, GloboNews and BandNews appear among the most prestigious meaning associated by positive attributes. IPM also ranked Globo, Record, SBT, Band, RecordNews and RedeTV ! high and thus confirmed their selection. The network Gospel – ranking amongst the ten biggest – to explain and highlight the role of the church in media ownership.
Public data on the radio market is either unavailable, expensive or its credibility contested. In addition, local and regional networks might not be leading in audience shares but still have a considerable influence on a local or regional level. In general, radio consumption habits radio vary widely among the regions. Based on ANATEL data (Spectrum-E: Channels, 2017) on the size of the radio networks, complemented by information of affiliation obtained in the sites of the main networks, twelve major radio networks were identified. Antena 1 was excluded due to his sole music program. The Prestige Index proved the prominence of those national networks: CBN, Gaúcha, BandNews, Jovem Pan and Bandeirantes among the ten most prestigious, and Globo, Mix, Antena 1 and Transamérica among the 20 most cited.
Religious networks were included as they are of great significance and relevance to a significant portion of Brazilian society: Aleluia (linked to the church Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus), Novo Tempo (Seventh-day Adventist Church) and Rede Católica de Rádio (Roman Catholic Church).
Selecting print outlets was challenging as it required evaluating their territorial scale vs. their opinion-shaping potential nationally while not leaving out regional particularities. In order to do those characteristics justice, a bigger number of print outlets were included, based on 2016 IVC data. The IVC presents the circulation of all newspapers printed daily and weekly and printed weekly magazines, biweekly and monthly, both for those sold in paper format and in digital format (numbers were added up).
For the elaboration of the Top 12, we considered a) those national newspapers that got their news reproduced or cited by outlets from other states as authorized source, and b) their importance in the dissemination of political issues, shown by their position in the Monitor of the Political Debate in the Digital Environment. (O Globo, Folha de S. Paulo, O Estado de S. Paulo and Valor Econômico).
Secondly, supra-state and multi-territorial newspapers with great circulation and national content were included (Zero Hour, o Correio do Povo and the Estado de Minas). Finally, state newspapers with national content and with great circulation or great dominion of the market of a determined region were selected (O Tempo, of Belo Horizonte, O Daqui - 44.19% of the Midwest market; The Correio da Bahia and Jornal do Commercio - together hold 27% of the Northeast market; And Diário do Pará - 33.86% of the North region's market). Some popular newspapers were excluded such as Super News (Belo Horizonte), Extra (Rio de Janeiro) and Diário Gaúcho (Porto Alegre) – as they focus on local/regional news.
Three weekly general affairs magazines (Veja, Época and Carta Capital) were included. Isto É, which does not appear in the IVC listing in 2016 and 2017 due to problems between publisher Três and the institute. However, its importance can be measured by other means. In the IVC data of 2014, published by ANER (2015), Isto É appears in 5th place in the ranking, behind Veja, Cláudia, Época and Superinteressante. Also, at the Monitor of the Political Debate in the Digital Media, it appears as the 27th more shared outlet, ahead of Carta Capital and Zero Hora.
Online media were selected based on ComScore (2016 database), Alexa/Amazon (July 2017) and the Monitor of the Political Debate in the Digital Environment. Websites that appear in the rankings of the three data sources or even portals that appear prominently in at least two of the data sources, limited to only news websites, were included. The result was a ranking of 15 sites according to Alexa. The top 10 sites are included in the MOM online database, the remaining appear in the analytical part.
8. Why Brazil?
Brazil is 103 (out of 180 countries) in the 2017 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. Brazil is a country known for the power of large communication groups. There have been studies on the subject in the past, such as Projeto Donos da Mídia (Media's Owners), but in this new context of media convergence and changes in the sector, a new picture becomes more than necessary. Especially because of the political role assmed by these groups. In this sense, the application of the MOM project in Brasil comes at a good time. It fulfills the objective of making media's ownership by applying an internationally consolidated methodology and by a reference entity such as RSF.
Lastly, a strong local partner organization such as Intervozes is one of RSF’s most relevant selection criteria as it presents the basis for a successful implementation and sustainability.
9. Does MOM only exist for Brazil?
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 Cambodia & Colombia (2015), Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Peru & Mongolia (2016), Serbia, Pakistan, Morocco, Ghana (2017). All country projects can be found on the global website.
10. What are the limitations of the study?
- No economic data: Market concentration based on market share could not be calculated since complete and credible numbers were not available publicly. Some print outlets shared them on request, which is indicated in their Media outlet profile.
- Official audience measurement data is not publicly available: it is being sold by research companies.
- Although data on corporate ownership are available at official registries, accessing them can be costly and inconvenient.
11. Who do we target?
The data base
- allows each citizen to get informed on the media system in general;
- creates a fact base for civil society’s advocacy efforts to further promote public consciousness on media ownership and concentration;
Although data for corporate ownership are available at the Registrar General, accessing them can be costly and inconvenient.
12. What happens next?
The database is a snapshot of the current situation in Brazil, contextualized by historical facts. It will be updated regularly by Intervozes. Following implementation in other countries, an international classification of media ownership concentration will be established, similar to the Press Freedom rating of Reporters Without Borders.
13. 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.
14. Who finances MOM?
The project is funded by the Federal German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).