The Folly of Convention

Peter Kelly, Convergence/Divergence (2007),

TRAI recently issued a consultation paper on Media Ownership where it was concerned with the increase in cross-ownership and reduction in media plurality. After some research I came across several FCC commissioned studies which concluded that there was a lack of evidence to link the two. The studies cannot be underestimated since they serve as one of the few sources of empirical data on the liberalization of cross holding regulations within media markets. In my reply to the TRAI I make the reasonable request of commissioning such a study to avoid the folly of convention. I note in my comments that,

“To summarize these findings the premise of media plurality through restriction of cross ownership fails to have a definite link. There are important differences between the media market and structure in the United States and India. Hence my suggestion would be to commission a study on the lines of the FCC to test whether the hypothesis holds true in the Indian market before proceeding to regulate it.”

Conventional wisdom is often built on assumptions which under examination are found false. This is particularly true in fields of law and policy. Here often, social interest is linked to inexorable means. This is the folly of convention, this is the error of presupposing that cross-holdings in media stifle plurality of opinion. For a full copy of my reply to the issues raised in the consultation paper click here.


Picture Courtesy : Peter Kelly, Convergence/Divergence (2007),

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