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 Cambodia, RSF worked with the Cambodian Center for Independant Media (CCIM).The project is funded by the Federal German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).

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. 

• 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 regulation does MOM suggest?

MOM doesn’t make normative statements – it doesn’t 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.

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, political representatives and research institutes. We used mainly data made available by

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:

  • Mr. Pisey Pech, Transparency International

  • Sek Barisoth, American University Phnom Penh

  • BBC Media Action

  • Mr. Chay Sophal, UNESCO/ CCJ

  • Ministry of Information

  • Mr. Sok Som Oeun, Legal Advisor

  • Kim Ley, Social Development

All sources are thoroughly documented and archived. Information is available on request at CCIM.

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 on media with the highest reach, measured by audience share. Basis for selection was the Media consumption survey conducted by the Cambodia Media Research for Development between January & March 2015 and available upon request to CMRD. At most 10 media outlets per media type (TV, radio, print, Online) were selected.
  • The news worthy 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.
  • New players are included in the media landscape. They are not included in the findings due to their recent presence on the media market and the lack of relevant data:

> PNN TV station launched in July 2015 and owned by CPP Senator and business tycoon Ly Yong Phat

> The Khmer Times launched in May 2013 (weekly). It became a daily newspaper in 2015 and is owned by Malaysian businessman T. Mohan.

7. How are the media outlets selected?

TV

The TV stations were selected according to their audience reach nationwide.

RADIO

  • Due to the high fragmentation of the radio market, radio stations were selected according to the radio listenership of 6 different provinces. According to CMRD, the audience of the top 10 radios represent 85% of the total audience at the national level. Radio station relays or radio stations belonging to the same owner are compiled into one radio station for the purposes of data analysis.

  • Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) radio programs were excluded since they are not Cambodian radio stations but owned by Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and work with the US Congress’ approval. VOA and RFA supply news and social radio programming to 9 local stations for free or by buying airtime. Their historical partners in Cambodia are WMC and Beehive (Sombok Khmom) radio. Looking at the audience share, VOA and RFA offer two of the most popular programs for the Cambodian radio landscape: on average, 21.1% of Cambodian adults listen daily to RFA programs, 10.1% to VOA programs.

PRINT

Print media outlets were selected according to:

  • their audience reach nationwide.

  • their frequency of publication. The media outlets selected must be updated at least once a week with current content.

ONLINE

Websites were selected according to:

  • their ranking on the Alexa.com online traffic ranking system

  • the relevance to the content regarding news/ opinion. As such, social networks, online stores and advertisement websites were excluded.

  • The number of daily visitors is based on the MYIP.MS online database giving access to 9,000,000,000,000+ IPv4/IPv6 addresses and 377,000,000+ websites’ information worldwide.

     

    Sources:

CMRD (2015). Media consumption Survey (Jan-March 2015) [available upon request at CMRD]

8. Why Cambodia?

Cambodia is ranked #128 out in 180 countries in the 2015 according the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporter without Borders. With a score of 40.99, Cambodia faces significant problems related to of press freedom. This indicates a problematic relation to media pluralism, media independence and transparency and thus highlights Cambodia as a country being worth looking in depth into the risk of media ownership concentration.

On the other hand, unlike in other surrounding countries, civil society organizations such as the local partner Cambodian Center of Independent Media (CCIM) can operate relatively freely, which allowed a pilot implementation.

9. Does the MOM only exist for Cambodia?

MOM was developed as a generic methodology which 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.

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.

  • Contradictory data: Official reports seemed to be hardly updated. Market share data published by the media outlets themselves seemed exaggerated (supposedly as an incentive for advertising sector).

  • Spare media data: Media data is fragmented with no standard data set available. Audience shares, especially for the radio and the online sector, do not exist for Cambodia. Media outlets seem to not understand the value of market data, the need to purchase data and how to benefit from it. MOM worked with proxies based on available data.

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;

    is a point of reference for consulting competition authorities or governmental bodies when establishing suitable regulatory measures to safeguard media pluralism.

12. What happens next?

The database is a snapshot of the current situation, contextualized by historical facts. It will be updated regularly by CCIM.

13. 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.

ORGANIZATION

DESCRIPTION

Acess Info 

A Spanish NGO that works in the field of media ownership transparency in several European countries.

 

Article 19

An NGO which works in the field of press freedom. It implements media concentration projects.

 

Deutsche Welle

The Media Freedom Navigator of Deutsche Welle provides an overview of different media freedom indices.

 

European Audiovisual Observatory

A database of television and audiovisual services in Europe.

 

European Journalism Center

The Website provides a summary and analysis of the state of the media in Europe and neighbouring countries.

 

European University Institute in Florence

The Media Pluralism Monitor assesses risks for media pluralism in the EU Member States.

 

IFEX

The network provides information of the state of the media in many countries.

IREX

The Media Sustainability Index (MSI) provides analyses of the conditions for independent media in 80 countries.

 

Media Pedia

A project that is monitoring the media ownership in Macedonia.

 

mediaUk

The Website provides information about media ownership in Great Britain.

 

Pew Research Center

The organisation publishes an interactive database about media in the United States.

 

SEENPM

Monitors media ownership and the impact on media pluralism in southeastern Europe and EU member states.

 

The Columbia Institute for Tele-Information at Columbia Business School

A research that works with authors from 30 countries in the world about media concentration using a common methodology.

 

The Institute for Media and Communication Policy

A database of international corporations of the world´s biggest media.

 

UNESCO

Media Development Indicators - A framework for assessing media development.